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Wednesday, 26 August 2015

A twist, grue, scend, and cleft of books

Way back in the 1960s and 1970s, one of the popular thriller writers who rubbed shoulders with the likes of Desmond Bagley was Geoffrey Jenkins, both with eye-catching covers from Fontana paperbacks. Jenkins was South African, and originally a journalist and newspaper editor. When 17 he wrote and had published A Century of History, which received a special eulogy from General Jan Smuts. He went on to work in London’s Fleet Street and was a war correspondent in WWII.

Interestingly, while working for the Sunday Times, he became friends with author Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond. Fleming later praised Jenkins’ debut novel, A Twist of Sand as ‘a literate, imaginative first novel in the tradition of high and original adventure’. Jenkins could be relied on to deliver an exciting action-filled adventure yarn.

After the war Jenkins settled in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), where he married.

His first novel, A Twist of Sand (1959), was subsequently translated into almost two dozen languages and became a movie in 1968 starring Richard Johnson and Honor Blackman. He kept his day job until he had published his third novel.
After Ian Fleming’s death (1964), Glidrose Productions commissioned Jenkins to write a James Bond novel in 1966. Jenkins finished the manuscript for Glidrose entitled Per Fine Ounce, but it was rejected. The full novel is believed lost, though a few pages have survived. Two pages have been released to the public and were exclusively published by the James Bond website The first post-Fleming Bond book was Colonel Sun by Robert Markham [Kingsley Amis] (1968).

Jenkins had a penchant for using unusual titles for some of his novels.
  • A Twist of Sand (1959)
  • The Watering-Place of Good Peace (1960; revised 1974)
  • A Grue of Ice (1962) published in the U.S. as The Disappearing Island
  • The River of Diamonds (1964)
  • Hunter-Killer (1966)
  • Scend of the Sea (1971) published in the U.S. as The Hollow Sea
  • A Cleft of Stars (1973)
  • A Bridge of Magpies (1974)
  • South Trap (1979) published in paperback as Southtrap
  • A Ravel of Waters (1981)
  • The Unripe Gold (1983)
  • Fireprint (1984)
  • In Harm's Way (1986)
  • Hold Down a Shadow (1989)
  • A Hive of Dead Men (1991)
  • A Daystar of Fear (1993)
Geoffrey Jenkins died in 2001, aged 81.

Note: If you want a Wikipedia link to all things ‘James Bond’, go here.


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