Mr Maclean does it again and again and again. In fact this is his 21st book. His story this time is the kidnapping of the President of the United States together with a king and prince of the most powerful oilproducing country in the world, with whom the President is hoping to do a deal.
The bridge leading into San Francisco is the real "hero". It is described with impressive detail. Mr Maclean always covers his technical detail beautifully.
The other characters are less convincing, but the old urge to turn the pages to see exactly what will happen still remains. A good read. Take it on holiday.
Summer's End by Archie Hill (Shepheard-Walwyn £3.95) Archie Hill has written this excellent childhood with a difference story. The Black Country in the pre-war years of depression is a difficult background which he uses with a sure touch. It must be true. The character of Gyp, his grown-up friend, is a small classic, and some episodes are extremely funny as well as touching. The rescue of the kingfisher and the boys' decision to free it and not keep it in a cage is one of the most cheering things I have read for a long time. Highly recommended for everyone.
Dance for Diplomats by Pamela Harcourt (Collins £3.50)
This novel must have been written for the enjoyment of rather old-fashioned ladies to read. It is obviously going to he all right in the end.
The heroine is a plucky little woman sent to NATO as the firstever permanent representative. There she gets involved in cloak and dagger activities and, guess what? Turns out to be cleverer than the men.
Pamela Harcourt tries hard to make the defection of a Russian ballet dancer exciting, but it was very hard to care what happened to him or to anyone else either. Marx the First by Bruce Marshall (Constable £2.95).
The Vatican in 1992 is fighting a cdld war with the spirit of Sister Petronella, dead for 400 years. She is, however, far from gone from this world and produces several miracles to the discomfort of the Church.
The most original of these is the incident of the high-heeled shoes worn by a contingent of sexy nuns being turned into roller skates; it leads to their destruction. The really interesting character in the book is the ambiguous Secretary of State at the Vatican, Stephen. He has presence among a great many cardboard figures. "Anti-Catholics" will enjoy this hook very much! It is amusing in parts, but a lot of the jokes have a hollow ring.
The Quiet Showman: Sir David Webster by Montague Haltrecht (Collins £6).
In a charming and delightful book, the author covers in immaculate style the exciting days from the end of the war until Sir Dayid Webster's death. The story of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and the man who brought it to glory is cleverly done, intertwining the fate of the building with the person. The names which fill the pages, Oliver Mcssel, Constant Lambert. Margot Fonteyn, Maria Callas. Lord Ilarewood, to name only a few, all come to life and everyone interested in opera and ballet will enjoy this hook. Sir David himself is described with love and sympathy by the author. His dealings with various governments, his battles over money and his great achievement of recognition of British artistes are shown with great clarity. Sir David looked after people, as well as recognising and using their brilliance.
Bess by Robert Leeson (Collins £2.95).
This is an adventure book for young teenagers. Robert has an unconvincing heroine, very "women's lib." late 16th century. He crowds too much into his story but his local history is good and there is real feelin,g in his portrayal of the have nots of the period he has chosen. Harry Game by Gerald Seymour (Collins/Fontana £3.50), Gerald Seymour has written an excellent thriller which is exciting and tense all the way. It has depth. and presents a horrifying picture of life in Northern Ireland today. Highly recommended, . • Stephen Decatur, the Devil and Endymion by Brian Burland (George Allen and Unwin £3.95).
The fast-moving story of a sea battle during the war of 1812 fought by America against England makes a rare subject for a novel. The smell of the sea, of blood, is all-pervading. War is violent. horrible Co the participants. Brian Burland puts this across very well. Not to everyone's taste but good in its type.