Donald Hamilton

Donald Hamilton was a U.S. writer of novels, short stories, and non-fiction about the outdoors. His novels consist mostly of paperback originals, principally spy fiction but also crime fiction and Westerns such as The Big Country. He is best known for his long-running Matt Helm series (1960-1993), which chronicles the adventures of an undercover counter-agent/assassin working for a secret American government agency.Hamilton began his writing career in 1946, fiction magazines like Collier's Weekly and The Saturday Evening Post. His first novel Date With Darkness was published in 1947; over the next forty-six years he published a total of thirty-eight novels. Most of his early novels whether suspense, spy, and western published between 1954 and 1960, were typical paperback originals of the era: fast-moving tales in paperbacks with lurid covers. Several classic western movies, The Big Country and The Violent Men, were adapted from two of his western novels. The Matt Helm series, published by Gold Medal Books, which began with Death of a Citizen in 1960 and ran for 27 books, ending in 1993 with The Damagers, was more substantial.Helm, a wartime agent in a secret agency that specialized in the assassination of Nazis, is drawn back into a post-war world of espionage and assassination after fifteen years as a civilian. He narrates his adventures in a brisk, matter-of-fact tone with an occasional undertone of deadpan humor. He describes gunfights, knife fights, torture, and (off-stage) sexual conquests with a carefully maintained professional detachment, like a pathologist dictating an autopsy report or a police officer describing an investigation. Over the course of the series, this detachment comes to define Helm's character. He is a professional doing a job; the job is killing people. Hamilton was a skilled outdoorsman and hunter who wrote non-fiction articles for outdoor magazines and published a book-length collection of them. For several years he lived on his own yacht, then relocated to Sweden where he resided until his death in 2006.
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