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Thursday, September 7, 2023

The Trials of Hank Janson [New Edition]


The Trials of Hank Janson
Published: 6 September 2023.
Format: US trade paperback (6" x 9"), 318 pages of cream paper with matte cover. Also available as a casebound hardback and on Kindle. Please note that not all formats are available in all territories.


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If you want signed copies of the book or a copy in hardback in territories where Amazon do not supply, contact me directly at the address below the photo (top right).


A perfect storm of paper shortages and fly-by-night publishers in the years after World War II led to a boom in cheaply produced American-style hard-boiled crime fiction. Hank Janson, dubbed the ‘Best of Tough Gangster Authors’—in truth a south London former shipping clerk turned publisher—sold five million copies of his novels to a public who craved excitement and escapism in Hank’s violent, sexually charged world.

The courts took a more damning view, destroying hundreds of thousands of paperbacks and magazines that were judged obscene. Janson’s novels, with their voluptuous pin-up covers, were a regular target, but requests for guidance from authorities went unanswered. Then, Janson’s publisher and distributor were arrested, tried and jailed.

This is the story of Hank Janson, of his creator Stephen D Frances, and how, out of the ashes of destruction orders levelled at cheap gangster novels, the Obscene Publications Act was reformed.

THE TRIALS OF HANK JANSON was a runner-up for the Crime Writers’ Association’s Golden Dagger Award. This revised and expanded edition reveals more of the background and people behind the much-maligned  author whose books eventually sold twenty million copies, were translated widely, and who had an arrest warrant issued, should he dare to return to the UK from his home in Spain.

This new edition of the book reinstates a chapter missing from for the original edition, as well as adding information not available twenty years ago.


"I always assumed Hank Janson was a tough ex cop turned writer living in the Bronx.Now I find he was a rather mild Englishman but still a great writer who's books sold in their millions. This is a very well researched bio with some great photos. The guy had a strange and hard life and worked hard at his craft.Literary snobs turn up their noses at the name Hank Janson but you can't argue with massive sales and this book confirms that he was one of the best modern day writer's. A great behind the scenes read."—Amazon. (5 stars)

"This fine book is several stories in one volume: a biography of Stephen Frances, author of pulp thrillers and other works of popular literature; an account of the "life" of Frances' best-known creation and occasional alter ego, Hank Janson; the tale of seat-of-the pants publishing in postwar England; and a chapter in the long 20th Century history of moral authority attempting to suppress books people want to read, the low rent district not far from Lady Chatterley's farm. Steve Holland's prose is clear and he sorts deftly through the sometimes complex accounts of who published whom under which names, sometimes with unclear attribution or authorship. The court cases are largely portrayed through transcripts, some of which reach Carrollian depths of assumed guilt before the trial even begins. Altogether, this book is mostly the story of a writer during the last great age of fictioneering, pumping out several books a month across multiple genres, successful enough and proud of his art even in the face of blue nosed persecution. It's a great story."—Bill Wallace, Goodreads (4 stars)

"Steve Holland has done a great job in presenting the facts how Hank Janson aka Stephen Frances was stitched up by the Justiciary under the all embracing Obscene Publications Act This is the definitive book that every Hank Janson fan will want to read."—Amazon. (4 stars)

What a fascinating book! A cracking read and so well written. Holland keeps our interest from start to finish. We follow a rough chronological order of the life and times and events in Stephen Frances / Hank Janson's life. Holland never lets go of his objective to focus on censorship and prosecutions in the 50s and also letting us behind the veil in seeing a man whose life was dedicating to writing."—Amazon (5 stars)

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