Top 10 Books by Alistair MacLean

 

Alistair Stuart MacLean was a Scottish novel writer. Known for writing under the thriller genre, Alistair MacLean books are known for being gripping and stocked to the brim with adventure. He wrote two novels under the pseudonym ‘Ian Stuart.’

Alistair MacLean’s best sellers, Ice Station Zebra, The Guns of Navarone, and Where Eagles Dare have been made into popular movies.

 

HMS Ulysses

Centering in around HMS Ulysses, a cruiser, the story traces the journey of a crew that has just fought off mutiny to Murmansk. A line of taxing hardships awaits their voyage in this terrific portrayal of war. This was Alistair MacLean’s first book!

Read it For:
A chilling and realistic outlook on the aspects of war.
Don't Read it For:
A happy ending. War never has a happy ending!
What makes this book stand out?:
The suspense and representation of the realities of war.

The Guns of Navarone

Another thriller set in World War II; The Guns of Navarone is a tense, suspenseful novel about a commando team with a mission to destroy a German battlement that could mean the end of a large portion of Allied naval ships and soldiers.

Read it For:
The suspense and the time-constraint.
Don't Read it For:
Some say that the book portrays its characters as hyper-masculine
What makes this book stand out?:
The book is a classic war thriller, and the suspense will keep you on the edge of your seat.

South by Java Head

First Officer Nicholson is on a mission to rescue and help the civilians and soldiers evacuate a ruined Singapore that has fallen to the Japanese army. When both tankers that intend to take the people to safety are destroyed, Nicholson leads the people to sea on open boats, where nobody knows how long they will survive.

Read it For:
The convoluted plot with a twist at every corner.
Don't Read it For:
The ending of the book is seemingly rushed and does not conclude the story very well.
What makes this book stand out?:
The clarity with which MacLean communicated the shocking horrors of war and the desperation that refugees feel.

Night Without End

A plane crashes in the polar ice cap, and ten people survive it. A team of researchers, who then discover that the pilot had been shot – rescues them. The question arises; who shot the pilot? The consequent events in the story revolve around a rapidly intensifying mystery of identifying the attempted murderer.

Read it For:
The mystery and the literally chilling and isolated setting.
Don't Read it For:
The book has been said to be a drag to read through, and with a very anticlimactic ending.
What makes this book stand out?:
The impeccable plots so typical of Alistair Maclean’s popular novels.
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Fear Is The Key

John Talbot is a murderer who kidnaps the young daughter of a multimillionaire. However, a man named Jablonsky, saves Mary, the girl. He then decides to demand a ransom of her father to release her, but her father, General Ruthven, has better plans.

Read it For:
The book is fast-paced and rich with action and makes for an exciting read.
Don't Read it For:
Across Alistair MacLean’s best books, some of his characters seem very similarly constructed.
What makes this book stand out?:
The simple writing and engrossing plotline.

The Satan Bug

Written under MacLean’s pseudonym, Ian Stuart, The Satan Bug is an extremely infectious virus that harbors the potential to wipe out life on Earth. The man who has stolen this virus from the Mordon Microbiological Research Establishment (MMRE) threatens to infect the population within unless the MMRE is demolished. Pierre Cavell, an ex-soldier, and policeman, is on the case to stop this anarchist.

Read it For:
The book is intriguing and entertaining.
Don't Read it For:
A lot of the content in this story has been described as difficult to believe, and the components of it poorly sewn together.
What makes this book stand out?:
The engagement of germ warfare in the plot!

Ice Station Zebra

Ice Station Zebra is a story about a submarine, Dolphin that is sent out on a mission to find and rescue the men at a weather station in the Arctic called Zebra. The twist that is uncovered, though, is that the fire at Zebra may have been started by one of the survivors…

Read it For:
MacLean’s knack for causing intense sensation through words.
Don't Read it For:
The book has been described as difficult to read through.
What makes this book stand out?:
The adventure and tension.

When Eight Bells Toll

Philip Calvert comes to Torbay on behalf of the British Secret Service to investigate into the case of five hijacked ships on the Irish Sea. Managing to locate the whereabouts of the latest ship, Calvert is thrown into an adventure of mystery, murder, and deception.

Read it For:
The book is an exciting, fast-paced read that will have you on the edge of your seat.
Don't Read it For:
The book does employ stereotypical gender roles, and has apparently been overdone regarding the writing.
What makes this book stand out?:
The sheer brilliance of the plot twists and deception.

Where Eagles Dare

A team of British Special Forces descends into the Austrian Alps, on a mission to locate and aerially access the headquarters of Nazi intelligence located in a castle. Although their mission is to save another one of their members, things begin to go awry when the members begin to die, one after another!

Read it For:
The building tension and the setting of the story.
Don't Read it For:
The plot becomes predictable, unlike other MacLean stories.
What makes this book stand out?:
The deception integrated into the plot

The Golden Gate

The President of the United States of America is kidnapped by a group of criminals, led by Peter Branson, along with a king and a prince from West Asia. The criminals block off and rig the Golden Gate Bridge with explosives, threatening to destroy it unless they are compensated for. Branson is unaware, however, special agent named Paul Revson, who – equipped with just a camera – intends to save the lives of those in trouble.

Read it For:
The time-constraint and intelligent planning that goes into formulating the criminals’ plan to get what they want.
Don't Read it For:
The book starts to drag in the middle!
What makes this book stand out?:
The adventure and delicious tension in the story.

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