Where Eagles Dare by Alistair MacLean

Where Eagles Dare by Alistair MacLean

Where Eagles Dare by Alistair MacLean

Alistair Maclean died in 1987, but what a legacy he left behind.

Alistair MacLean wrote the novel, Where Eagles Dare, at the same time as he wrote the screenplay. The 1968 film was shot on location in Bavaria and Austria. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer produced this classic film with stars such as Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood and Mary Ure. Both the book and the film were a major success.

Out of interest, the title comes from Act I, Scene III in William Shakespeare’s play Richard III: ‘The world is grown so bad, that wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch’.

The plot has various twists and turns. During the winter of 1943 to 44 U.S. Army Brigadier General George Carnaby is captured by the Germans. He is said to be a chief planner for the Western Front. The Germans take him to Schloß Adler to be interrogated. The castle can only be accessed by cable car or by helicopter.

A British Major, John Smith and a U.S. Army Ranger Lieutenant, Morris Schaffer (Clint Eastwood) are instructed on their mission by Colonel Turner and Admiral Rolland of Britain’s MI6. They are to be parachuted into Germany disguised as German troops with a team of commandos. Their mission – to rescue Carnaby before he can be interrogated.  They are dropped by a captured German Ju-52 transport plane. Smith secretly contacts agents Mary Ellison and Heidi Schmidt. The other commandoes do not know of their existence. Heidi gets Mary a job as a secretary at the castle.

Two of the commandoes are killed in suspicious circumstances, though Smith decides to continue the operation. He works closely with Shaffer and informs London of what is happening.

The commandos surrender to the Germans and Smith and Schaffer are separated from the enlisted men. Smith and Schaffer quickly kill the Germans who are guarding them and then get their escape route ready. They ride on top of the cable car and then climb up a rope, lowered by Mary, into the castle.

Carnaby is being interrogated by General Rosemeyer and Standartenführer Kramer. When the three captured enlisted men arrive, they identify themselves as German double agents.

The plot then gets quite tricky to follow. But it is worth staying with it as it is ingenious.

Where Eagles Dare by Alistair MacLean is a fantastic read and the film is a classic and one to watch over and over again. He is a great author in the style of Desmond Bagley and Hammond Innes.

Buy Where Eagles Dare from one of the worlds greatest authors and you will not be sorry.

A Small Death in Lisbon by Robert Wilson

A small death in Lisbon by Robert Wilson

A small death in Lisbon by Robert Wilson

I was recommended to the works of Robert Wilson by a friend of mine and I am glad I was. The espionage thriller, ‘A small death in Lisbon’, intrigued me and so, along with a love of all things Portuguese, I bought it.

Wilson is a British writer who currently lives in Portugal. He is the son of an RAF fighter pilot, and has a degree in English from Oxford. He was written crime novels based in Benin in West Africa, and also a series set mainly in Seville, in the Andalusian region of southern Spain. Born in 1957, the son of an RAF pilot,  he finished his studies with a degree in English at Oxford University which was clearly a good grounding for what was to come. Wilson won the CWA Gold Dagger for this book  and the German Crime Prize and rightly (or is it writely?) so.

 

A Small Death in Lisbon is an excellent novel by Robert Wilson and well worth the read. The story has several threads which intertwine into a lush tapestry a la finRobert Wilson sets the story in Portugal, which gives a wonderfully exotic air. It involves SS officers during the war and ranges through to sexual intrigue, murder and the contemporary investigations of Inspector José “Zé” Coelho.

Well done Robert!

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Storm Troop by Leo Kessler

leo kessler storm troop

leo kessler storm troop

Leo Kessler, aka Charles Whiting, was a prodigious writer who died in 2007, writing some 350 fiction and non-fiction books – quite astonishing. Many of his great novels are detailed on the wonderful Fantastic Fiction site which I visit so often. I remember many happy days in my youth reading his novels of courage and danger set across the background of a wartorn Europe. He wrote mainly war novels that were exciting and easy reading.

Storm Troop is the first of the nine Stormtroop Edelweiss novels which were to detail the exploits of the crack german Mountain Troops who took as their emblem the beautiful Edelweiss flower of the high European alps. The Edelweiss was highly prized by young men who climbed into the mountains to retrieve them for their beloved.

In this Leo Kessler book the Edelweiss battalion sail through rivers and canals from their base in Bavaria down through France and into the Med. They travel from here to the Greek island of Leros where they land and attack British and Italian positions in the mountains just prior to an airborne assault by German parachutists and German troops who are landed from ships. This is a fast paced, fictitious, fun tale of danger among Greek islands during the war and is well worth a read.

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The Quiller Memorandum by Adam Hall

The Quiller Memorandum by Adam Hall

The Quiller Memorandum by Adam Hall

This is one of the first adventure / spy novels I read and I became a firm fan of Quiller and Adam Hall.

The Quiller Memorandum which was also known as The Berlin Memorandum was written by Adam Hall in 1965.  Hall introduced Quiller in this book as a British intelligence officer in the very secret body known as ‘the Bureau’. Quiller was also said to have been in the secret services during World War II. The Bureau is a shady organisation whose purpose was originally to prevent any possible increaseo in German militarism, such as a fourth Reich.

Quiller was a specialist in Nazi clandestine organizations such as the ‘ratlines’ which were used by Nazis to escape trial. The book is set in the mid-sixties where Quiller is seconded by the Bureau to give secret intelligence information to the Z Commission which is West Germany’s war crimes investigatitive agency. Quiller is persuaded by the bureau to investigate the plans of a secret Nazi secret. He readily does so, as the Nazis have killed one of his friends.

Adam Hall was a wonderful writer of fiction. A classic read that is sure to enthrawl.

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The Salzburg Connection by Helen MacInnes

The Salzburg Connection by Helen MacInnes

The Salzburg Connection by Helen MacInnes

The story begins near to Salzburg, Austria, when a photographer called Richard Bryant dives into the Fintersee Lake, high in the mountains, to retrieve a large chest that had lain there for many years. Unknown to him, he is observed by others. This sets off a deadly chain of events.

Sometime later a lawyer, called William Mathison, to Bryant’s photography shop to ask about a photo book of the Austrian lakes that is said to be commissioned by Bill’s client, the publisher James Newhart. Anna, Bryant’s wife gives Bill correspondence from Eric Yates who previously claimed to be Newhart’s representative. Soon after Bill leaves, Anna’s brother Johann Kronsteiner is told, by family friend Felix Zauner, that Bryant has been killed in an accident. Bill finds that he is being followed. A desperate tale involving Austrian Intelligence, Mossad, Chinese Communists, CIA, Nazis and the KGB ensues. The secrets that lay hidden in the chest since the war were explosive.

This novel, by Helen MacInnes is one of my favourites. The start of the novel is very evocative and the suspense continues throughout the book. The story was written in 1968 and took inspiration from true life events. It had been suspected for many years that, near the end of the war, elite Nazis had trekked into the Austrian mountains and had hidden gold in the depths of many of the remote lakes. The most famous lake being Lake Toplitz which began to give up some of it’s secrets in the late 1950s as divers searched its depths.

A novel of high intrigue, spies and Neo Nazis and a very good read – particularly on a European skiing holiday on a dark night.

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