Writer of popular thrillers Rodney Trevanian dead at 74

Novelist Rodney Whitaker, who wrote popular thrillers under the pen name Trevanian, has died, his literary agent said Tuesday. He was 74. Whitaker died Dec. 14 in western England of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and was buried the next day, his agent Michael V. Carlisle said. He did not disclose the exact location, in keeping with the family's wishes.

Whitaker's best-known book was "The Eiger Sanction," an Alpine tale of spies and assassins that became a 1975 film starring Clint Eastwood. He wrote in a wide variety of styles, under his own name and a clutch of pseudonyms that included Nicholas Seare, author of the Arthurian saga "Rude Tales and Glorious", and Benat LeCagot.

But he is best known for the stylish Trevanian thrillers, including Eiger sequel "The Loo Sanction," the Montreal-set mystery "The Main" and the multimillion-selling "Shibumi." His last book, the semi-autobiographical "Crazyladies of Pearl Street," was published earlier this year. Carlisle said Whitaker had left a large amount of material that would be published posthumously.

Whitaker was raised in Albany, New York, served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, earned a doctorate from Northwestern University and became chairman of the radio, television and film department at the University of Texas before turning to writing professionally. In recent years, he divided his time between homes in the Basque region of France and England's West Country. Carlisle said he was a private, "deeply moral man."

"He was very upset at the extreme capitalism of the United States, and that is reflected in his work," Carlisle said. Whitaker is survived by his wife, Diane Brandon, sons Lance and Christian and daughters Alexandra and Tomasin, reports the AP. N.U.

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