Alistair MacLean has his detractors, and you can understand why; some people claim that his characters are `one-dimensional', especially the female characters, and because a story develops from the characters his stories must be one-dimensional as well. Hmm. Maybe. Over his career Alistair MacLean established himself as one of the leading authors of popular fiction, so he must have done something right, and The Golden Rendezvous offers an example of why he remains so popular.
The Golden Rendezvous was written in 1962 and the story taps into the prevalent fear of the time - nuclear weapons. The plot centres on the disappearance of a nuclear weapon and a series of mysterious events aboard the s.s. Campari. Along with ice-bound landscapes, the sea is one of MacLean's strongest locations and he draws you into the sailor's world with descriptive ease. The s.s Campari is hijacked, murder and mayhem ensue and it is left to Chief Officer Johnny Carter to rescue the situation. Carter is a typical MacLean hero - an `ordinary' man with an `ordinary' name performing extraordinary deeds. Carter is a likeable narrator and the reader empathises with him as he struggles against the odds.
The s.s. Campari offers a closed environment and therefore a limited cast of characters, which can be an advantage in a crime/mystery/adventure novel. The passengers aboard the s.s. Campari are multi-millionaires and MacLean has fun at their expense as Carter and the splenetic captain, Bullen, do their best to avoid them.
I would place The Golden Rendezvous in the mid-range of Alistair MacLean novels, which makes it a highly enjoyable read.
Mansel Jones, author of Blind Justice Blind Justice: A Max Gwyther Mystery