Paul Erdman, 74, an economist and banker known for his best-selling novels of suspense and intrigue in the world of high finance, has died.

Mr. Erdman, who also wrote Internet and newspaper columns and several works of nonfiction, died Monday at his Sonoma County, Calif., ranch after a long illness, according to his family.

Known as a pioneer of the financial thriller, he performed the unlikely feat of turning obscure economic concepts into exciting and accessible fiction.

His 1973 debut novel, The Billion Dollar Sure Thing, won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. His next book, The Silver Bears, was turned into a 1978 movie of the same name starring Michael Caine and Jay Leno.

His books have been translated into 32 languages and spent a combined 152 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. His last novel, The Great Game, is to be published this year.

Mr. Erdman was born in Ontario in 1932. He graduated from Georgetown's foreign service school and earned a doctorate in economics with the highest honors from the University of Basel in Switzerland. - AP