I've had a few friends-list additions (Yay!) since I last wrote about Alistair MacLean, one of my Favorite Authors Evah. To sum up, since explaining would take too long, he wrote action/adventure/spy novels from the 1950s to the 1980s. They particularly appeal to me because they (1) are really exciting, (2) are complexly and carefully plotted, (3) have really good characters, (4) are written with exquisite and delightful language and wording, (5) have no more profanity than would be found in a typical 1930's mystery, and (6) have the perfect touch of romance while lacking any sexual language, double entendres, or escapades whatsoever.
The primary drawback to MacLean's writing is that reasons (1)-(4) are not consistent throughout his books. He became an alcoholic, and I understand that's the primary reason why his writing declined so strikingly. I am a compulsive, extremely fast reader of fiction, but my experiences with his work range from I'm-staying-up-til-4-to-finish to I'm-finally-finished-and-I-can't-
remember-what-happened. It's really sad. Thankfully, the good stuff outweighs the bad, and even his "bad" is bad only in comparison.
Below I freely adapt text and lists from Wikipedia, where I learned just why my reader experiences varied so widely when I was first trying to find his stuff. (I don't think it's in print - go for used paperbacks and the library.) The breakdown into periods and styles are generalizations, but reasonably accurate and fairly useful. The links are to my reviews. I have read all the ones in bold.
Now that I've set the stage, here are two more reviews. Bro. No. 1 gave me a gift certificate to the used book store for Christmas, so a couple weeks ago I went on a spree and got about a dozen books. Among them were When Eight Bells Toll
and Puppet on a Chain