I refrained from posting this yesterday, in case it would be considered a particularly cruel April Fool’s joke if we were wrong. I also waited until we had obtained as much information as we could about what we have discovered, we being Al Hubin, Marv Lachman, Victor Berch and myself.

   First came an email from Al:

   Although I don’t recall any word about Donald Hamilton’s passing, it certainly appears that he has. Contemporary Authors gives his birth date as 3/24/1916, and there’s a Donald B. Hamilton in the Social Security death benefit records with this birth date who died 11/20/2006 in Ipswich, MA.

   From Marv Lachman:

   I think I can confirm that it was THE Donald (Bengtsson) Hamilton who died. He formerly lived in Santa Fe and was listed in our phone book as Donald B. Hamilton, though no street address was given. I checked our phone book today and there is [only] a Donald R. Hamilton, with a street address. I then spoke to someone at the library who knew him, and she says that he moved “back east.” That would account for his death in Ipswich, Mass.

   From Victor Berch:

   There was no obituary for Donald Hamilton in the Boston papers. There was even no death notice. This can happen since someone has to pay in order for a death notice to be inserted in the newspapers. If Hamilton was in a nursing home at the time or a hospital, neither institution would pay for such a notice.
   At any rate, I did find some information about Donald Hamilton. He was born in Upsala, Sweden. Came to the US aboard the SS Droltingholm on the 6th of October in 1924. He was the son of Bengt and Elise Hamilton. His father was a doctor and at that particular time was associated with the Childrens’ Hospital in Boston. He was also a professor at Harvard (probably Harvard Medical School). By 1930, the family had moved to Baltimore, MD.
   That’s about all I could dig up on his early years.

   From Al Hubin:

   I think it must be “our” Donald Hamilton, though it is surprising his passing went unnoticed for so long.

   So here is where we stand. You now know as much as we do. Obviously there are many questions as yet unanswered. Victor also suggested getting the death certificate of the Donald Hamilton who died, but at this point in time we have not done so.

   For a long retrospective look by John Fraser into the mystery and espionage fiction of Donald B. Hamilton, best known as the creator of secret agent Matt Helm, go to http://www.mysteryfile.com/Hamilton/Hamilton.html.

   Highly recommended also is a followup piece that Doug Bassett did for Mystery*File, a nicely done in-depth comparison of Matt Helm with Travis McGee, the colorful series character created by John D. MacDonald.

Night Walker
      Cover art by Tim Gabor.

[UPDATE] Early this afternoon Charles Ardai confirmed the death of Donald Hamilton. Charles is the man behind Hard Case Crime, who reprinted Hamilton’s Night Walker in January 2006. […] Charles has now left a comment to this effect. In a separate email to me he added, “We are very proud to have worked with Don and to have published one of his books. He was one of the giants, and he’ll be missed.”