oakes_boysie_mv1 Oakes_Boysie1 oakes_boysie_nv1 Oakes_Boysie3 Oakes_Boysie2 Oakes_Boysie8 Oakes_Boysie6 Oakes_Boysie7 Oakes_Boysie5 oakes_boysie_nv2 Oakes_Boysie4
Full Name: Brian Ian Oakes
Series Name: The Liquidator
Nationality: British
Organization: Department Of Special Security
Occupation Agent

Creator: John Gardner
Time Span: 1964 - 1975


Boysie Oakes is an assassin for British Intelligence.

Imagine that you are THE assassin for the British government. You are responsible for the deaths of dozens of enemies of the state. You are feared by both the enemies and your own people.

Also imagine that you are deathly afraid of flying, the sight of blood makes you queasy, you have to hire a gangster to do the actual wet work, and you are scared to death that someone may catch on.

That is state of affairs for John Gardner's amazing Boysie Oakes!

Mostyn, deputy director of British Intelligence, had his first encounter with Oakes in the summer of 1944. He was working undercover in the back streets of Paris during the British repatriation when he was attacked by two Nazi operatives determined to eliminate him. Completely at a loss, he called out for help to a man who was running down the same alley.

This man, a sergeant in the tank corps, unflinchingly pulls his Colt automatic and in two swift shots kills both assailants. It was then that Mostyn noticed something even more remarkable than the man's daring or his aim. It was the man's ice cold eyes that were so filled with satisfaction at a job well done.

Years later, Mostyn was at hand when his boss came to the conclusion that what the British Secret Service desperately needed was a ruthless killing arm that could strike out at enemies, foreign and domestic, that were both a danger to the Empire and were outside its ability to handle via normal means.

They needed one man, an expert marksman with a total lack of compunction about killing. Mostyn was tasked with finding that man.

By chance, Mostyn glimpses a newspaper article about a murder of a proprietor of the Bird Sanctuary Café and Aviary. Along with the article was a picture of the deceased's partner what had just been grilled by the authorities and was being released for lack of evidence. The partner was Mostyn's savior from the war. And just the man Mostyn needed to save the Empire!

The problem with this scenario, however, is that Mostyn totally misread Oakes' demeanor and his behavior. Oakes is no cold-hearted killer with nerves of steel. He is a fraud who allows himself to be talked into joining the Department of Special Security because the money sounded good and the chance for woman was appealing. But as for killing, or worse, being killed, Oakes has no interest. If, however, he tells the truth, he will be fired and all the nice percs will go away.

So Oakes begins the deception and as he succeeds more and more, the truth becomes harder to reveal or remember.


Number of Books:8
First Appearance:1964
Last Appearance:1975

1 The Liquidator The Liquidator
Written by John Gardner
Copyright: 1964

All Boysie Oakes wanted was a brief weekend holiday in the French Riviera with a beautiful female companion. But that meant flying, which petrified him. And then he gets kidnapped. Some vacation.

2 Understrike Understrike
Written by John Gardner
Copyright: 1965

Playboy was the newest of the American fast attack submarines and it carried NATO's latest in deadly missiles. Vladimir Solev is sent to destroy it. His ace was that he was a dead-ringer for Boysie Oakes!

3 Amber Nine Amber Nine
Written by John Gardner
Copyright: 1966

Boysie Oakes returns to the business of liquidating those deemed in need of it, this time it is a Member of Parliament who has gone errant. Before he can make sure his "assistant" can take care of the job, Oakes is enmeshed in a strange espionage caper involving a girls finishing school.

4 Madrigal Madrigal
Written by John Gardner
Copyright: 1967

Boysie Oakes is in a tizzy as he is sent to East Berlin to handle a kill and he can't get in touch with his mortician "assistant". In Germany, he finds that both the Soviets and the Chinese are also wanting to talk with the target.

5 Founder Member Founder Member
Written by John Gardner
Copyright: 1969

Boysie Oakes' boss has gone private and started his own security firm, taking Oakes with him. Traveling to America to open a branch office, Oakes becomes involved with a missing rocket and nastiness on an island named Wizard.

6 Traitor's Exit Traitor's Exit
Written by John Gardner
Copyright: 1970

Still is not sure how he got involved in the Styles kidnapping, Boysie Oakes was suddenly in Russia dressed as an acrobat as part of the Internation Travelling Circus and bullets are flying and tanks rolling and other bad things going on.

7 Airline Pirates Airline Pirates
aka Air Apparent
Written by John Gardner
Copyright: 1970

At Mostyn's insistence, Boysie Oakes sets up a low-cost airline. Three luscious beauties are hired as hostesses. Then things start to go really bad as Oakes is again in the middle of spy shenanigans and it doesn't look promising.

8 Killer For A Song Killer For A Song
Written by John Gardner
Copyright: 1975

Boysie Oakes looks fondly back in his early, dashing days of his career, forgetting all the true things that really happened. But in the modern world of computerized spying, Mostyn realizes computers do not make good assassins so Oakes is needed once more.


Number of Stories:4
First Appearance:1968
Last Appearance:1974

Among his many other writing projects, the creator of Boysie Oakes penned four short stories about the not-so-super secret agent. He published them in two sets of short stories along with other subjects.

The first book of stories had an interesting theme to them in that they were, as I read in one spot, stories that a blown spy, fleeing the country where he was almost killed, read while on a plane. In between each story was more of what and why he was in the particular condition he was facing.

I do not know if a similar cohesion was done with the second collection but the fact that the first and last story have names so similar to each other makes me suspect it is.

1 Hideaway Hideaway
Written by John Gardner
Copyright: 1968

This is the name of the collection. The stores in it are:
1) Nobody Liked Cecil
2) A Handful of Rice [Boysie Oakes story #1]
3) The Two Voices Of Maurice
4) Friday Night
5) The Elopement
6) Kinky For Shrouds
7) Corkscrew [Boysie Oakes story #2]
8) A Living Thing
9) I Have

2 Assassination File Assassination File
Written by John Gardner
Copyright: 1974

This is the name of the collection. The stores in it are:
1) Brief Day Of Glory
2) Boysie Oakes and the Explosive Device [Boysie Oakes story #1]
3) The Character of Jonathan Fielder
4) The Man Who Passed 'Go'
5) The Hit
6) Here Is Your Life
7) Boy Meets Girl
8) Bang To Rights
9) Sunset At Paleokastritsa [Boysie Oakes story #2]
10) Day of Brief Glory


Number of Movies:1
First Appearance:1965
Last Appearance:1965

There was regrettably only one Boysie Oakes movie ever made but if you have just the one, this is a great one to have. It starred one of the most underrated actors of his generation, Rod Taylor, superbly protraying an easily frightened, incredibly lascivious Oakes. The stern countanence of Trevor Howard worked perfectly as the steel-hearted leader of the British Intelligence department in need of a cold-blooded killer. And the delectable Jill St. John, as Iris, is welcome in any movie at any time.

1 The Liquidator The Liquidator
Director: Jack Cardiff
Writers: Peter Yeldham, John Gardner
Actors: Rod Taylor as Boysie Oakes, Trevor Howard as Major Mostyn, Jill St. John as Iris, David Tomlinson as Quadrant, Wilfred Hyde-White as The Chief
Released: 1965

Adhering very closely to the book, this movie tells the story of how Oakes saves the life of Major Mostyn, quite by accident, during WWII and years later when Mostyn needs a cold-blooded killer for British Intelligence, he calls on Oakes. Oakes is really afraid of, well, just about everything.


Boysie Oakes is the product of John Gardner. According to "Who's Who In Spy Fiction", it was during a low period in Gardner's career that his editor strongly suggested a change. The change that Gardner made was to create a unique anti-hero, Boysie Oakes.

Having stated openly his detest of Ian Fleming's James Bond, Gardner made his own character everything that Bond was; urbane, suave, debonair, able to move through the halls of government and the palaces of nobility with a self-assured ease. He was also a complete and absolute fraud.

That made him a blast to read. He knew he was a fraud and you knew he was a fraud but everyone else thought him the real thing, and that was the true delight. The assignments that Oakes received were all fairly normal for the spy genre but the twist that you knew Oakes was really out of his depth made them terrific adventures.

It is a pity that John Gardner books available in both new and used book stores are almost certainly to not be the Boysie Oakes series that so deserve to be read and enjoyed. Instead, in a terrific stroke of irony that Gardner must have enjoyed, the books for which he is best known in the spy field are his own 16 James Bond novels which he wrote from 1981 to 1996!

Even more ironic is the fact that while he at one time hated the Bond character, he wrote more of them than the creator, Ian Fleming.


My Grade: B

Your Average Grade:   A


EddieLove A+ 2/4/2012 8:43:03 AM

I just read The Liquidator and loved it. Witty, very well written. Tight plot that's not at all confusing.

Sir Gerald A+ 5/9/2012 12:44:49 PM

With the BO series (the initials were not a mistake), Gardner created something unique in the annals of spy fiction - comedy thrillers that really thrilled. They are laugh out loud funny but are equally as gripping when viewed as thrillers - great stuff.

Andy Boot - 5/9/2013 11:50:08 PM

Except for the last entry, these are A++ books - witty, ironic, thrilling, and with an anti-hero who I suspect may have more in common with a lot of real spies than they would care to admit. I've never read any of Gardner's Bonds, of which I note he wrote twice a many as of his own hero. Irony is pretty big in JG's real world, too, then. These books pretty much sum up their time, and maybe that reflection is why the last book has a slightly sour note that I couldn't get on with, even though the writing was still excellent.

The Antic A- 2021-05-05

So far I have only read the first book and watched the corresponding film. I thoroughly enjoyed both. I was really reluctant to read them for no other reason than my detest for the main characters name. It’s worth looking past that just to get the enjoyment of the character and story. I still hate that name though. Boysie? Really? Boysie? Anyway. It was great to read and fun to watch. I highly recommend them. Even though the name Boysie is terrible.

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