Peaceful death for thriller king

THE DEATH of another doyen of British popular fiction was announced last night. Hammond Innes, the best-selling thriller writer, was 84.

His agent said he died peacefully at his home in Kersey, Suffolk, on Wednesday.

Ralph Hammond Innes was famous for a love of travel which inspired many of his 35 adventure novels. He was born in 1913, the son of a bank manager, and began his career as a journalist on the Financial News, which later became the Financial Times.

His former publisher Ian Chapman, who used to be chairman of Collins, said last night: "I have known him since 1951 and he was a close personal friend as well as a gifted storyteller. That was his gift, to tell these stories so elegantly. He was great to work with. If there was ever editorial comment or criticism his hackles didn't rise. He travelled all over the world and never set a book in a country without visiting the country first."

In 1959, one of Innes' most popular novels, Wreck of the Mary Deare, about an insurance fraud on the high seas, was made into a Hollywood movie starring Charlton Heston, Gary Cooper and Michael Redgrave.

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