Gavin Lyall was born in Birmingham, England in 1932 and was educated at King Edward’s School. After completing his compulsory two years of National Service he studied English at Pembroke College, Cambridge, graduating with honours.
Lyall worked briefly as a reporter for the Birmingham Gazette, Picture Post and Sunday Graphic newspapers and then as a film director for the BBC’s Tonight programme. He married author Katherine Whitehorn in 1958.
His first novel, The Wrong Side of the Sky, was published in 1961 to immediate success. Lyall’s first seven novels were all action thrillers set in various international locations. In 1964 and 65, Lyall won the British Crime Writers’ Association’s Silver Dagger award, and he became chairman in 1966.
Though he was not a prolific writer, attributing his slow pace to an obsession with technical accuracy, he published seventeen novels over a forty-year career span and mastered the genre of the espionage thriller.