Tuesday, October 01, 2013

A MacLean Sweep

Once-bestselling author Alistair MacLean is the subject of my column this week for the Kirkus Reviews Web site. As I explain,
At the height of his renown, back in the late 1960s and early ’70s, Scottish adventure-thriller writer Alistair MacLean rivaled even Agatha Christie as a best-seller. I’ve seen it reported that by 1978, 21 million paperback copies of his books had been published, and by 1983, at least 16 of his works had sold upward of a million copies apiece. The scribblers of promotional blurbs were shameless in linking MacLean’s name to new fiction by other, lesser writers, and Hollywood couldn’t seem to capitalize fast enough on his popularity; more than a dozen motion pictures were adapted from MacLean’s yarns, including The Guns of Navarone (featuring Gregory Peck), Ice Station Zebra (with Rock Hudson), Where Eagles Dare (with Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood) and Breakheart Pass (starring Charles Bronson).

Not bad for a guy whose debut novel was excoriated as “drivelling melodrama” by one of Scotland’s top-selling newspapers, the
Daily Record.
You can find the full piece here. It’s a good one, I think, and well worth your time reading. Perhaps it will also stir some new interest in MacLean’s more than two dozen novels.

And click here to participate in The Rap Sheet’s poll asking readers to name their favorite works among MacLean’s classic oeuvre. If you have not already made your voice heard in this survey, you have until the beginning of November to do so.

UPDATE: Not being content merely to compose a lengthy column about MacLean’s contributions to contemporary thriller fiction, I’ve now posted dozens of fronts from his 28 novels in my other crime-fiction blog, Killer Covers. Check ’em out!

4 comments:

Bill Crider said...

Fine article. I agree 100% that MacLean deserves to be read now, and I've done a couple of posts about his books on my blog. Even reading them again after all these years, I still get a kick out of the twists that I know are coming.

Bob The Wordless said...

Where Eagles Dare is one great film, and I didn't realize until I watched it (again) on TCM, that it was an original screenplay by MacLean.
Guns From Navarone was one of my favorites.

Craig said...

Thanks for writing these pieces about MacLean. He was a favorite of mine way back when, and I recently persuaded my teenager to give "Breakheart Pass" a try. He said he liked it, so I may pick a few more to pass along. Gee, maybe I should re-read a few just to make sure I direct him to the very best one...

Bob said...

Thanks for the articles on MacLean. I always remember reading and enjoying the books by MacLean and Helen MacInnes in my youth. Recently, I've gone back and reread some of the Maclean novels.(those paperback editions always had those great covers.)

And what better way to pass a fall rainy afternoon, then to watch The Guns of Navarone or Where Eagles Dare.