Friday, August 22, 2008

Forgotten Books: Night Without End -- Alistair MacLean

You don't hear much about Alistair MacLean now, but when it came to thriller writers in the early '60s, no one was better. It would be impossible for me to pick a favorite from his many books. At one time or another, I might name The Golden Rendezvous, Ice Station Zebra, The Black Shrike, The Guns of Navarone, Fear is the Key, The Satan Bug, The Secret Ways, or any number of others. But Night Without End would always be in the mix.

MacLean did the weather as well as anyone ever did, and the weather's a major player in Night Without End. Cold weather. As in -70 degrees Fahrenheit cold. The book also involves murders in a claustrophobic setting, twist upon twist, surprise upon surprise. It has mystery, suspense, and thrills galore. What's not to like? I think it's time for a MacLean revival, and this book would be a fine place to begin it.

15 comments:

Bruce said...

Actually Bill I've got The Satan Bug along with other Insect like titles sitting on my TBR pile for a future column for about a month now. But like usual I get sidetracked by other ideas.

Bill Crider said...

So many books, so little time. . . .

pattinase (abbott) said...

This was a big name in my youth. On everyone's shelves.

Bill Crider said...

As well it should have been. Great stuff.

August West said...

At one time I was so hooked on MacLean, that I read all his books. The early stuff is wonderful. Unfortunately his later books didn't hold up well. "Night Without End" was one of his best and you are right it is a Forgotten Book of his. He wrote more fine novels than "Guns of Navarone", "Ice Station Zebra" or "Breakheart Pass"-I guess we all forget at times, me included....

David Cranmer said...

A most enjoyable writer, especially his earlier work. I think for the most part Hollywood did pretty well by the films that were adapted from his novels.

Juri said...

Yes, this must be one of his best, if not the best. I grew up scorning authors like MacLean, but now I admire his skills.

Brian said...

These books all run together in my mind now, but I read many of them as a youth. My brother & I still laugh at his recurring use of the phrase "agony of returning circulation" whenever somebody walked in from out of the cold. Great books, though!

Ali Karim said...

Bill -

I really enjoy your blog and you have great taste. In my youth I devoured all of Alistair MacLean's work, and even gave Lee Child a first edition of THE GUNS OF NAVARONE for he always takes me to dinner each year. Child is also a reader of MacLean.

Anyway NIGHT WITHOUT END is magnificent, and I would add that all of his early work is superb but equally special to me are -

PUPPET ON A CHAIN
BREAKHEART PASS
CIRCUS
FEAR IS THE KEY

He has been credited by Child, Lehane and many others as a major influence.

Great to see someone mention MacLean again

Thanks

Ali

Bill Crider said...

Obviously MacLean's not forgotten by some of us, and I'm glad to hear that Lee Child is a fan. Jack Reacher has a bit of the MacLean hero in him, I'd say.

Martin Edwards said...

I much preferred the early books. HMS Ulysses is, I think, the best written. Of the later thrillers, my favourites were The Satan Bug and Fear is the Key.

Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of The Satan Bug too.

And you convinced me to order Night Without End.

See how much power you have, Bill?

Jeff

Bill Crider said...

Today, the blog. Tomorrow, the world!

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Seventy degrees F. may be cold to you people that live in Hell's furnace (AKA Alvin), but I consider it balmy and comfortable.

Bill Crider said...

You missed the little minus sign, Cap'n.