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Desmond Bagley Books In Order

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Publication Order of Slade Books

Running Blind (1970)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Freedom Trap (1971)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Max Stafford Books

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Publication Order of Bill Kemp Books

Domino Island (With: Michael Davies) (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Outback (By: Michael Davies) (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon
Thin Ice (By: Michael Davies) (2024)Description / Buy at Amazon

Desmond Bagley was a British journalist and a best-selling novelist in the crime thriller genre. He was born on October 29th, 1923 to Hannah and John Bagley. His father was a coal miner in Lancashire and was a keen lover of music while his mother was a stern and strong-willed.

He spent his childhood life in Lake District. He educated in state school districts however he faced stigma and discrimination due to his speech impediment nature. However, a strong bond with one of the school teacher helps him to rekindle his interest in mathematics which he performed excellently.

Throughout his entire childhood, the world was in turbulence, the Great Depression had just begun in the United States in 1929 with Stock Market Crash, and in the United Kingdom, and National Hunger Marches was the order of the day. Things took the turn for the worst when he was only 11years his father received early retirement due to health complications. His family later moved to Blackpool to start a theatrical boarding house.

As a result of his family relocation to Blackpool, he found himself with memorable long summer vacation. It is during this period that he found great enjoyment of reading books on Blackpool’s pleasure beach which he acquired from his new home public library.

Desmond Bagley left school with no formal qualifications and started working as an errand boy also known as Printers Devil when he was only 14years of age. However, he did not enjoy his newly found job. Thus he spends some of his free time with other several occupations, such as servicing vending machines.

When the war broke out and the factory he used to work for turned over to making war weaponry, he became a foreman. Despite the war, the family tensions also become unbearable when Bagley newborn brother was found to suffer from autism, and during the end of the war, he migrated to South Africa at the age of 23 in 1947.

Throughout his journey from snowy England to the infernos of Sahara Desert, through East Africa and finally in South Africa, he never settled for a particular job for long due to his speech impediment. Fortunately, freelance work was fruitful and capable of sustaining him. Desmond Bagley moved to Durban, after an unsuccessful performance in a course designed to help him alleviate his problem. In Durban, he met a friend, a hypnotist who told him the techniques that were helpful in easing his speech problem and enabling him to gain self-confidence. While writing for the local newspapers and magazines, he also worked for the asbestos and gold mining industries in both Durban and Natal.

In 1957, he wrote his first short story called My Old Man’s Trumpet that was later published in the UK in the Argosy Magazine. In 1959, while at a party in Johannesburg, he met the loved of his love, Joan Brown, (director of a leading local bookstore) and married her a year later.

On 12th April 1983, Desmond Bagley was pronounced death at Southampton hospital just eight days after he had suffered a stroke.


Mr. Bagley is famously known for his publication of thriller novels. During his time he published a total of 16 thrillers, and most of them made it to the best sellers list. Several of his books were written in the first narrative. Some such as Running Blind, Vivero Letter, The Enemy, The Freedom Trap, and Landslide were adapted into films.


The Golden Keel- this is the debut novel by Desmond Bagley first published in 1963 and written in the first person narrative. The biography of the main character in the book closely resembles that of the author.

The main character in the book is known as Peter Halloran, an immigrant to South Africa soon after the end of the World War II. Peter is an established and a successful designer, and builder of small watercrafts and yatch. Peter life is good- his business is successful, while his family-wife and a daughter are both beautiful. One day, he meets an alcoholic ex-soldier Walker who narrates to him a story of a hidden treasure. Walker describes to Peter that when he was a Prisoner of War (POW) in Italy, he managed to escape with some of the inmates including an Afrikaner named Coertze. Walker and his group waged guerilla campaigns against the Nazis and towards the end of the war, they managed to ambush a truck convoy which contained gold, jewels treasures including the state crown of Ethiopia. Rather than turning this precious treasure to the authorities they hid it in some abandoned mine, and now the war is over, they must find a way to smuggle it past the Italian customs.

Peter Halloran is hesitant about the idea, until some years later when his wife is killed in a road accident that he decides to make some adjustments to his life. In search of Walker, he meets up with Coertze and the three men agrees to partner up with efforts to recover the treasure. However, Peter has doubts as to why the two men- Coertze and Walker are the only survivors of the group, and why Walker is so afraid of Cortez. The mystery deepens when the trio find out that they are not the only ones after the treasure. This idea of the novel was inspired by the Smuggling of Norwegian Gold Reserves from Norway during the World War 2.

The high citadel- The story is based on the South American Coup-d’état. The main protagonist are aboard a hijacked plane that crashes in the freezing temperatures of Andes. The crashing is not just bad luck but also an attempt to assassinate a paramount political figure. Tim O’Hara, the pilot of the crashed plane, is the main character in this story as he leads his passengers to survive the biting colds of the plateau in the Andes.

O’Hara attempts to guide the survivor through the deadly peaks and snow-covered pathways while another passenger works his way to stall the armed communist soldiers plotting to kill all the passengers. Luckily, the soldier’s plan is not easy, and the passengers and O’Hara buy some time to put some original ideas into place to help them survive both the harsh climate and the killer soldiers as they wait for help to arrive.

The author clearly describe each event clearly, and the character are explained on both sides, the level o tension that builds throughout the entire story ensures that the reader is fully engaged throughout.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Desmond Bagley

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