John Gardner Books

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 John Gardner's Bond Series

# Read Title Published
1 License Renewed 1981
2 For Special Services 1982
3 Icebreaker 1983
4 Role of Honor 1984
5 Nobody Lives Forever 1986
6 No Deals, Mr. Bond 1987
7 Scorpius 1988
8 Licence to Kill 1989
9 Win, Lose or Die 1989
10 Brokenclaw 1990
11 The Man from Barbarossa 1991
12 Death Is Forever 1992
13 Never Send Flowers 1993
14 SeaFire 1994
15 GoldenEye 1995
16 Cold Fall 1996

Order of Derek Torry Series

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

Order of Suzie Mountford Series

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

Order of Boysie Oakes Series

# Read Title Published
1 The Liquidator 1964
2 Understrike 1965
3 Amber Nine 1966
4 Madrigal 1967
5 Hideaway (Short Story) 1968
6 Founder Member 1969
7 Traitor's Exit 1970
8 The Airline Pirates 1973
9 The Assassination File 1974
10 A Killer for a Song 2015

Order of Secret Families Trilogy Series

# Read Title Published
1 The Secret Generations 1985
2 The Secret Houses 1987
3 The Secret Families 1989

Order of Herbie Kruger Series

# Read Title Published
1 The Nostradamus Traitor 1979
2 The Garden of Weapons 1984
3 The Quiet Dogs 1988
4 Maestro 1993
5 Confessor 1995

Order of Professor Moriarty Series

# Read Title Published
1 The Return of Moriarty 1974
2 The Revenge of Moriarty 1975
3 Moriarty 2008

Order of John Gardner Standalone Novels

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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.