Desmond Bagley 1923-1983
The internationally acclaimed bestselling English author Desmond Bagley, known to his friends as Simon, was born on 29th October 1923 at a cottage in Stramongate, Kendal, Westmorland (Cumbria). He died, aged 59, on 12th April 1983 in a Southampton hospital after suffering a stroke, leaving us a literary canon of seventeen published novels and a handful of short stories, articles and interviews.
At the time of his death he was reputed to be one of the highest paid writers of fiction novels in the world. Remarkable considering he left school at the age of fourteen having failed to pass any exams, suffered a life-long speech impediment and was nearly forty years old when his first novel, The Golden Keel, was published.
In his obituary, which appeared in The Times on 14th April 1983, he was described as a ‘craftsmanlike thriller novelist’. Bagley was skilled in the art of thriller writing; he travelled extensively and displayed a detailed knowledge of the geographical locations used for the settings in his novels combined with a thorough knowledge of cultural traditions, natural phenomena and technological details.
Mike Ripley, the author of Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang – The boom in British Thrillers from Casino Royal to The Eagle Has Landed, commented of Bagley:
As was often said about Bagley, his books were not so much about spies or even crimes – though they certainly feature – but about a group of interesting people in an interesting, often dangerous, landscape.
He was certainly in their tradition of British adventure writers, having fairly wholesome heroes who avoided sex and who operated in well-researched foreign locations.
The unpublished thriller by the master of the genre
Discovered after more than 40 years, a vintage action-adventure novel by one of the world’s most successful thriller writers, involving murder, corruption and a daring hijack in the Caribbean.
‘What a wonderful book! Domino Island ticks all the boxes for top-notch thriller writing: a plot that unfolds quick as a race car (or I should say Learjet?), exotic locales, intrigue that draws us into manor houses, posh hotels, and the high seats of government, and a protagonist for all time, Bill Kemp—part James Bond, part Philip Marlowe, and all hero. A brilliant and timeless novel.’ Jeffery Deaver
‘Desmond Bagley was a gifted exponent of the action thriller, and the discovery of his previously unpublished novel Domino Island is a delightful find. Bagley blends a whodunit mystery with a characteristically fast-paced adventure story set on a Caribbean island, with entertaining results.’
Martin Edwards, author of Gallows Court and The Golden Age of Murder.
‘British writers dominated the action thriller genre in the Sixties and Seventies, as if to show that, even post-Empire, we could still police the world, if only on paper. Leading our mega-sellers was Desmond Bagley, whose thrillers featured cucumber-cool Brits sorting out trouble in unusually well-realised exotic locations.’ Jake Kerridge
The seventeenth Bagley novel is now available!
Forthcoming publication dates:
American hardback edition – 29th October 2019
UK paperback edition – 28th May 2020
Explore the novels of Desmond Bagley including first edition covers and original publishers ‘blurb’.
2017 saw the re-issue of the novels in paperback, eBook and audio book format. Read interviews with established authors Peter James, Jeremy Duns and Caro Ramsay, all admirers of Bagley’s novels.
A bibliography of non-fiction articles, periodical publications and interviews
Read an article about Bagley’s thoughts on writing action fiction
The definitive online archive for Bagley’s Cold War espionage thriller set in Iceland. There is much to discover, whether you have a love of Desmond Bagley, Running Blind, Iceland or all three.
With well researched and informative articles the archive can also act as a travelogue for those people wishing to visit Iceland.
A gallery displaying cover art used for the UK first editions of Desmond Bagley’s novels.
A gallery displaying cover art used for Desmond Bagley’s novels published in 2017 under the HarperCollins Collins Crime Club Imprint.
A gallery displaying Japanese cover art used for Desmond Bagley’s novels.
A gallery displaying Polish cover art used for Desmond Bagley’s novels.
A gallery within the Running Blind archive displaying world-wide cover art used for Desmond Bagley’s Cold War thriller set in Iceland.
A gallery displaying cinema lobby cards for The Mackintosh Man, Warner Brothers Inc. 1973 film adaptation of Desmond Bagley’s 1971 novel The Freedom Trap.
- The Le Vasseur connection July 20, 2019
- ‘En garde’ – The Bagleys and the Sarnia Sword Club April 26, 2019
- Bagley book jacket briefing March 1, 2019