I have read this book after forty four years. Man! Did I miss a great read so far?! Alistair MacLean had style and wrote with a sophisticated art of spinning webs in his narration. This book could be the motivating precursor to the French Connection series that became popular with Gene Hackman and Fernando Rey. Major Paul Sherman is an interesting character from Interpol. He, along with Alistair Maclean, has a fair understanding of good classical music as he identifies all the strains on the candy machine music boxes. It is surprising, though, that MacLean never takes him for at least one visit to the famous Concertgebouw, the House of the Amsterdam Orchestra that grew up mostly with Maestro Bernard Haitink. Maclean could have easily inserted a scene of the Concertgebouw during his narration of this exciting tale. The famous `Puppet on a Chain' is the one resembling Astrid Lemay, a pivotal character in the book.
People call Maclean the master of action and suspense. There is no doubt about it as you read this book. It is a Classic by all means. I will give it a AA (Four and a Half Stars)and recommend it to all readers of good fiction. Paul Sherman is from the Narcotics Bureau of Interpol. He is on the trail of a drug lord in Amsterdam. Maclean builds up the plot very skillfully. He writes about Amsterdam in such a fashion that you feel that you are there yourself in the city, seeing those high houses and those famous canals as you walk through the eyes of Sherman. You don't just walk there; you come across police cars, racing taxis, women in trouble, pyschos, puppets, drug junkies and ,above all, murder.
Alistair Maclean was the son of a Scottish minister. He spent his childhood days in the Scottish Highlands. He enrolled in the Royal Navy in 1941. Post Second World War, he taught English at the Glasgow University and became a schoolmaster. He spent over a couple of years aboard a wartime cruiser and a submarine. It does not come as a surprise that his first novel was about a submarine, `HMS Ulysses', followed years later by another masterpiece, `Ice Station Zebra'. He met with considerable success with his `HMS Ulysses'. It was written and circulated in 1955. After that book, he has penned twenty eight more bestsellers in the world; this is one of those. Many other books of his have been turned into exciting films like this book such as `The Guns of Navarone' and `Where Eagles Dare'. You may not come across the gadgetry of Bond (Fleming)in the books of Maclean or the ingenuine finesse of a Bourne (Ludlum)in Sherman but you do have a tale spun around an interesting character that comes across as an intelligent sleuth conveying a credible sense of a menacing danger across to the modern readers.