Callan complete!

eccab48ab2c249da06268d8258ef4639The following comes courtesy of Mike Ripley: Ostara Publishing’s Top Notch Thrillers imprint has now completed its republication of the five-volume series of novels by the late James Mitchell which feature his iconic secret agent hero David Callan. Originally created for a one-off television drama in 1967, Callan – the surly but vulnerable and ferociously downbeat professional hitman working for a very dirty section of British Intelligence – struck an instant chord with the viewing public. As portrayed by actor Edward Woodward, Callan went on to feature in highly successful television series (1967-1972), a film, (reviewed here) a TV movie, 40 short  stories  syndicated  worldwide  in  newspapers and five novels.

Top Notch Thriller editions of the Callan novels began to appear in 2013 and now the long out-of-print fourth and fifth volumes –  Smear Job  and  Bonfire Night – are available as trade paperbacks and eBooks.

First published in 1975, Smear Job is the longest and most densely-plotted of the Callan novels, featuring all the characters Mitchell created for ‘the Section’– his fictional (one hopes!) department which deals in surveillance, blackmail and even assassination of anyone deemed a threat to national security Callan’s sidekick Lonely – the cowardly and often pungent professional burglar– play a key role, as do Spencer Purceval FitzMaurice, Toby Meres and even Hunter finds himself ‘in the field’ as the action moves, at Mitchell’s typicallylightning pace, from Sicily to London gangland, to Las Vegas and Mexico, from Cold War West Germany to the deserted Suffolk coast.

Bonfire Night, the fifth and final book in the series, was written more than 25 years later and published in 2002, the year of James Mitchell’s death. It has been out of print for 13 years and, with no previous paperback edition, this rapidly became the most sought-after of the Callan novels. The new Top Notch Thriller edition comes with a specially-written Introduction by the author’s son, Peter Mitchell, describing the extraordinary circumstances under which Bonfire Night was written, towards the end of his father’s life.

5ac3f55f5021a557db48b22d3d936388Series  editor Mike Ripley said: “Since the Top  Notch  Thrillers imprint was established in 2009 to revive and republish great British thrillers, we have had many requests from readers to reissue  Bonfire Night  – ‘the lost Callan’ – far more   than for any other title   and we are now proud to so. After long consultation with the author’s son Peter, I have   kept editing to the bare minimum so that dedicated Callan fans can read this final coda to the Callan saga as the author intended. It is something of a ‘difficult’ book as Mitchell tried to merge a typically serpentine plot with major developments in the lives of his main characters. Callan is now rich, in danger of falling in love, and living in retirement in his own personal castle in Spain and the new Hunter heading the Section, is a woman. The seismic character change, though, is for Lonely, who has (thanks to a prison education   course) become a computer genius and software millionaire!”

But if the world of Callan seems to have turned upside down, he still finds himself having to deal with old enemies (including a vicious ex-Stasi villain who tortured  Callan in East  Berlin back in the day) and treacherous former allies, but he does so with all the ruthless efficiency of the Callan of old. “In his Introduction, Peter Mitchell describes, sensitively and poignantly, how Bonfire  Night  came to be written and I strongly recommend his account to readers.”

Smear Job (£12.99) and Bonfire Night (£10.99) are now available as Print-On-Demand trade paperbacks. For further information visit

Other Callan titles by James Mitchell from Ostara Publishing are:

  • A Magnum for Schneider – review here
  • Russian Roulette
  • Death and Bright Water
  • Callan Uncovered [short stories and scripts] – review here
  • Callan Uncovered 2 [short stories and scripts] – review here


This entry was posted in David Callan, James Mitchell, Ostara Publishing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Callan complete!

  1. Colin says:

    Good to see the series of book all available now.

  2. Margot Kinberg says:

    Oh, this is good news, Sergio! Thanks for sharing.

  3. tracybham says:

    I hope to read one of these one day, It is great that Top Notch has made these available. Sergio. I look forward to your review of SMEAR JOB.

  4. Never seen, never heard of James Mitchell until now. Thanks for bringing the author and his work to my notice, Sergio. I like the fact that David Callan works for a “dirty section of British Intelligence,” which kind of reminds me of Sean Dillon and other agents who work covertly for Brigadier Charles Ferguson’s secret outfit in British Intel, in the novels of Jack Higgins.

  5. Ah Callan. I loved him in the TV series, but I think I’ll leave it at that.

  6. Matt Paust says:

    I’ve found two of them on Kindle for $7.99. Callan Uncovered. The Callan series sounds like a winner, Sergio. And I really like the cover of Bonfire Night.

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