Jack Higgins: Thriller writer, best known for The Eagle Has Landed, dies aged 92

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The best-selling author Jack Higgins has died aged 92, his publisher has confirmed.

Higgins, whose real name was Henry Patterson, died at home in Jersey surrounded by his family, HarperCollins said in a statement.

The author, who wrote under his pseudonym, published 85 books in his lifetime and was best known for his 1975 novel The Eagle Has Landed, which sold more than 50 million copies.

The book told the story of a fictional Nazi plot to kidnap Sir Winston Churchill during the Second World War.

In 1976, the novel was turned into a film starring Sir Michael Caine, Robert Duvall and Donald Sutherland.

Other popular books he wrote include Comes the Dark Stranger, Hell is Too Crowded and To Catch a King.

Patterson's last book, The Midnight Bell, was published in 2017 and became a Sunday Times bestseller.

Born in Newcastle in 1929 to an English father and Northern Irish mother, he was brought up in Belfast, before returning to England to live in Leeds.

After two years of National Service, he qualified as a teacher, writing on the side to earn some extra money.

HarperCollins said that by the time his final novel came out, they referred to him simply as "The Legend".

In a statement, chief executive Charlie Redmayne said Patterson was a "classic thriller writer".

"I've been a fan of Jack Higgins for longer than I can remember. He was a classic thriller writer: instinctive, tough, relentless," he said.

"The Eagle Has Landed and his other Liam Devlin books, his later Sean Dillon series, and so many others were and remain absolutely unputdownable.

"Being part of his publishing for even part of his career has been a privilege - his passing marks the end of an era."

He is survived by four children from his first marriage - Sarah, Ruth, Sean, and Hannah - and his wife, Denise.

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