Monday, 9 November 2009

Men on a Mission

Many younger thriller readers may not be familiar with the work of Alistair MacLean, but many of us owe a huge debt to this tremendous Scottish writer for his wonderful novels and screenplays that hit the bestseller and box office charts in the 1970’s. Over the years I’ve interviewed many of today’s bestselling thriller writers such as Lee Child, Dennis Lehane, Robert Crais, Brett Battles and many others who all credit MacLean as a major influence on their desire to write thriller fiction.

Thanks to Harper Collins UK, much of his backlist which has been criminally out of print for over a decade, is back on the shelves.

The Bookseller reports even more are coming to our shelves –

HarperCollins will reissue a series of novels about an international crimefighting organisation by the author of Where Eagles Dare next spring.

Publication of the series by Alistair MacLean will complete HarperCollins’ repackaging of his backlist. The publisher has already reissued 29 MacLean novels, including The Guns of Navarone, and Ice Station Zebra.

Five titles will be reissued in paperback in March 2010, with the remaining five to follow in the autumn. The series was originally published in the 1980s and 90s and follows the United Nations Anti-Crime Organisation (Unaco), a team of crimefighters combating terrorism.

The first book, Hostage Tower, is about a criminal who kidnaps the mother of the US president and holds her to ransom on top of the Eiffel Tower. Tasked with rescuing her is Unaco, comprising a weapons expert, a cat burglar and a man blessed with extraordinary strength and cunning.

The series and the characters were created by MacLean but the books were developed and written by three authors: John Denis, Alistair MacNeil and Hugh Miller.
David Brawn, publishing director for estates, said: “Because of his [MacLean’s] film success, he was writing a lot of screenplays. It became much easier for him to write a film treatment and for other people to turn them into screenplays.”

Read more

Many people reported that MacLean’s later work became formulaic once he settled in Switzerland and his drinking habit took hold, but my word, what a formulae!
My personal favourites from his work include Breakheart Pass, Circus, Fear is the Key, Night Without End, Guns of Navarone and of course the deeply disturbing tale of interpol agents battling the Heroin trade in Amsterdam - Puppet on a Chain [pictured above in the original Pan Paperback Edition and the newly re-issued Harper Collins paperback]

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