20 March 2017

Gordon Thomas (1933–2017)

Based for many years in County Wicklow in Ireland, the Welsh writer Gordon Thomas (1933–2017) was best known as an investigative journalist and prolific author on secret intelligence topics. He also wrote five thrillers featuring Mossad secret agent David Morton.

The series begins with Godless Icon (1992):

The fate of the free world is in the hands of David Morton as he tries to douse the terrorist flames sparked around the world by madman terrorist Khalil Raza, who is demanding complete control of Middle Eastern oil fields and the total destruction of the Israeli state.

Raza's weapon (the deadly perfume) is Anthrax-B-C, a Chinese-designed pathogen that can wipe out entire cities within hours of it going into the water supply. 

It was followed in the series by Deadly Perfume (1992), Voices in the Silence (1994), Organ Hunters (1995) and Poisoned Sky (1996).

In all he wrote or co-authored more than 50 books, ranging from The Pope's Jews to Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad, best-sellers about the Vatican and Israel's secret service respectively. He turned his work about Mossad into a major documentary for Channel Four called The Spy Machine, which he wrote and narrated.

Several of his books including Voyage of the Damned, Enola Gay and The Day the Bubble Burst were also turned into feature films starring the likes of Paul Newman, Billy Crystal, Jacqueline Bisset and Robert Vaughn.

He was born in Carmarthen in Wales in 1933, in a cemetery keeper's cottage where his grandmother lived. His father was in the RAF, and the family moved around the Middle East and Africa until Gordon was 14, attending school and learning Arabic in Cairo.

On the family's return to England, he was sent to public school. The poet Dylan Thomas - a cousin - helped Gordon to get his first book published while he was still in his teens. This in turn let to a job at the Daily Express. During his time at the newspaper he also co-wrote war fiction including Torpedo Run (1958) and The Camp on Blood Island (1958), written in 10 days as a movie tie-in.

His journalistic career also included a stint at the BBC as a writer/producer for the programmes Man Alive, Tomorrow's World and Horizon.

When Ireland introduced the artists' tax exemption in 1969, Thomas was the first best-selling author to move to Ireland to avoid the UK's higher taxes. The scheme was introduced by Charles Haughey to support local talent and attract artists from abroad to settle in Ireland. In more recent years income limits have been introduced for the exemptions.

At first Thomas and his family lived at The Old Rectory in Ashford, County Wicklow. In these early years in Ireland, he wrote extensively for the Sunday Press. The family later moved to Delgany, then to England to live near Bath.

For the last three years of his life he was working with fellow Welshman Greg Lewis on their final  book together, Shadow Warriors of World War Two.