Desmond Cory

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Desmond Cory was the pen name of a prolific British thriller writer whose real name was Shaun Lloyd McCarthy (February 16, 1928, Lancing, Sussex – January 2001) and who is probably best-known for his series featuring a secret agent named Johnny Fedora. Cory wrote more than 40 novels, including the creation of serial characters such as Johnny Fedora, a tough but debonair British agent, half-Irish and half-Spanish, who had been a combatant in the Spanish Civil War. He also wrote screenplays for Graham Greene novels such as England Made Me, and had a number of his own novels turned into films and television thrillers.

Cory's writing career spanned more than 40 years, during which time he used at least three different pen names. Academics cover his works in such books as British Mystery and Thriller Writers Since 1940, and Detecting Men: A Reader's Guide and Checklist for Mystery Series Written By Men.

Critical appraisal of Cory

  • "Even though Johnny Fedora predates James Bond, comparisons with Ian Fleming's better known hero are inevitable. Agent 007's popularity is often attributed to the admission by President John F. Kennedy that From Russia With Love was one of his favourite novels. After that revelation in 1957, sales of the Fleming spy novel soared. Seven years later when [Cory's] Hammerhead was republished in the United States as Shockwave, the book jacket carried a quote from Anthony Boucher of the New York Times saying that Johnny Fedora "more than deserves to take over James Bond’s avid audience." Reviews of Feramontov and Ian Fleming's Octopussy appeared side by side in the New York Times Book Review of 1966. Of Feramontov a reviewer said, "As one has come to expect from Cory, colorful action, copious carnage, elaborate intrigue, frequent surprises." Octopussy, however, was dismissed as "a thin and even emaciated volume." In reviewing Timelock, Boucher commented, "I must say once more that I find Cory's Johnny Fedora a much more persuasive violent, sexy and lucky agent than James Bond."—Prof. Marcia Songer, taken from her white paper on the "Evolution of Desmond Cory", 2003
  • "There is these days a comparatively slender band of first-class writers who are producing thrillers worthy of serious attention – among them authors like Margaret Allingham, John Creasy, Carter Dickson, David Dodge, Ellery Queen, Simenon, and, of course Agatha Christie. Among them, too, is Desmond Cory, a man whose ingenuity, imagination, and good humour pervade his works with an agreeable excitement and read-ability."—Bristol Evening Post 1960
  • "You hear that there was a Golden Age of thrillers in Britain between the wars. When you read Cory you realize that it hasn’t ended."—Echo - 1993
  • "Readers who like their thrillers to complement their intelligence must on no account miss Mr. Cory."—Edmund Crispin, The Sunday Times 1971

Works—Johnny Fedora novels

See also