A British Canadian realist novelist, he is known for setting each work within a particular industry (i.e., banking, the airline business, etc.). His best-known works include In High Places, Airport, and The Moneychangers.
He served in the Royal Air Force during World War II. He published his first work, Runway Zero-Eight, in 1958.
He moved to the Bahamas to avoid Canadian and U.S. income taxes.
His wife, Sheila, published a 1978 memoir, I Married a Best-Seller, that detailed their marriage. He died at the age of eighty-four and was survived by his wife, children and grandchildren.
He was a neighbor of the famous actor Sean Connery.