Ted Lewis wrote nine novels, two of them autobiographical (All the Day Long and All the Night Through and The Rabbit) and seven of them in criminal noir style (Jack’s Return Home, Plender, Billy Rags, Jack Carter’s Law. Boldt, Jack Carter and the Mafia Pigeon and GBH). Originally published by Michael Joseph, some were reprinted by Allison and Butler and translated into other languages outside UK. Currently, Soho Books in USA has republished all Ted Lewis’ novels either in hard copy or ebooks.
This is probably the first Noir novel, uniquely set in Hull, a standard for modern Hull Noir writers. Two boys, Brian Plender and Peter Knott attend Barton upon Humber Grammar School (where Lewis also went to school) at which Knott, born with a silver spoon in his mouth, humiliates Plender. In adulthood, Knott becomes a successful but exploiting photographer and Plender a blackmailing private eye. A story of death, fear and revenge inspiring the French film, Le Serpent , (now as a DVD with English sub titles).
Billy Rags (1973)
This novel was I inspired by the escapee of criminal, now journalist, John McVicar,In the novel, Billy Cracken, who is said to be based on one of Ted’s a Barton drinking pals, gives an intimate description of life inside and outside prison with its adventures, drama of his escape and fugitive status.
Jack Carter’s Law (1974)
This is novel is a prequel to the successful, Get Carter, now set in London showing Jack Carter’s life as enforcer for the Fletcher Brothers and he developing contempt for them. A race against time to eliminate potential ‘grass’, crooked Jimmy Swann, provides a pacey story full of murder and mayhem.
The Rabbit (1975)
Victor Graves is Lewis’s alter ego and first featured in All the Way Home and All the Night Through. Lewis gives a compelling and vibrant account of his young life in Barton. Just as Lewis did, art student Victor, has a holiday job at his father’s quarry where he is bullied by tough sardonic Teddy Boy quarry worker, Clacker. Victor tries to hold his own through a young life of drinking, cinema and chasing the girls.
This novel is Uniquely set in America, possibly inspired by his literary agent, Toby Eady, went to live there in 1973. Boldt is a streetwise detective set the task of preventing the assassination of his politician brother. A story of police corruption and how to ride it. Boldt tries to be one step ahead of the game using cunning and his dodgy associates.
Jack Carter and the Mafia Pigeon (1977)
Again, a prequel to Get Carter. Jack is deceived into travel to the Fletchers’ villa in Spain on pretext of needing a holiday. The hidden agenda is to guard an ex Mafia informant (the ‘stool pigeon’) who is given sanctuary there by Jack’s gangster bosses. Audrey Fletcher, Carter’s mistress, also appears as more mysteries unfold with danger coming from all directions.
This is Lewis’s last novel. Set in Mablethorpe with flashbacks to ‘The Smoke’ (London) , George Fowler, head of a criminal syndicate, is lying low, trying to puzzle out forces undermining his criminal empire. In a paranoid attempt at self-preservation, Fowler is sometimes accompanied by a beautiful mystery girl with whom we are taken on a violent journey to its inevitable conclusion.