In the last decade of his life, Don moved back to Sweden, where he’d been born, and lived there with his son, Gordon. He died peacefully, in his sleep, this past November. Gordon kept the fact of his death private until today, when he confirmed it in a phone conversation with me.
We’ve lost a number of giants of the mystery field over the past few years — Mickey Spillane, Ed McBain, and Richard S. Prather, among others — and Donald Hamilton is very much of that caliber. He sold more than 20 million books during his lifetime. But unlike Spillane, McBain and Prather, all of whom were widely remembered at the time of their death, Don’s passing has sadly gone unremarked.
Back in 2002, Matt Helm fan Frank Sennett wrote a piece for Booklist called The Death of Matt Helm? examining the fate of the final, unpublished Helm book. It’s also a great overview for those unfamiliar with Hamilton.
Charles is right — we’ve lost a lot of the great ones lately.