JOHN CRAIG

 
Full Name: John Craig
Nationality: British
Organization: MI-6
Occupation Agent

Creator: James Munro
Time Span: 1964 - 1972
ABOUT THE SERIES

       John Craig is an assassin for the British MI-6.
       An orphan since birth and brought up in an orphanage from hell until he was able to run away to join the Royal Navy in 1941 at the age of seventeen, Craig showed immediate and remarkable prowess in the handling of small boats. He was also highly proficient with small arms and unarmed combat. He soon transferred to the Special Boat Service in the Mediterranean where he rose in rank up to Lieutenant.
       Twice decorated, with the D.S.O. and the D.S.C., he took part in many raids in Italy, North Africa, and Greece. He was captured twice and escaped both times.
       By the time the war was over, he had amassed a considerable amount of contacts all over the Med and had become fluent in Italian, Greek, and French with a good deal of ability with Arabic and German.
       Joining the shipping firm, the Rose Line, he quickly rose in authority such that soon he was the number two man in the company. While the head of the firm, Sir Geoffrey, saw profits when most companies struggled, Craig saw profitability in smuggling and his reputation grew.
       Things might have continued if Craig hadn't angered the wrong people and his peaceful, albeit illegal, world was blown up. Literally.
       Always good with guns and boxing, Craig earned a black belt in judo from his friend, Hakagawa. After his enemies came after him, he got Hakagawa to also teach him the more dangerous art of karate, thus making him the 'man with the killer hands'.
       Craig's much despised boss is Loomis, the very fat, 'gross, sloppily-dressed' head of Department K. He uses Craig without guilt but not without considerable worry that Craig will one day mind being used. Helping him and working with Craig is Grierson, one of the eldest members of Department K. He is the man to first make contact with Craig and bring him into the organization but he will suffer greatly from the friendship he forms with this dangerous man.

BOOKS

Number of Books:4
First Appearance:1964
Last Appearance:1969

1 The Man Who Sold Death The Man Who Sold Death
Written by James Munro
Copyright: 1964

As a part-time smuggler running guns to Algerians, John Criag became the enemy of OAS. It cost the life of his brother-in-law. Wanting revenge, he was an obvious choice for the men from Department K, in need of someone of his ability. Craig became an agent, sent to defeat the leader of the OAS.

2 Die Rich Die Happy Die Rich Die Happy
Written by James Munro
Copyright: 1965

The Red Chinese are trying to get the small Arabic country of Zaarb to kick the British out and invite them in. Department K is ordered to prevent this and for that the services of John Craig is needed. Craig, however, has spent the last six months quite drunk in a port in Greece.

3 The Money That Money Can't Buy The Money That Money Can't Buy
Written by James Munro
Copyright: 1967

The Red Chinese were moving rockets into the area of Morocco aimed at London. The Russians knew this and wanted it stopped, not because they were friendly but because they feared ChiCom supremacy. Department K must please one to disappoint the other.

4 The Innocent Bystanders The Innocent Bystanders
Written by James Munro
Copyright: 1969

An escaped Soviet scientist had a secret that many different spies wanted, men who would not hesitate to kill to get it. Craig, totally disillusioned, is forced into service to get the scientist but for some reason, Department K seems determined to get him killed.

MOVIES

Number of Movies:1
First Appearance:1972
Last Appearance:1972

       Only one movie came from the four-book series but it was an enjoyable one that apparently did not do well enough to justify a second, which is a shame.
       One mildly interesting note is that the author, James Mitchell, wrote the series under the penname of James Munro but when it came time to create the screenplay, he used his own more established name and the credits for the writing was listed as 'Screenplay by James Mitchell from the Novel by James Munro.'

1 Innocent Bystanders Innocent Bystanders
Director: Peter Collinson
Writer: James Mitchell
Actors: Stanley Baker as John Craig, Geraldine Chaplin as Miriam Loman, Donald Pleasence as Loomis, Dana Andrews as Blake
Released: 1972

John Craig is sent to get a scientist that other agents from other countries are willing to kill to get as well.

MY COMMENTS

       I never really liked the character of John Craig but I enjoyed reading about him. The item that most alienated me was the lack of consistency in the character. He starts out fairly dangerous and self-sufficient, and then falls apart to become a drunk. He sobers up again and looks like he will be an efficient agent but soon crosses over to almost a 'mad-dog' state.
       The changes in character wouldn't be bad - indeed, they would be a great character study in what the job does to a man - but they are too abrupt for my taste.
       Nevertheless, the stories are good reads and the character does come up with a couple of the greatest one-liners I've ever read.

GRADE

My Grade: B

Your Average Grade:   A+

YOUR OPINIONS
Sir Gerald A+ 5/18/2012 12:05:06 PM

This series was authored by James Mitchell, the creator of Callan, writing as James Munro. His debut, "The Man Who Sold Death" was fantastic and was very fresh. As the series progressed, I think it suffered because Mitchell didn't seem to Know if he wanted to back Craig or Callan. Personally, although I think the Callan TV series is excellent, from a literary perspective, I think he should have focused on Craig. The character had the potential to be up there with Blaise and Bond!


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