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France

Prolific French spy novelist De Villiers dies aged 83

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-11-13

Best-selling French spy novelist Gerard De Villiers, known for his raunchy story lines and his huge network of contacts in the world of espionage, has died in Paris aged 83. He had just published his 200th novel in the "SAS" series.

Prolific French spy novelist Gerard De Villiers, the creator of the top-selling SAS series often described as France's answer to James Bond, has died aged 83 in Paris, his lawyer said on Friday.

De Villiers died on Thursday "after a long illness," said Eric Morain, his longtime attorney.

Never a darling of the critics, De Villiers was nonetheless a publishing phenomenon, with his publishers claiming his books had sold more than 100 million copies worldwide since he began writing in 1964.

The 200th book in the series – "SAS: The Kremlin's Revenge" – was released last month.

Instantly recognisable by their lurid covers with femmes fatales brandishing guns, and containing a regular smattering of hard-core sex, his books were shunned by France's literary establishment.

But outside literary circles, De Villiers was often praised for his geopolitical insights and was known for cultivating a vast network of intelligence officials, diplomats and journalists who fed him information.

In February, the New York Times described him as "the spy novelist who knows too much" in an interview in Paris that took place following his return from Afghanistan, where he had been researching material for his 198th and 199th novels.

His death came as he seemed on the verge of realising a long-cherished dream of breaking into the English-language market, with reports he had signed a deal with a major US publisher for the release of translations of several SAS books.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-11-01

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