Novelist Lionel Davidson dies

November 3, 2009
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Tributes have been paid to Lionel Davidson, the thriller writers' thriller writer, who has died aged 87. Davidson, born in Hull in 1922, was praised by Graham Greene as the first contemporary storyteller to have recaptured the high adventure of Rider Haggard.

A long-time Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Davidson was a quiet man who produced just eight adult novels and a number of children's books and short stories. But his complex and intricate thrillers won him numerous awards, beginning with his first novel, The Night of Wenceslas, which brought him a Golden Dagger award from the Crime Writers' Association in 1960. Davidson became the only person ever to have won three Golden Daggers from the CWA and in 2001 was the recipient of the CWA's Diamond Dagger for his lifetime contribution to crime fiction.

He followed Wenceslas with The Rose of Tibet, A Long Way to Shiloh, Making Good Again, The Sun Chemist, Smith's Gazelle, The Chelsea Murders, and, in 1994, Kolymsky Heights. Four of these books, Shiloh, Smith's Gazelle, The Sun Chemist and Making Good Again could be said to be his "Jewish" novels, some written while Davidson was living in Israel between 1968 and 1978 with his young family. The Sun Chemist is his fictionalised version of Chaim Weizmann's work, while Making Good Again was a prescient thriller about German restitution.

Davidson is survived by his second wife, the writer Frances Ullman, and two sons from his first marriage.

    Last updated: 10:05am, November 3 2009