Tuesday, July 09, 2013

The TOR Novels of Jack M. Bickham

TOR published 10 of Jack M. Bickham’s novels between 1983 and 1994; two novels were reprints in mass market and the remaining eight novels were originals published both in hardcover and mass market paperback editions.  Mr Bickham’s TOR novels represent his best work, and each, including the reprints, are superiorly crafted suspense novels worth seeking out. 

The Regensburg Legacy.  Mr Bickham’s first novel published by TOR, and it is one of the best.  It was a reprint—originally published by Doubleday in 1980—released by TOR in mass market in 1983.  TRL is a swift and entertaining suspense novel in the vein of Robert Ludlum; however it is superior to Ludlum’s work because of its plotting is tight and its prose is lean. 
Ariel.  A mass market reprint.  It was originally published by St. Martin’s Press in 1984, and the TOR reprint was released in 1985.  Ariel is the largest of the titles published by TOR.  It is a technology based tale about a commercial attempt to develop artificial intelligence.  The technology is dated, but the story is still vibrant due to Mr Bickham’s use of plotting and character motive; however, it shows its age more than any of TOR titles.

Miracleworker.  The first original Jack M. Bickham novel published by TOR.  It was released in hardcover in 1987, and mass market in 1988.  It is a sort of medical thriller, and it is heavy on suspense.      
Day Seven.  It was published by TOR as a hardcover in 1988, and mass market in 1989.  It is an exciting technology centered suspense novel.  It features a somewhat farfetched storyline—a mission to Mars is sabotaged by an assortment of bad guys—but it features Mr Bickham’s trademark sharp plotting and character motive development.  This is one of my favorite non Brad Smith novels.  Read the Gravetapping review.

Tiebreaker.  This is the first (of six) novel to feature Brad Smith.  It was published in hardcover in 1989, and mass market in 1990.  I can’t say enough about the Brad Smith novels.  Mr Bickham managed to make each of the titles a very personal affair for Smith without the melodrama, which often bogs down serial character novels. Read the Gravetapping review.   
Dropshot.  The second novel featuring Brad Smith.  It was released in hardcover in 1990, and mass market in 1991.  Smith nemesis Sylvester (a sort of Moriarity) is introduced as more than a shadow to both the reader and Brad Smith. Read the Gravetapping review. 

Overhead.  The third Brad Smith adventure was issued in hardcover in 1991, and mass market in 1992.  This is the weakest of the Smith titles, but it is still a very readable and entertaining novel. Read the Gravetapping review.
Breakfast at Wimbledon.  It is the fourth Brad Smith novel.  It was released in hardcover in 1991, and mass market in 1992.  BAW is the first Jack Bickham title I read, and I can still remember picking it off the bookstore shelf on an overcast, and unusually cool day, in July. Read the Gravetapping review.

Double Fault.  The fifth Brad Smith novel.  It was released in hardcover in 1993, and mass market in 1994.  DF is the best of the Brad Smith novels.  It is the first to move away from the cold war story; it is a Vietnam revenge story, and it is the most personal of the Brad Smith novel. Read the Gravetapping review.

 The Davis Cup Conspiracy.  The sixth, and final Brad Smith (and Jack M. Bickham novel), published by TOR.  In this case it was published by TOR’s imprint Forge.  It was released in hardcover in 1994, and mass market in 1996.  The significant lag between the release of the hardcover and mass market paperback make me think this title didn’t sell as well as the earlier titles.

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