The November Man

I didn’t take long for Pierce Brosnan to try renewing his license to kill. Variety reports that Brosnan is slated to star in THE NOVEMBER MAN, based on the 1986  novel "There Are No Spies" by Bill Granger. The book is actually one of a series featuring a spy named Devereaux, aka The November Man (not to be confused with the 1976  novel "The November Man" by Brian Freemantle)

19 thoughts on “The November Man”

  1. Also not to be confused with **shudder** THE JANUARY MAN, starring Kevin Kline. I read several of the Devereaux books in the ’80s and always enjoyed them. They’re very much of their time, though, focusing on the Russians. It’ll be interesting to see how they’re updated.

  2. Interesting. I was just thinking about Granger the other day, wondering if he was still publishing. Apparently not. I read quite a few of those November Man novels. Very straightforward espionate. One of the better was “No More Secrets.” Not terribly James Bond-ish. More LeCarre-ish.
    And the Drover books are good, too.

  3. I have always loved Granger’s novels and the very existential core they had. He started out writing sports-related mysteries (far pre-dating Simon Bolitar) … As I pull an oft-read copy of his works for yet another read, I have often wondered if he is still alive…

  4. I don’t know whether Granger is still alive, but back in 2003, he suffered a stroke that seemed to have wiped out most of his memories of his career. I read a very sad article about him in the Suburban Chicago Daily Herald, the link to which has disappeared.
    This from a Google cache:
    “Bill Granger, who has worked at the Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times and other Illinois papers, is in a veterans’ home at 61 after suffering a stroke. Burt Constable writes: “He grasped the cruel irony that the stroke, which robbed him of his mind, has made him stronger physically by forcing him to forgo alcohol, cigarettes and fatty foods. He always seemed to be in the processing of giving up one of those three — occasionally resulting in odd lunches of nothing but beer and cigarettes. …In addition to taking away alcohol and his other vices, the stroke made him ‘a nicer person,’ Granger figured.”

  5. I read a review of November Man in a book by another author. It was described as a really good first book by a new author. I searched everywhere for it and finally found a copy on a website. I was simply blown away. A precise, cool, clever, experienced and weary middle-aged spy, trying to do his job conscientiously, despite the deceptive motives and orders of his superiors — a maverick. Cold but with a very well-disguised heart. I ordered every book on Devereaux and when I saw there were none printed after about 1993, I saved three to read later. I am thrilled that Hollywood has finally discovered this wonderful, American, 007 — the November Man. Nothing is ever as simple as black and white with him — everything is gray with layers upon layers of mystery. The November Man! I simply love him.

  6. Hello,
    I was Googling for Bill Granger because I’m reading Henry McGee is not dead and stumbled across this blog. I found through Lexis Nexis a full account of his stroke and the most recent news story from May 29th 2003 in the Chicago Daily Herald. Here it is as there are no free links to post:
    Whims of time take toll on lifelong writer
    BYLINE: Burt Constable
    SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 1
    LENGTH: 1246 words
    This is the kind of compelling human story Bill Granger was made to tell. Instead, Granger sits in the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Manteno, a prisoner of his memory.
    A prolific author and gifted newspaper columnist whose career spanned the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and Daily Herald, Granger was 58 when he was felled by a stroke in January of 2000.
    “He never made it into the year 2000,” Lori Granger says of her husband. His physical self occupies a bed in the Veterans’ Home’s “special care unit” – a wing of the skilled nursing home that must be locked to keep patients from wandering away. Granger’s mind wanders aimlessly around in the past.
    He sounds cogent, in the moment. But his moments are whims of time. Sometimes, Granger thinks it’s 1998, and he’s living in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood and writing a column for the Daily Herald. Other times, he’s convinced that he needs to get back to his childhood home, the apartment building at 41st and Berkeley on Chicago’s South Side, where he and his buddies played games in the alleys, and Sister Amanda at St. Ambrose Elementary School first encouraged him to write.
    He’d be the only boy in his class to come home with a notebook filled with writing.
    “Why did she make just you write?” his mother would ask accusingly. “Did you do something bad?”
    Eventually, she grew to understand that writing was Granger’s reward, his passion, his life. He made money and a name by authoring 28 books, mostly mysteries and spy novels. But “newspapering” is how he made his living.
    “I can’t think of a day without newspapering in it,” Granger says, sitting on his bed in the veterans’ home just north of Kankakee. He was a master of newspapering.
    One day in the 1990s, Granger came into the Daily Herald to drop off his daily column only to discover that breaking news had rendered his theme obsolete minutes before his deadline.
    “O.K. I’ll give you another one,” Granger grumbled in the direction of an editor. He plopped his frame before a keyboard and let his pudgy fingers fly. Twenty minutes later, he turned in a column that started with a current topic, wound through his childhood on the South Side, dragged along a couple of those nuns from his grade school, recapped an adventure and tied the whole thing up in a nice, tidy story.
    Even in his current state, he remembers the exhilaration of how it feels to write.
    “Boom! Boom! Boom!” Granger says, comparing writing a newspaper column to taking a shower. “It’s outside influences. The mat that’s supposed to keep your feet from slipping on the tile is pushing up on your feet. The water’s hitting you in the face. ‘All right, you son of a bitch, let’s go.’ And 45 seconds later, it’s over. That, to me, is the fun of journalism. You just drive 75 miles an hour and you’ll get there. Just go.”
    With a 65 mph speed limit, Lori Granger can make her weekly pilgrimage from Chicago to Manteno in less than 90 minutes. Five minutes after she leaves, her husband might forget that she was there.
    “It’s grim,” says Lori, who is a lawyer and has co-authored books with her husband. “It’s sad.”
    When the stroke first happened, Granger joked about his memory loss.
    “I can watch the same ‘Seinfeld’ episodes again and again, and laugh each time,” Granger cracked often in the weeks after his stroke.
    He grasped the cruel irony that the stroke, which robbed him of his mind, has made him stronger physically by forcing him to forgo alcohol, cigarettes and fatty foods. (“I don’t want to talk about it too much for fear I’ll miss it,” Granger says softly, sighing purposely before confessing, “God, I loved drinking.”) He always seemed to be in the processing of giving up one of those three – occasionally resulting in odd lunches of nothing but beer and cigarettes.
    “I’m going to write a book -‘The Accidental Buddhist,’ ” Granger quipped often in the months after his 2000 stroke. In addition to taking away alcohol and his other vices, the stroke made him “a nicer person,” Granger figured.
    But his brain wouldn’t let him enjoy his newfound self. He’d sit at his typewriter to start his new book, and forget why he was there. An hour later, he’d have this wonderfully fresh idea to write a book called “The Accidental Buddhist.” It was as if he were the Bill Murray character in the movie “Groundhog Day,” forced to live the same moment over and over.
    Sitting in his sparse but cozy room at the Veterans’ Home, Granger hears his book idea as if it’s the very first time.
    “That’s very good,” he says, the chuckle escaping from his bushy beard, a chuckle that flirts with becoming one of his full-fledged belly laughs. “I’m glad you remembered that. I’d forgotten it.”
    He remembers, always, how much he loves his wife, their only child, Alec, and their dog, Banner, an aging black whippet. Photographs of them (and those of his sisters and their families) decorate his room. But in his head at this moment, his son, now 26, is just starting high school.
    Granger turns 62 on Sunday. The average age of the 268 other veterans at the Home is 76, says Barry Baron, adjutant for the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Granger had to wait a year for a spot to open. There are more names on the waiting list than residents, Baron adds.
    Government foots most of the bill, but veterans must pay costs according to their income, up to a maximum of $929 a month, which is still cheaper than many private nursing facilities, Baron says.
    Fond of noting “I was drafted the year Kennedy was shot,” Granger served a stint in the Army, but did not see combat.
    Talk about writing, and his eyes twinkle.
    “Don’t put your heart and soul in it,” Granger says of the craft. “Keep your soul for yourself. Keep your heart for your wife’s pocket. If you want to live, live – and write about it later.”
    His book, “November Man,” and the series built on that character, sold the most copies. But “Public Murders” was his favorite “because it was real and gritty,” says the man who once defined real and gritty.
    “I think my characters are what I would be if I were clever. But I’m rarely as clever as the characters I write,” he says.
    “What I tried to do with writing is figure out a way to make money writing, and to have fun.”
    He calls writing “a noble effort.” But he no longer has the attention span to read, or even watch TV.
    “I’ll flop on my bed and stare at the ceiling,” Granger says.
    Ask him if he needs anything and he retorts, “A gun, so I can get out of here.”
    But with a mind no longer able to keep track of the years, Granger is spared the agony of killing hours. He seems happy, polite, gregarious. He dismisses the locked doors of his unit as some beefed-up security measure to keep protesters away from the veterans. He hasn’t bothered making friends, he says, because he’s just here a few days for some tests.
    “It’s not a home. This is just the joint where I’m living,” Granger insists. “I am O.K. to write. I know I am. I just had to get over being nuts. I’m going to write about this. I think it’s interesting. Everybody has a closed-up spirit where you close down, kind of fitted for a coffin before you go into the grave. This has given me time to think about everything.”
    He points to his head.
    “There are a million stories here,” he says. “That’s all it is. The stories are just crying to get out.”

  7. Just got started on The November Man and Drover books. Certainly in the LeCarre tradition. Shame about the author’s illness for I think he would certainly have a tons of real life material these day to work from these days.

  8. OH. Oh, no, no, no.
    Well, now I know what happened to Bill Granger, my favorite author and, in some ways, an inspiration to me as a writer.
    I’ve checked the web for his “new book” once or twice a year for several years now and always been surprised at how little info I found. And I never knew about the stroke, about Manteno, about the end of a great career.
    I’m so very sorry. I always thought that he’d retired from novel writing. That he’d been a success and maybe, he and his wife Lori had moved to some exotic locale for an unretiring retirement. Though I was always sad (for myself) to find that there wasn’t a new November Man novel, I was always happy to think of Granger enjoying life somewhere.
    I met him once, very briefly. It was a book signing, back, God, a long time ago. I still have the signed hard copies, of course. The series was very important to me, influential. I remember him as a journalist as well, which is what I do to earn a living most of the time.
    So sorry.

  9. Bill and Lori were great friends and customers of mine . They were always in the restaurant for lunch dinner or breakfast at least 5 days a week . If not to eat Bill would come in before my shief was over and have a drink. He wrote a few articles about me and I really miss both of them.. If they see this please give them my Love
    Kim from Cartons

  10. Bill, Lori and Alec were customers of our at Buttoms Bay Inn in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, where they had a second home. We discussed many things while overlooking the lake or driving Bill home at night. He was well-versed in many, many areas and this made him a very interesting person to be around. We had many laughs with him and many serious talks with him and always came out of them thinking we were fortunate to have met him. We send our best wishes to Bill, Lori and Alec and pray for them.

  11. I have wondered for years what happened to Bill Granger. I am sorry beyond words to hear that he no longer writes, especially the November Man. So, so sorry. It is a little comforting though, that he seems to be happy in his present circumstances.

  12. We are so sorry to hear of Bill’stroke and illness we didn’t know what happened to him we used to read his articles in Chicago Tribune and then the Daily Herald Tonight when watching Channel 11 we saw Bill in the interview and we looked him up on line and this is how we found what happened
    Please let him know how much we enjoyed reading his book and articles.

  13. I can not remember where or when, but during the past ten years, maybe at an estate sale or auction, I got a bunch of very old photographs. One of them is of the sail ship “Granger of Chicago” docked on the Chicago River. It is a great photo that looks to be from the early 1900s or late 1800s. I will send the scanned photo (.jpg) if anyone thinks it might be a bit of family history. It’s a great old photograph! SM

  14. I was thumbing through the net to check on updates of Bill’s health because I always wanted to get a signed copy of his next novel to my uncle. Weird story. I was in Door County WI looking at my uncle’s collection of books in his library when I noticed the whole November Man collection by Bill Granger. At the time I didn’t even know he wrote books. I just recalled the name from when I remodeled a kitchen in Chicago for a man with the same name who wrote freelance for Chicago papers. Sure enough, it was the same man.
    He was a nice enough guy but I was slightly scared of him. Seemed like the type of guy that could really fly off the handle. I remember some of the plastic tubing on his refrigerator was cracked and leaking and that I just somehow fixed it for fear that he would yell at me or something.
    One day he told me he would write about me for his column. “Me!? I protested.” “Sure, why not?” He said. “I write about anything that happens everyday. You’re in my house doing work and I’d like to write about it.” Well, needless to say, I told him to hold off for a while before he made me too busy and it never happened. Would have been nice though.

  15. reading League of Terror for the second time reminded me how much i miss bill granger and his books. i had the pleasure of meeting him and his wife at a book signing at a bar/resturant in chicago. i was impressed with his genuineness–after the crowd had dispersed he joined me where i had been sitting alone,reading and drinking. he said he appreciated that i drove in from indiana. we comisserated about our respective sons who weren’t as diligent and productive as we had wishe. we recollected our catholic school days and i told him that i always wanted to be a writer but my journalism teacher discouraged me,telling me that i would starve because i eas always late with my work and i was smart but lazy. bill laughed when i told him that she expected me to have my column in by friday even if the game wasn,t played until saturday. sadly, i misplaced the book he signed. i wiuld really like to visit bill and bring a six pak of bud and have him sign a book and tell him how much joy he has brought into this bo,ring doctor,s live with his novels.
    league of
    terror for the 2nd tim

  16. Today is January 2nd, 2010 and I was driven to Google
    for information on Bill Granger, my love and author of the Novemberman who, in my phantasie, was the Novemberman Author himself incarnate. I miss the writer and his work, and I wish him well and many more years to live if he is happy in his state of health and mind,in which that unfortunate stroke froze him years ago.I also wish his wife the strenght and love and health to go on with a burdensome life.
    Looking across from my computer I see, on my bookshelves, all of Bill’s fabulous thrillers, some are
    signed, all are 1st editions. I could never wait to get
    my hands on The Novemberman or, then, on the Chicago books of crime and scenery,- I do miss him, strangely
    so, considering how much reading I do and how many authors one meets during the years.
    If there are any news out there abou Bill’s health, let me know, please.
    Helmdeep Roling-Ludwig

  17. Hi, Mr.Matuszak. Happy New Year to you.
    I happened to check Google on information about Bill Granger and ended up reading all these postings. Hopefully, my e-mail reaches you. there is so much time between these [postings. I would like very much one scanned photo of Bill Granger if that’s possible.
    I miss him and the unwritten books he might
    still have published if this unfortunate stroke had not hit him several years ago.
    I wished I knew how is doing.
    I will attach the photo to one of the books,
    I believe I have all of those he wrote, some signed, most are 1st editions.
    Thank you very much for attention.
    Helmdeep Roling-Ludwig


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