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Friday, November 24, 2006

Colin Forbes (Raymond Henry Sawkins) 1923-2006

Thriller writer Colin Forbes (the pen-name of Raymond Henry Sawkins) died on 23 August 2006, although an obituary has only just appeared for him in The Times. Sawkins wrote a number of solid police procedurals under his own name in the late 1960s before switching to international thrillers and war stories a la Alistair MacLean. I was a big fan of his Tramp in Armour, Target Five and Year of the Golden Ape when they were paperbacked by Pan in the early 1970s. Forbes, like too many other writers, got sucked into the 'blockbuster' novel publishing of the 1980s when what could have been a good 250-pager was bloated into 400, 500 or even 700 pages. Most thrillers were not strong enough to sustain that kind of length and (I suspect like many), I drifted away to read other things. A shame, perhaps, as Forbes' spy novels featuring the character Tweed have been well reviewed over the years and my impatience with over-written novels has probably cost me a good read or two. C'est la vie.

(* The scan above, with a cover by Gino D'Achille, is a bit poor but I wanted to get this up before work.

(Later: I've subsequently discovered an obituary appeared in The Independent on 16 October which is unfortunately not to be found on their website.)

1 comment:

VJ said...

I just read your post about Colin Forbes' death. Almost 4 years late. I am a great fan of his earlier novels (esp the war genre). Just like you said they had the right amount of suspense, drama and action that was a bit similar to Alistair MacLean. Though I liked the initial few novels featuring Tweed like Cover Story, I began to see a similar pattern in all his later novels. Like you mentioned, I drifted off to other writers. Wish he had stuck to his original style. I'm sure he'd be more famous that way.