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Lyall, Gavin

maxim former dialogue major

(British, 1932– )

A former RAF pilot and journalist on aviation matters, Lyall began his fiction-writing career with adventure-thrillers, drawing extensively on his flying experience and characterized by sharp, wisecracking dialogue, dramatic set pieces, and a wide range of exotic locales, from Arctic Finland to tropical Jamaica. The Most Dangerous Game (1964) and Judas Country (1975) are among the best of these. The creation of Major Harry Maxim, former SAS man transformed into Whitehall trouble-shooter, signalled a change in direction. Begin with The Secret Servant (1980), where Lyall's gift for dialogue finally finds a marriage with tight and cohesive plotting to produce a taut thriller. Continue with The Conduct of Major Maxim (1982), where Maxim investigates a murder in a German garrison town, and The Crocus List (1985), probably the best of the Maxim books, which begins with an assassination attempt on the American president in London.

Dick Francis, Len Deighton, John Le Carré  VM

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