John Gardner Books

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John Gardner was an American writer, literary critic, essayist and a university professor. His prolific writings include the 1971 novel Grendel which narrates the Beowulf myth from the monster point of view. He was born and raised in New York to a dairy farmer and a lay preacher father. His mother was an English teacher at a local school. Gardener parents were fond of Shakespeare and mostly recited Shakespeare literature together. As a child, the author attended public schools and most times worked at his father farm where his younger brother was accidentally killed y a cult packer which Gardener was driving. He carried the blame for his brother’s death which resulted in him experiencing flashbacks, nightmares his entire life. This incident formed a foundation of Gardner’s criticism and fiction.

Order of Boysie Oakes Series

# Read Title Published Details
1 The Liquidator 1964 Description / Buy
2 Understrike 1965 Description / Buy
3 Amber Nine 1966 Description / Buy
4 Madrigal 1967 Description / Buy
5 Hideaway (Short Story) 1968 Description / Buy
6 Founder Member 1969 Description / Buy
7 Traitor's Exit 1970 Description / Buy
8 The Airline Pirates 1973 Description / Buy
9 Air Apparent 1973 Description / Buy
10 The Assassination File 1974 Description / Buy
11 A Killer for a Song 1975 Description / Buy

Order of Derek Torry Series

# Read Title Published Details
1 A Complete State of Death 1970 Description / Buy
2 The Corner Men 1976 Description / Buy

Order of Detective Sergeant Suzie Mountford Series

# Read Title Published Details
1 Bottled Spider 2002 Description / Buy
2 Streets of Town 2003 Description / Buy
3 Angels Dining at the Ritz 2004 Description / Buy
4 Troubled Midnight 2005 Description / Buy
5 No Human Enemy 2007 Description / Buy

Order of Herbie Kruger Series

# Read Title Published Details
1 The Nostradamus Traitor 1979 Description / Buy
2 The Garden of Weapons 1981 Description / Buy
3 The Quiet Dogs 1988 Description / Buy
4 Maestro 1993 Description / Buy
5 Confessor 1995 Description / Buy

Order of Professor Moriarty Series

# Read Title Published Details
1 The Return of Moriarty 1974 Description / Buy
2 The Revenge of Moriarty 1975 Description / Buy
3 Moriarty 2008 Description / Buy

Order of Railton Family Series

# Read Title Published Details
1 The Secret Generations 1985 Description / Buy
2 The Secret Houses 1987 Description / Buy
3 The Secret Families 1989 Description / Buy

Order of James Bond Series

# Read Title Published Details
1 Colonel Sun ( By: Kingsley Amis) 1968 Description / Buy
2 The Authorized Biography of 007 ( By: John George Pearson) 1973 Description / Buy
3 License Renewed 1981 Description / Buy
4 For Special Services 1982 Description / Buy
5 Icebreaker 1983 Description / Buy
6 Role of Honor 1984 Description / Buy
7 Nobody Lives Forever 1986 Description / Buy
8 No Deals, Mr. Bond 1987 Description / Buy
9 Scorpius 1988 Description / Buy
10 Licence to Kill 1989 Description / Buy
11 Win, Lose or Die 1989 Description / Buy
12 Brokenclaw 1990 Description / Buy
13 The Man from Barbarossa 1991 Description / Buy
14 Death Is Forever 1992 Description / Buy
15 Never Send Flowers 1993 Description / Buy
16 SeaFire 1994 Description / Buy
17 GoldenEye 1995 Description / Buy
18 Cold Fall 1996 Description / Buy
19 Zero Minus Ten ( By: Raymond Benson) 1997 Description / Buy
20 Tomorrow Never Dies ( By: Raymond Benson) 1997 Description / Buy
21 The Facts of Death ( By: Raymond Benson) 1998 Description / Buy
22 The World is Not Enough ( By: Raymond Benson) 1999 Description / Buy
23 High Time to Kill ( By: Raymond Benson) 1999 Description / Buy
24 Doubleshot ( By: Raymond Benson) 2000 Description / Buy
25 Never Dream of Dying ( By: Raymond Benson) 2001 Description / Buy
26 The Man With the Red Tattoo ( By: Raymond Benson) 2002 Description / Buy
27 Die Another Day ( By: Raymond Benson) 2002 Description / Buy
28 Devil May Care ( By: Sebastian Faulks) 2008 Description / Buy
29 Carte Blanche ( By: Jeffery Deaver) 2011 Description / Buy
30 Solo ( By: William Boyd) 2013 Description / Buy
31 Trigger Mortis ( By: Anthony Horowitz) 2015 Description / Buy
32 Forever and a Day ( By: Anthony Horowitz) 2018 Description / Buy
33 With a Mind to Kill ( By: Anthony Horowitz) 2022 Description / Buy

Order of John Gardner Standalone Novels

# Read Title Published Details
1 Grendel 1971 Description / Buy
2 The Censor 1972 Description / Buy
3 Every Night's a Bullfight 1973 Description / Buy
4 The Director 1973 Description / Buy
5 To Run a Little Faster 1976 Description / Buy
6 The Werewolf Trace 1977 Description / Buy
7 The Dancing Dodo 1979 Description / Buy
8 Golgotha 1980 Description / Buy
9 The Last Trump 1980 Description / Buy
10 Blood of the Fathers 1992 Description / Buy
11 Day of Absolution 2001 Description / Buy

Order of John Gardner Non-Fiction Books

# Read Title Published Details
1 On Becoming a Novelist 1983 Description / Buy
2 On Writers and Writing 1994 Description / Buy

John Gardner Anthologies

# Read Title Published Details
1 The Best American Short Stories 1982 1982 Description / Buy
2 The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes 1999 Description / Buy
Print: Print PDF

Gardner started his university studies at DePauw University, but he received his degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1995. He got his Ph.D. from the University of Lowa and later became a distinguished professor.

John Gardner best-known books include The Sunlight Dialogues which narrates the story of a disaffected cop who is asked to confront a madman who is fluent in classical mythology. October Light tells the story of an embittered sister and brother living and clashing with each other in Vermont. Gardner died in a motorcycle accident two miles from his home in Susquehanna County on 14th September 1982.


October Light was the winner of the 1976 National Book Critics Circle Award.


These are three best books written by John Gardner, Mickelsson’s Ghosts, Nickel Mountain and Grendel.

Mickelson’s Ghost: The last novel that John Gardner wrote before his tragic death. The book narrates the sad tale of Peter Mickelsson, a once an upcoming philosopher, now a lecturer at Binghamton University divorced and almost broke, drunk, hounded by I.R.S and probably going mad. As the book opens up, Peter is seeking refuge from the heat of his apartment that his money had forced him to take, from the 3rd floor of an old house on Binghamton West Side- the beautiful part of the town.

With that move, Peter Mickelson finds himself in a strange territory, in the midst of water diviners, occasional religious cults and rumored haunting and soon discovers that the house he is living in is said to be haunted. Peter, the proud philosopher, starts a romantic affair with a young prostitute, a former colleague from the University. He starts contemplating robbing a man his money and begins seeing the rumored ghosts. His life is crashing down, and not his philosophy can save him.

John Gardner weaves one beautiful tale of a tortured soul. The novel is beautifully written, the story is sad, suspenseful, funny and philosophical as well.

Nickel Mountain: This is a remarkable love story. At the age of 42, the obese and anxious Henry marries Callie Wells, a 17 year old girl expecting a child of another man. It is more than the age difference that defines the distance between them. However, the beauty of this book is the revelation of the bond that forms as the two incredible couple experiences courtship and marriage, the birth of a son, forgiveness, isolation, and work. The plot eventually turns out tragic, possibly due to the acts of will or accidents involving a cast of character that includes a religious hysteric, an amputee veteran, and a roving goat lady. Questions of innocence, guilt, redemption, and humility begin to arise which results in the discovery of grace by Henry Soames.

Grendel: This is the retelling of an epic poem “Beowulf” told from the Grendel point of view. The poem was written between 8th and 11th century. In this novel, the narrator, a monster has been residing in a cave with his mother. He listens to Shapers; a blind harpist narrates a beautiful tale about ancient warriors. Upon reaching adulthood, he asks the philosophical question of a dragon that has a fatalistic point of view of life. This makes Grendel confused as he has heard Shapers heroic view in his narration. The dragon rewards Grendel with a magical gift such that no weapons could penetrate his skin.

Sharper narrates the tale of the sons of Adam, Cain, and Abel. Humans are the descendants of Abel, while Grendel is the descendant of Cain and even though the look different, Grendel and the humans shared a common language, heritage and ways of thinking. Grendel always felt lonely and isolated and found life boring since he had no companions to share with. Grendel would keep an eye on the Scyldings and attacked them for 12 years, until the day when Beowulf and Geats arrive to help Scyldings bring an end to the monster.

When Does The Next John Gardner book come out?

John Gardner doesn't seem to have an upcoming book. Their newest book is The Liquidator and was released on November, 25th 2010. It is the newest book in the Boysie Oakes Series.

1 thought on “John Gardner”

  1. I give Gardner credit for his foray into the Bond series, but unfortunately his efforts fell flat. I will admit I only read the first book in the series so far, but it didn’t blow me away. I have yet to decide if I’ll continue reading the series, but perhaps I’ll take a break and venture into some of Gardner’s other books. Any suggestions as to where to being are appreciated.

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