French Spy Novelist Gerard De Villiers Dies at 83

He was known as the French answer to James Bond

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This post was updated at 4:16 p.m. on Nov. 1 

Gerard De Villier, the spy novelist who was known as France’s answer to James Bond, died on Thursday in Paris. He was 83, and his lawyer said he was suffering from a “long illness.”

De Villiers wrote 200 books in the Son Altesse Sérénissime, (His Serene Highness) series of spy novels about an Austrian prince who works as a CIA agent, according to MSN. His work was  praised for including insider information he gathered from journalists, diplomats, and officials. His June 2012 novel Le Chemin de Damas detailed the inner-workings of the Assad regime in Syria.

De Villiers died largely unknown in the U.S., but more than 100 million copies of the series have been sold globally, making it one of the top-selling series in history, De Villiers’ latest book, SAS: The Kremlin Revenge, was released last month.

Update: Russell Perreault, the director of publicity for Vintage Books told TIME via email that beginning in 2014, de Villiers novels will be available via the publishing imprint of Random House Books in the U.S. and Canada. According to Perreault, this will mark the first major launch of his fiction in English in North America. An official announcement will be made in a few weeks.