Wilbur Smith Obituary

Global best-selling author and renowned thrill seeker Wilbur Smith has died at his home in South Africa at the age of 88 on the 13th November 2021.

Born in Zambia, the writer was an adventurer and seasoned international traveller who drew on his own experiences to create gripping tales of global misadventure and daring. His characters were strong and well-rounded, his settings always realistic and his plots gripping and tantalising.

Having grown up with a love of adventure and the great outdoors, Smith went on to become an internationally acclaimed author whose books are now translated into dozens of languages and were even made into blockbuster movies staring some of the world’s most renowned actors, including Roger Moore.

Over the years, as well as writing many bestselling novels, Smith went on to run a ranch, own an island in the Seychellesand more. He was an experienced outdoorsman who enjoyed big game hunting, scuba diving, travelling around the world and much more.

He was also a prolific reader and an experienced marksman who was passionate about gun and rifles. He drew on this knowledge when writing his many books and created realistic scenes in which his characters were backing into corners and had to use their wits and weapons to fight their way out. The writer also had a pilot’s licence and flew all over Africa and owned a number of boats, which he used to see more of the world and go on many adventures that would eventually help to inform his published work.

Despite considering a career in journalism, Smith ending up training as an accountant. In this boring job, he found plenty of time to write and started crafting unforgettable tales, which he later started publishing.

His first novel Where The Lion Feeds was so immensely successful when it came out in 1966 that he quickly followed it up with The Dark Of The Sun the next year.

Throughout the decades Smith’s work became even more popular with a wide range of readers, and he eventually started writing several series of books about revered families, including the Courtney family and the Ballantynes.

He also wrote a series of historical novels set in Ancient Egypt, that were set mostly in the time of the Pharaoh Memnon and addressed his reign through his eyes and those of one of his family’s slaves, Taita.

Many of his other books also covered historical periods of civil and military unrest, particularly in his home continent of Africa. While some critics have accused the writer of not researching thoroughly, many have deemed his portrayals to be as accurate as possible for historical works. They’re also deeply interesting and give a unique perspective on many periods of time and regions that weren’t extensively covered in popular fiction of the early 1960s and beyond.

In recent times, Smith worked on new novels and co-wrote them with many other popular writers, which created a unique view on his characters and the adventures in which they participated. He also wrote children’s stories in collaboration with Chris Wakling and autobiographical works that explored his upbringing in Africa and his adventures in some of the most beautiful and amazing parts of the world.

Outside of his work as a popular fiction writer, Smith had a large family, with whom he often had a tempestuous relationship, but undoubtably they and his many fans will miss his unique perspective on the world and his undeniably fascinating way of bringing even simple stories to life in amazing detail.

With a little under 50 books in his back catalogue, Smith has left behind an extensive legacy of incredible thrillers and action-packed adventure stories that will remain popular for many centuries. His work will, and undoubtably has already, influenced the way writers view mystery, thriller and adventure novels.

The Top Five Inspector Montalbano Books For Fans Of European Crime Fiction

The Inspector Montalbano TV series has become popular in the UK and around the world, but it differs greatly from the unique and pioneering series of books on which it is based.

Originally published in Italian, and now translated into many languages and popular around the world, Andrea Camilleri’s series about a police inspector with a unique combination of underworld connections and moral compass, is intriguing and unrivalled.

The series is still going to this very day, with the books spanning nearly 20 years, from the early 90s to the 2020s. As well as the nearly 30 full-length Inspector Montalbano novels, the author also wrote a selection of short stories, compiled into many collections.

Set in a fictional town on the Italian coast, called Vigata, the stories are famed for being violent and featuring some of the worst of human behaviour. From prostitutes to gangsters, thieves to kidnappers and beyond, almost every character in this series is up to no good in some form or another.

Montalbano’s world is one of vice and deception, but the man himself has an unwavering, if unusual, moral compass. He lives by his own code and has a set of rules that keep him grounded as he navigates the murky world underground world of crime in his beloved city.

Known for their dark humour and raw depiction of human life, the Inspector Montalbano novels paint a unique picture of life in Italy and the serious crimes committed in this beautiful and diverse country.

So, if you’re looking to explore the sleazy and devious world of Inspector Montalbano, then here are five books you should definitely check out.

5.The Sicilian Method: One of the newer books in the series, The Sicilian Method features two dead bodies that are considered to be connected. One is a body found by an absconding lover fleeing from his girlfriend’s husband when he spies a corpse in the flat below. The other is a vicious and cruel theatre director, who’s harsh methods of training actors could hold the key to his death. The Inspector finds numerous notebooks in the dead director’s home, including lists of everyone he’s ever worked with, his past plays and some strange notes featuring numbers, dates and names. Working back through a long list of wronged actors and trying to figure out what the notes mean leads the Inspector back to the theatre where the director worked, and where he is sure the truth behind his death lies.

4.The Other End Of The Line: Vigata is welcoming migrants to its shores in search of a better life, with Inspector Montalbano and his men working hard to support them and find the people traffickers responsible for the harsh conditions in which many of them had to travel. Then another crime occurs: this time, it’s the death of the town’s most revered dressmaker, who is brutally murdered with her own scissors. The Inspector and his mean are now dealing with organised crime on one hand and a seemingly unconnected and domestic murder on the other. As the title suggests, the Inspector comes to view each clue as part of a thread, but he soon comes to believe that they could be connected and that the person at the other end of the line is more powerful and dastardly than he ever expected.

3. The Treasure Hunt: After being reluctantly shoved into the spotlight by a pair of crazed lunatics wielding guns, Inspector Montalbano is targeted by an anonymous criminal who sends him on a treasure hunt with disastrous consequences. His obsession with uncovering who’s behind the scheme takes on toll on the Inspector’s personal and professional lives, and he finds himself faced with horrendous crimes that show that this more than a harmless game to the person who orchestrated it. From the personal nature of the hunt, it’s clear that the Inspector is in danger, but it soon becomes apparent just how much, and it quickly becomes clear that there’s more than his reputation as a detective at stake if he can’t uncover the mystery and find the culprit in time. This book features a twisted mystery and showcases the author’s mastery of the detective fiction format.

2. The Snack Thief: I’m not going to lie: I initially picked this novel up because of the title. I love a good snack, and I thought this would be a great read for me. I wasn’t wrong, although the novel is less about snacks than I would have liked. It features the death of a Tunisian sailor, the stabbing of a former merchant and the disappearance of a cleaning lady, who also happens to be from Tunisia. With so many crimes to deal with a suspects to handle, Montalbano and his men already have enough on their hands when they’re approached by a group of disgruntled mothers who are blaming the theft of snacks from their primary school aged kids on the new foreign boy, who happens to be Tunisian and linked to the disappeared cleaning lady. During all of this, the Inspector has to deal with a personal crisis which shows his emotional vulnerability. The novel is deeply human and speaks to a variety of emotions.

1. The Shape of Water: Yet again, I’ll recommend you start with the first book in the series. Not to be confused with the Guillermo del Toro film with the same name about a cleaner who becomes obsessed with a weird alien fish thing, this is a gripping thriller that sets the stage for this popular series. In the first book featuring the intrepid Italian sleuth, Andrea Camilleri’s police detective deals with the death of a semi-prominent member of the fictional town of Vigata. He dies during sex with his nephew and lover, who reaches out to a local attorney who was friends with his uncle. This man turns the tables and tries to use his knowledge of the death to his own political advantage. Using his connections in the murky underworld of the local sex trade, Inspector Montalbano uncovers the truth and plays God in this incredible, Golden-Age esq crime novel.