Diehl was fifty years old and already a successful photographer and journalist when he decided to begin a writing career. His first novel, Sharky's Machine, was made into a movie of the same name directed by and starring Burt Reynolds. Diehl saw the movie shot on location in and around his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. Its cast included Vittorio Gassman, Brian Keith, Charles Durning, Earl Holliman, Rachel Ward, Bernie Casey, Henry Silva, and Richard Libertini. It has been the most successful box-office release of a film directed by Reynolds.
Following the success of Sharky's Machine, Diehl relocated to St. Simons Island, Georgia in the early 1980s where he lived for the next 15 years before going back to the Atlanta area. While living on St. Simons, he completed eight more novels, including Primal Fear, which also became a movie by the same name starring Richard Gere and Edward Norton.
Diehl died at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta on November 24, 2006, of an aortic aneurism. He was a resident of Woodstock, Georgia at the time of his death and was working on his tenth novel. He had two children, a boy and a girl from whom he was estranged.
- Sharky's Machine (1978)
- Chameleon (1981)
- Hooligans (1984)
- Thai Horse (1987)
- The Hunt (1990)
- Primal Fear (1992)†
- Show of Evil (1995)†
- Reign in Hell (1997)†
- Eureka (2002)
- Seven Ways to Die (2012) with Kenneth John Atchity
- †Primal Fear, Show of Evil and Reign in Hell are all part of the Martin Vail series featuring the character Aaron Stampler.
- AP via Yahoo!, 'Primal Fear' author Diehl dies at 81 , 26 November 2006
- William Diehl at Imdb links to info on films based on Diehl's novels
- Stevenson, Luanne (2012-04-23) Book Review: Seven Ways To Die by William Diehl with Kenneth John Atchity. Retrieved on 2012-10-10.
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