Friday, November 27, 2015

Get Carter - The Novel!

Get Carter (originally titled Jack's Return Home ) was written by Ted Lewis in 1969. It was made into a movie and released only a few years later. As a consequence Lewis wrote two more novels about his protagonist Jack Carter. I've not read those, but  I have just read the first one and it lives up to its reputation as a powerhouse tougher-than-nails crime drama.

The plot is fairly simple. Jack Carter hears his brother Frank has died as a result of drunken driving but, despite their estrangement, Jack knows that's not the way his buttoned-up brother operated. He knows he was murdered and returns home to his home in northern England despite his London bosses desire he not do so. It seems no one wants him to investigate, but he does anyway and its a brutal and tempestuous weekend which results in quite a bit of lethal mayhem all about.

The movie with Michael Caine is rough and unblinking, but if anything the novel is even more so. Though that said, the picture we get of Jack Carter is a more complete one since the story is told from his point of view. We learn a great deal more about his relationship with is brother, how close they were and how different they had been. In the movie you have to just assume those things, trust in Carter's pronouncements that he knew his brother, but in the novel you see the memories which justify his conviction that the mystery is far from solved.

There is quite a bit different narratively, especially in the denoument of the story, so reading the novel is satisfying in the way it recreates the movie adaptation's vivid impressions and also distinctive enough to offer up real surprises.

It's worth your time. 

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