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Joe, I devoured MacLean in my teenage years as well. And I've reviewed a couple of Hamilton's Matt Helm novels. A nice review of this MacLean novel. I recently re-read this book myself, and I agree with your opinions.
This together with Bear Island constitutes the final novels where MacLean's powers were at their best. After that, there would still be exciting stuff to read about, but the novels became more and more routine.
At least that seems to be the general opinion of MacLean's works, and I do tend to agree with it. Personally, I love these type of action adventure stories, so MacLean and Desmond Bagley gets re-read quite often.
I only wish I had other authors of the same type that I could read. Dick Francis is similar, and I like his stuff as well. Hammond Innes also came recommended to me, and I've only read one of his novels The Curse of Mary Deare , but I'm not sure he's really all that similar to these guys Christian, I haven't read Hammond Innes but he is on my list of writers I need to read.
And there'll be a Desmond Bagley review coming up in the not-too-distant future. Each year gypsies from all over Europe gather in Provence at the shrine of their patron saint. They even come from behind the Iron Curtain - no-one, not even a devout communist, wants to risk trying to stop them and ending up with a gypsy curse on his head.
As the novel opens a young gypsy is being hunted, by other gypsies. He knows he is under the shadow of death. But why is he being hunted? The Duc de Croyter is a huge man with a booming voice and a prodigious appetite for food and other sensory delights and he has an aristocratic disdain for convention, a disdain that he takes to extreme lengths.
Neil Bowman is not a folklorist. He has no occupation. He has enough money from his very wealthy family to have no need to trouble himself with anything as sordid and tiresome as work. What he does have is an inexplicable degree of curiosity about these gypsies. This curiosity seems like it might cost him his life. Bowman soon finds himself being hunted, in an extended and extremely well executed action sequence, through the grim ruins of a medieval castle high on a cliff-top.
But why is someone so keen to kill this apparently innocuous Englishman? Why were the same people so keen to kill the young gypsy? And where does the Duc de Croyter fit into all this? In this novel MacLean employs a technique that he also uses in a number of his other books - he plunges us into an exciting and dangerous tale but he is careful to conceal from the reader exactly what the situation really is.
He structured his thrillers more like classic mystery novels, where the detective generally knows the answer to the puzzle long before the reader does. Oddly enough this technique worked very well for MacLean, since the reader knows the protagonist is in danger but has no way of knowing what will happen next. MacLean was also very good at action set-pieces and this novel has several that are very good indeed - the pursuits in the limestone caves and through the castle ruins mentioned earlier plus a very clever bull-ring execution scene and a canal chase involving a power boat, a fishing boat and a Rolls-Royce limousine.
He also had a well-deserved reputation for making exceptionally effective use of harsh and forbidding landscapes. In this novel his use of the ruined castle and the endless plains of the Camargue are fine examples of this talent. By comparison with many of his contemporaries MacLean avoided sex and graphic violence. The truth is he had no need to resort to resort to graphic depictions of violence - he relies on maintaining a relentless pace and keeping the reader slightly off-guard and these qualities are more than sufficient to generate the necessary excitement.
Even more surprisingly, it works rather well. Superb entertainment, and highly recommended. Labels: s , alistair maclean , M , thrillers. Joe Allegretti February 9, at PM. Newer Post Older Post Home. Subscribe to: Post Comments Atom.
Caravan to Vaccares
A wandering young American adventurer, Bowman David Birney , meets a pretty young British photographer, Lila Charlotte Rampling when she hitches a ride. They run into the assassin while helping a couple who have broken down by the side of the road. When they arrive in town they meet a French duke Michel Lonsdale who invites them to dinner. He is driving a car lent by the duke. That night a man breaks into a place where they are staying but Bowman fights him off. Bowman is reluctant but the duke says if he won't do it he will report the car as being stolen. The scientist escaped the Iron Curtain by hiding with a caravan of gypsies, but is being pursued by an unscrupulous gang bent on capturing him for sale to the highest bidder.
Caravan to Vaccarès by Alistair MacLean (1969)
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Post a comment. Author: Alistair MacLean. Genre: Thriller. Recommended to: MacLean fans, thriller lovers. Recommended Age Group: 14 or above. Publisher's write-up:.
This is a short pages , intense action thriller, told in 10 chapters, but whose action can be divided into four or so parts. Prologue A terrified young gypsy, Alexandre, is pursued through a sequence of eerie limestone caves, until he is cornered, murdered and buried under rubble. His killers are other gypsies who he has, in some way, crossed. Here are encamped hundreds of gypsies in their brightly painted caravans, en route to the big annual gypsy festival south of Arles. We are introduced to a small cast of colourful characters who will appear throughout the narrative:.