Sometimes the third time really is the charm. So it is with Alistair Maclean and me. I missed McLean entirely during his heyday when he was one of the world's most popular writers of thrillers, yet I had heard so many good things about his books that I finally decided to give them a try. The first two novels I read, Partisans and Puppet on a Chain, proved disappointing. My third attempt, however, produced different results.
When the ship's captain is badly wounded in one attack, the responsibility for getting the San Andeas to safety falls on Archie McKinnon, the bosun. The hospital ship has no weapons aboard, so McKinnon must defend the ship using the bad weather, the long winter nights and the ship itself. Then there are the problems of finding the saboteurs(s) and getting the ship to a friendly port.
McKinnon turns out to be my kind of hero, one who uses brains more than brawn, and the result proves thoroughly entertaining. San Andreas may be the name of a California fault line, but McLean's novel with that title turned out to be nothing like a disaster.