Alan Hunter created Chief Inspector George Gently, the stolid, pipe-smoking star of nearly 50 detective novels. He died on February 26, aged 82.
Most of Hunter’s novels were set in his native East Anglia and were inspired by local life and lore.
Hunter admired the writer Georges Simenon, and the character of Gently was sometimes likened to that of Inspector Maigret. Like the French detective, Gently solves his cases through a combination of reason, deduction and a world-weary understanding of his fellow man. But in fact, the character bore uncanny similarities to the author himself, who also smoked a pipe and had the same sort of pithy turn of phrase.
His first detective novel, Gently Does It, was published in 1955, and he continued to turn them out at an average rate of more than one a year. His last novel, his 48th, Over Here (one of a handful without the word Gently in the title), was published in 1998.
Hunter lived all his life in Norfolk, latterly in the village of Brundall. A keen local historian and amateur naturalist, he enjoyed sailing and having a pint with friends in the local pub. He disliked organised religion, describing himself, when asked, as a Zen Buddhist.
He married, in 1944 and is survived by his wife and daughter.