By Iwan Morelius

   As long back as I started to collect books I had as a habit to write to those authors I liked very much. After a while they were many of them and among the earlier ones was Colin Forbes , well known thriller writer from England. The first thriller by him was in fact Avalanche Express, which turned out to be a smashing movie some years later.

   Colin was kind enough to answer my letters and we were pen friends for many years before he wrote me a letter telling me he was going to visit Sweden ( Stockholm) in order to make research for his next thriller. Wow, how exciting! Hopefully I should meet him in person. Of course! Colin asked me if I wanted to help him with his research. To that it was only one answer – YES!


   Colin and his wife, Jane, should come for one week in June 1978 and we met the first day he was in Stockholm at his Swedish Publisher’s office. The Publisher invited us for a lunch and there were Colin, Jane and the publisher Bertil Käll and me, a captain in the Swedish Army. We had a nice – and very good tasting – typical Swedish lunch together and during it Colin informed me what he wanted for the research.

   The next morning I met Colin outside his hotel, Grand Hotel, in Stockholm and we started to have a typical Swedish breakfast. Then we started by car to my hometown Strängnäs, situated 70 km west of Stockholm. During the drive Colin gave me more details about the book and what help he wanted from me. First of all he wanted two things:

1.    First an exciting place where his hero should be involved in a fight and nearly killed
2.    The second thing he wanted to see was a typical Swedish forest with giant trees. He had heard we had trees being as high as 30 meters.

   I suggested a place, which I had visited many times and found very, very exciting. It was situated in the middle of a forest and had once been used for mining. Still there were many deep (I mean really deep) holes and the fence was gone many years ago. Some people used the holes to put their old cars in). Colin inspected the place carefully and he was very satisfied with the place I had chosen.

               Outside the Mälsåker’s Castle.

            Colin and I deep in the cellar vaults.

   On our way to my home we took a little extra driving and found a place with the kind of trees he wanted (so far I didn’t know why he wanted to find them). Colin was very satisfied with his first day on his research. We drove to my home and had some tea and Colin inspected my library and he was especially satisfied with my collection of signed books by so many famous authors. At that time I had around 15,000 mystery books (Mystery/Thrillers and Science Fiction plus non-fiction in the genre).

   We offered Colin and Jane to stay over night but they refused. Colin wanted to work on his book and wanted to be in his hotel then, which I respected of course. So I drove them back to Stockholm and their hotel.

   Before I left Colin asked me if I knew someone who knew Stockholm on his five fingers, as we say in Sweden. Of course I did and I phoned my old friend Henry Augustsson, a goldsmith in Stockholm, who was more than happy to be of help. He was also a keen book collector.

   Next day we were outside the hotel very early and our first goal was the Russian Embassy, situated in the middle of Stockholm. I parked my car (a Volvo Station wagon) outside the Embassy and took out a big (large?) map and put it on the car. It took only two minutes and a special guard, not from the Embassy, but from a Swedish guard company who have guards outside every embassy in Stockholm. The guard told us to leave at once but we told him we would not.

Henry and Colin outside the embassy.

   This is a common place where everyone who wanted it could stay or park his car. So we continued to study our map over Stockholm and make some notes and drawings when the guard disappeared. Henry, who knew what he was doing, told us he phoned the Swedish police. Before the police arrived we took our photos and waved goodbye to the guard – the “Dummy”, we called him.

   Our next stop was Djurgården (Animal garden, roughly translated), one of the most beautiful places in Stockholm with water, open places, parks and paths for walking etc. Colin wanted to find a luxury yacht for his book. And that was very easy to find here where the rich people in Stockholm had their yachts and big motorboats.

   Next stop was Kaknäs tower, a tower from where you could view the whole of Stockholm. I think it is around 60 meters height and on top there is a restaurant. Colin invited Henry and me for lunch. From the top we could see the Värta Harbour, from where the ferries to Finland go and were also most of the oils are placed. Colin asked Henry if it was possible for a big Russian fright boat to anchor there. The answer to that was YES and Colin was satisfied again.

   Next goal was Stockholm’s The Old Town (Gamla Stan) where he could look at all those very old houses, walk in the narrow streets and also have a look inside the yards of the houses. We talked to some people who lived there and they showed Colin the use of the key locks (the coded ones). He liked that and told us it should be in the book.

   Colin was very satisfied with his day and asked us if we would like to join him and Jane for dinner at Grand Hotel’s French Veranda (a glassed veranda), from where we could have a nice look over The Strömen (the water between Grand and the Royal Castle). Another YES, of course!

   This was Colin’s first visit to Stockholm, but not his last and later on I was to be invited to their home in England (Woking, Surrey).



BIBLIOGRAPHY: Expanded from Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin:

; pseudonym of Raymond H. Sawkins, (1923-2006); other pseudonyms Jay Bernard & Richard Raine (books)

* -The Heights of Zervos (n.) Collins 1970 [Greece; 1941]
* The Palermo Ambush (n.) Collins 1972
* Target Five (n.) Collins 1973 [Arctic]
* Year of the Golden Ape (n.) Collins 1974 [San Francisco, CA; 1977]
* The Stone Leopard (n.) Collins 1975 [France]
* Avalanche Express (n.) Collins 1977 [Train]
* The Stockholm Syndicate (n.) Collins 1981
* Double Jeopardy (n.) Collins 1982 [Tweed; Vienna]
* The Leader and the Damned (n.) Collins 1983 [Germany; WWII]
* Terminal (n.) Collins 1984 [Tweed; Switzerland]
* Cover Story (n.) Collins 1985 [Tweed; Scandinavia]
* The Janus Man (n.) Collins 1987 [Tweed]
* Deadlock (n.) Collins 1988 [Tweed]
* The Greek Key (n.) Collins 1989 [Tweed; Greece]
* Shockwave (n.) Pan 1990 [Tweed]
* Whirlpool (n.) Pan 1991 [Tweed]
* Cross of Fire (n.) Pan 1992 [Tweed]
* By Stealth (n.) Pan 1993 [Tweed]
* The Power (n.) Pan 1994 [Tweed]
* Fury (n.) Macmillan 1995 [Tweed]
* The Precipice (n.) Macmillan 1996 [Tweed]
* The Cauldron (n.) Macmillan 1997 [Tweed]
* The Sisterhood (n.) Macmillan 1998 [Tweed]
* Sinister Tide (n.) Macmillan 1999 [Tweed]
* This United State (n.) Macmillan 1999 [Tweed]
* Rhinoceros (n.) Simon & Schuster, 2001 [Tweed]
* The Vorpal Blade (n.) Simon & Schuster, 2002 [Tweed]
* The Cell (n.) Simon & Schuster, 2002 [Tweed]
* No Mercy (n.) Simon & Schuster, 2003 [Tweed]
* Blood Storm (n.) Simon & Schuster, 2004 [Tweed]
* The Main Chance (n.) Simon & Schuster, 2005 [Tweed]
* The Savage Gorge (n.) Simon & Schuster, 2006 [Tweed] Published posthumously.

Note: Tweed is Deputy Director of the SIS, the British Secret Intelligence Service.

SAWKINS, RAYMOND H(arold); see pseudonyms Jay Bernard, Colin Forbes & Richard Raine.

* Snow on High Ground (n.) Heinemann 1966 [Supt. John Snow; England]
* Snow in Paradise (n.) Heinemann 1967 [Supt. John Snow; Italy]
* Snow Along the Border (n.) Heinemann 1968 [Supt. John Snow; England]

BERNARD, JAY; pseudonym of Raymond H. Sawkins; other pseudonyms Colin Forbes & Richard Raine

* The Burning Fuse (n.) Harcourt, US, 1970 [Germany]

RAINE, RICHARD; pseudonym of Raymond H. Sawkins; other pseudonyms Jay Bernard & Colin Forbes

* A Wreath for America (n.) Heinemann 1967 [David Martini; England]
* Night of the Hawk (n.) Heinemann 1968 [David Martini; England]
* Bombshell (n.) Dent 1970 [David Martini; Switzerland]