Nicolas Freeling was born F. R. E. Nicolas in Gray’s Inn Road, London, on March 3, 1927. He was educated in England and France, and he attended the University of Dublin. He served in the Royal Air Force from 1945 to 1947. After leaving the military, he spent more than a decade as a professional cook in European hotels and restaurants. In 1954, he married Cornelia Termes; they had four sons and a daughter. Freeling lived all of his adult life on the Continent.
Freeling’s first mystery, Love in Amsterdam (1962), began the Van der Valk series. In it, a central character is jailed for several weeks for a murder he did not commit. The novel may partly have been inspired by Freeling’s experience of having been wrongly accused of theft. The work marked the beginning of a prolific career in which Freeling published a novel almost every year. Gun Before Butter (1963) won Le Grand Prix de Roman Policier in 1965. The King of the Rainy Country (1966) won the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Allan Poe Award for 1967. Freeling died in France in 2003.