Athabasca
Athabasca
Athabasca
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Price: $4.84 FREE for Members
Type: eBook
Publisher: Harpercollins Publishers Limited
Format: epub
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0449244296
User Rating: 1.6667 out of 5 Stars! (3 Votes)

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Alistair Maclean download


'Alistair MacLean is a magnificent storyteller' Sunday Mirror 'The most successful British novelist of his time' Jack Higgins 'Alistair MacLean is brilliant at building up the tension' Sunday Mirror --This text refers to the edition. Alistair MacLean, the son of a Scots minister, was brought up in the Scottish Highlands. In 1941 he joined the Royal Navy. After the war he read English at Glasgow University and became a schoolmaster. The two and a half years he spent aboard a wartime cruiser were to give him the background for HMS Ulysses, his remarkably successful first novel, published in 1955. He is now recognized as one of the outstanding popular writers of the 20th century, the author of 29 worldwide bestsellers, many of which have been filmed.

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| 1 out of 5 Stars!


The moment I realized "Athabasca" had to be one of the worst suspense books I ever read came when one of the heroes found himself chained to a steel ring set in concrete while a "dragline," in essence a giant tractor, is set in motion to run over him, very slowly.

"Goodbye, Mr. Dermott," says a bad guy before leaving. "You have two minutes to live."

What follows is one of the slowest performances of the adventure yarn's oldest cliché, the rescue of the damsel from the railroad tracks, except here the damsel is doing the rescuing. For all its faults, this is "Athabasca's" one moment of genuine action, even if it moves like molasses.

"Athabasca" is a sad, dispirited-feeling book from an author who did much better work. As Joseph Shembrie noted here, Alistair Maclean had his battle with the bottle, and it's no trick guessing which was winning when he wrote this. The heroes avail themselves of alcohol at every spare moment, retiring for some belts of whiskey, even daiquiris at times, when they could instead be acting on one of the many hunches they get about who is sabotaging oil-processing facilities in Alaska and Alberta, a plot they have been hired to foil. The drinking here is as copious (if not as entertaining) as "Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?", yet Maclean treats this as if it were not only natural but edifying behavior.

The jocundity of this besotted band is a little tough to take as the bodies start dropping. After meeting one character, the leader of this band, Jim Brady, observes "Pity he acts so suspiciously - otherwise he'd have made a splendid suspect."

This casual air taken by the heroes to their work might be even more frustrating if the story was easier to follow. But you never really cotton to what's going on. You have two plots set in motion at two very different oil facilities run by two different entities, apparently for extortion purposes, yet until the last 60 pages there are no demands made. The bad guys instead kill people and blow things up to make the point they are serious. We know the same people are responsible in both cases, but why do they spread themselves so thin by covering such a large section of the icy North American outback? And why do they persist in their destruction for so long before asking for money?

Several times the author seems to lose track of his plot. At one point, much attention is given to the broken finger suffered by one of the novel's four corpses (all the killing takes place off-screen, as it were; the narrative consists largely of wooden dialogue.) Yet the explanation for the injury, when given, makes no sense. Also stretching it are two breaks in the case, one when a woman is dropped 100 feet from a helicopter and just happens to land on a snow drift, and another where a hostage passes on some vital information. Brady breaks the case by letting himself be captured so the bad guys in their mistaken smugness will spill their story.

Keeping track of all the interchangeable minor characters presented as suspects is not only impossible but pointless. The heroes don't act on their suspicions about which are the criminals as it would interfere with their drinking time, and when the evil gang is at last revealed, the big "A-ha" moment is considerably dampened by the fact they are mostly either obscure or unknown to the story as told to that point.

In essence, "Athabasca" is as torpid and unwieldy as that menacing dragline, and a poor representation of Maclean as one of the great adventure writers of his day.

| 1 out of 5 Stars!


Maclean lost his battle with alcoholism later in life, and it adversely affected his output. His novels became shorter and their characterization flatter, and in Athabasca, he presents one character's alcoholism in virtually a positive light. The plot of this story is forgettable too and there's only about ten pages near the end where 'master of suspense' can be applied to the writing. A sad decline for someone who was the Tom Clancy of his day and is virtually forgotten barely fifteen years after his death. As for this book, read Ice Station Zebra if you want to play in the snow!

| 3 out of 5 Stars!


Not much to say about this book. It was very average, and left me feeling like I could have better spent my time re-reading "Ice Station Zebra" or "Where Eagles Dare" if I really wanted to read Alistair MacLean. The book is out of print currently; don't bother going to too much trouble to find it.

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