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Get Carter by Ted Lewis

Get Carter (edition 2000)

by Ted Lewis

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1578119,472 (3.82)5
"Famously adapted into the iconic film starring Michael Caine, Get Carter--originally published as Jack's Return Home--ranks among the most canonical of crime novels. With a special Foreword by Mike Hodges, director of Get Carter. It's a rainy night in the mill town of Scunthorpe when a London fixer named Jack Carter steps off a northbound train. He's left the neon lights and mod lifestyle of Soho behind to come north to his hometown for a funeral--his brother Frank's. Frank was very drunk when he drove his car off a cliff and that doesn't sit well with Jack. Mild-mannered Frank never touched the stuff. Jack and Frank didn't exactly like one another. They hadn't spoken in years and Jack is far from the sentimental type. So it takes more than a few people by surprise when Jack starts plying his trade in order to get to the bottom of his brother's death. Then again, Frank's last name was Carter, and that's Jack's name too. Sometimes that's enough. Set in the late 1960s amidst the smokestacks and hardcases of the industrial north of England, Get Carter redefined British crime fiction and cinema alike. Along with the other two novels in the Jack Carter Trilogy, it is one of the most important crime novels of all time"--… (more)
Title:Get Carter
Authors:Ted Lewis
Info:Allison & Busby (2000), Paperback, 224 pages
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Get Carter by Ted Lewis



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Highly influential British noir, and source for the brilliant (apparently) movie with Michael Caine that I've yet to see, Get Carter draws you into its tale of revenge and never lets go. Jack Carter is determined to find out who killed his brother, who died in a car crash with an unbelievable alcohol level. It doesn't matter that Jack and his brother Frank didn't get along, for which Frank apparently had ample reason as the story makes clear. Jack lives by a code and tracking down his brother's killers and the circumstances of how it happened is part of that code. Along the way, we are interested to a very interesting set of gangsters, innocent bystanders (not that their innocence counts for much), and a few hangers-on who are in way over their heads. The story moves from one memorable scene to the next. The book has pretty much everything--violence, pornography, sex, you name it. It's a great read. So great in fact that the author was compelled to write to prequels. Why not sequels? Well, this book is definitely about burning bridges; let's just put it that way.

So far as the writing goes, it's very good. But Lewis is not a stylist on the order of Raymond Chandler. The writing's impact comes through the clear portrayal of a very brutal bunch of folks. Jack Carter doesn't come across as a hero to any extent--he's an intelligent thug, willing do do whatever it takes to get to what he wants--his disregard for the other characters' welfare is almost complete. And he doesn't care who he slaps around--male or female. I'll be interested to see how Michael Caine managed to play him. ( )
  datrappert | Apr 18, 2016 |
This is considered to be an iconic or canonical crime novel. In it we follow Jack Carter, who has returned to his northern English home town for his brother Frank's funeral and to find out how Frank could have died the way he did. A teetotalling careful driver like Frank does not down an entire bottle of whisky and then drive off the road into a gully. But Jack has to be careful, because there are interests in town that may be on his trail for raising these sorts of questions in the first place.

While the story itself certainly kept me reading (and I thought it ended on an interesting note), I did feel mildly sick by the end of it. Women do not fare well in Jack Carter's world, being routinely slapped around by friends and foes alike and exhibiting (sometimes highly) sexualized behaviour, which sometimes but not always keeps the men in their lives off their case. The violence feels bone-crunchingly realistic, and it's difficult to know whose side you should be on depending on who's committing the violence. Jack Carter as a narrator naturally demands a fair bit of readerly sympathy, especially when he comes up with deft turns of phrase (e.g. describing a thin-but-paunchy man as having a barrage balloon for a gut), but at the same time he commits acts that are hard to come to terms with.

The rating I've given is intended to reflect that I recognize the book's status in the pantheon of crime fiction but would not care to spend any more time with Carter, despite there being two more books in the trilogy that bears his name. I've also decided I probably don't need to see the movie. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Feb 20, 2016 |
Just finished this re-issue yesterday and I have to say I was impressed. If you like your protagonists tough and pretty ruthless, then Jack Carter is your man. My advice: Read Get Carter sooner than later.

This book gets a well-deserved ( )
  bookstothesky | Sep 19, 2014 |
From BBC Radio 4:
Gangland enforcer Jack Carter returns to his hometown of Scunthorpe to investigate the suspicious death of his brother. Nick Perry's dramatisation of Ted Lewis's crime classic.
( )
  Lnatal | Mar 31, 2013 |
From BBC Radio 4:
Gangland enforcer Jack Carter returns to his hometown of Scunthorpe to investigate the suspicious death of his brother. Nick Perry's dramatisation of Ted Lewis's crime classic.
( )
  Lnatal | Mar 31, 2013 |
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Original title is 'Jack's Return Home' republished as 'Get Carter' after 1992 film with that name was released.
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