Wow, who knew? I found my initial Alistair MacLean books back in the old Community Library, a volunteer and donation operation that operated out of a strip mall in High Ridge until it got its own tax levy and became the Northwest Jefferson County Library or whatever. It was more homey and plucky before it became a government-funded bureaucracy, something shared between those of us who enjoyed books before it became a burden to the taxpayers who didn’t. In the intervening years, my appreciation for Alistair MacLean has waned somewhat, too.
MacLean’s books about World War II and the early cold war period are enjoyable because they’re slightly exotic in tone and style as they are intricate in plot. MacLean, of course, was British, so his heroes are often British with their stiff upper lips mimicked in his slightly stuffy and distant prose. But more contemporary works (The Golden Gate and Floodgate come to mind) don’t work for me because they’re contemporary–in those decades I can somewhat remember.
This book deals with an American bomber carrying nukes that crashes into the Mediterranean. A British frigate investigates and finds a Greek shipping maganate who might have caused the sabotuage of the bomber so he could recover the nukes. The British naval officers on the frigate must outwit the mastermind and handle the armed and dangerous nuclear weapons at the same time.
250 pages, roughly, so it’s a quick read. Paragraph-based dialog makes it easy to skim, and the action does move along quickly, but the characters are pretty superficial and the book lacks the twists that characterize the best of MacLean’s plot-driven work.
But I bought it for a quarter, so it’s worth my time and money at that.