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29 Reviews
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hugely underrated suspense thriller
This is a vastly underrated story. Set in 1942 with the fall of Singapore to the Japanese, a British national, Brigadier Farnholme (Retired) barges into an army base and demands a ship out of the habour before the Japanese get there.

The story basically follows him and his attempts to get out of Singapore, but develops reasonably quickly to also include the...
Published on 9 April 2010 by Tony Roberts

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Average by MacLean standards
Fairly predictable plot. Not as beautifully descriptive as some of the other classics. Dialogues package characteristic MacLean panache. Entirely missable.
Published 3 months ago by amit malik


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hugely underrated suspense thriller, 9 April 2010
By 
Tony Roberts (Bristol, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: South By Java Head
This is a vastly underrated story. Set in 1942 with the fall of Singapore to the Japanese, a British national, Brigadier Farnholme (Retired) barges into an army base and demands a ship out of the habour before the Japanese get there.

The story basically follows him and his attempts to get out of Singapore, but develops reasonably quickly to also include the fate of a British tanker and its crew who keep on bumping into the Brigadier and the motley crew that he joins in the escape from the doomed city.

The story is full of suspense and you know that something is wrong with more than one of the passengers' stories. Also why are the Japanese chasing them with all they have and refuse to let them get away?

The action jumps from the burning doomed port of Singapore to the waters around the South China Sea and the Indonesian islands as the tanker makes a brave attempt to get away. Finally the story follows the crews and passengers onto the Javanese shore and littoral where their true identities and roles in the story are revealed.

Great story, great characters and a classic suspense action thriller.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic MacLean!, 6 Aug 2010
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A good adventure story, detailing the escape of a disparate group of people from Singapore Harbour on the eve of the Japanese invasion. As with HMS Ulysses, the descriptive writing of war at sea is excellent. Expect and allow for the vocabulary and characterisation to be outdated - this was first published in 1958, after all - but otherwise a fine vintage MacLean with plenty of tension.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars South By Java Head: Alistair MacLean - Epic and unrelenting tale of danger and deception on the high seas, 20 May 2013
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: South by Java Head
Published in 1957, the same year as his masterpiece `Guns Of Navarone', this is a strange mix from MacLean. In many respects it is exceedingly well written, but for some reason I find it unengaging, and of all his books it is the one I return the least frequently to.

Following the fall of Signapore in 1942, a rag tag of refugees are fleeing the city by boat, in the hope of reaching safer shores. Along the way they are beset by disaster - typhoons, enemy attack, and most insidious of all, secret shenanigans from crew members who are not what they seem and have agendas of their own in one of MacLean's secret squirrel plots. For the most part is well put together, with well drawn and interesting characters (although they do tend to fall into MacLean's stock character moulds - calm imperturbable hero seemingly fighting against all odds, tough reliable chaps, sardonically humorous types etc) and some expertly drawn action sequences that thrill and terrify. The problem for me is that the danger is relentless. No sooner are the protagonists out of the frying pan than they are in the fire. And they proceed to leap right back into the frying pan. The constant danger they face becomes a little wearing towards the end, and as a result I lose interest in the complicated spy plot.

4 stars then for this. It's got lots of good bits, but the whole is less than the sum of the parts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars South By Java Head: Alistair MacLean - Epic and unrelenting tale of danger and deception on the high seas, 20 May 2013
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: South by Java Head
Published in 1957, the same year as his masterpiece `Guns Of Navarone', this is a strange mix from MacLean. In many respects it is exceedingly well written, but for some reason I find it unengaging, and of all his books it is the one I return the least frequently to.

Following the fall of Signapore in 1942, a rag tag of refugees are fleeing the city by boat, in the hope of reaching safer shores. Along the way they are beset by disaster - typhoons, enemy attack, and most insidious of all, secret shenanigans from crew members who are not what they seem and have agendas of their own in one of MacLean's secret squirrel plots. For the most part is well put together, with well drawn and interesting characters (although they do tend to fall into MacLean's stock character moulds - calm imperturbable hero seemingly fighting against all odds, tough reliable chaps, sardonically humorous types etc) and some expertly drawn action sequences that thrill and terrify. The problem for me is that the danger is relentless. No sooner are the protagonists out of the frying pan than they are in the fire. And they proceed to leap right back into the frying pan. The constant danger they face becomes a little wearing towards the end, and as a result I lose interest in the complicated spy plot.

4 stars then for this. It's got lots of good bits, but the whole is less than the sum of the parts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars South By Java Head: Alistair MacLean - Epic and unrelenting tale of danger and deception on the high seas, 20 May 2013
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Published in 1957, the same year as his masterpiece `Guns Of Navarone', this is a strange mix from MacLean. In many respects it is exceedingly well written, but for some reason I find it unengaging, and of all his books it is the one I return the least frequently to.

Following the fall of Signapore in 1942, a rag tag of refugees are fleeing the city by boat, in the hope of reaching safer shores. Along the way they are beset by disaster - typhoons, enemy attack, and most insidious of all, secret shenanigans from crew members who are not what they seem and have agendas of their own in one of MacLean's secret squirrel plots. For the most part is well put together, with well drawn and interesting characters (although they do tend to fall into MacLean's stock character moulds - calm imperturbable hero seemingly fighting against all odds, tough reliable chaps, sardonically humorous types etc) and some expertly drawn action sequences that thrill and terrify. The problem for me is that the danger is relentless. No sooner are the protagonists out of the frying pan than they are in the fire. And they proceed to leap right back into the frying pan. The constant danger they face becomes a little wearing towards the end, and as a result I lose interest in the complicated spy plot.

4 stars then for this. It's got lots of good bits, but the whole is less than the sum of the parts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars South By Java Head: Alistair MacLean - Epic and unrelenting tale of danger and deception on the high seas, 20 May 2013
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: South by Java Head
Published in 1957, the same year as his masterpiece `Guns Of Navarone', this is a strange mix from MacLean. In many respects it is exceedingly well written, but for some reason I find it unengaging, and of all his books it is the one I return the least frequently to.

Following the fall of Signapore in 1942, a rag tag of refugees are fleeing the city by boat, in the hope of reaching safer shores. Along the way they are beset by disaster - typhoons, enemy attack, and most insidious of all, secret shenanigans from crew members who are not what they seem and have agendas of their own in one of MacLean's secret squirrel plots. For the most part is well put together, with well drawn and interesting characters (although they do tend to fall into MacLean's stock character moulds - calm imperturbable hero seemingly fighting against all odds, tough reliable chaps, sardonically humorous types etc) and some expertly drawn action sequences that thrill and terrify. The problem for me is that the danger is relentless. No sooner are the protagonists out of the frying pan than they are in the fire. And they proceed to leap right back into the frying pan. The constant danger they face becomes a little wearing towards the end, and as a result I lose interest in the complicated spy plot.

4 stars then for this. It's got lots of good bits, but the whole is less than the sum of the parts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars South By Java Head: Alistair MacLean - Epic and unrelenting tale of danger and deception on the high seas, 20 May 2013
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: South by Java Head (Paperback)
Published in 1957, the same year as his masterpiece `Guns Of Navarone', this is a strange mix from MacLean. In many respects it is exceedingly well written, but for some reason I find it unengaging, and of all his books it is the one I return the least frequently to.

Following the fall of Signapore in 1942, a rag tag of refugees are fleeing the city by boat, in the hope of reaching safer shores. Along the way they are beset by disaster - typhoons, enemy attack, and most insidious of all, secret shenanigans from crew members who are not what they seem and have agendas of their own in one of MacLean's secret squirrel plots. For the most part is well put together, with well drawn and interesting characters (although they do tend to fall into MacLean's stock character moulds - calm imperturbable hero seemingly fighting against all odds, tough reliable chaps, sardonically humorous types etc) and some expertly drawn action sequences that thrill and terrify. The problem for me is that the danger is relentless. No sooner are the protagonists out of the frying pan than they are in the fire. And they proceed to leap right back into the frying pan. The constant danger they face becomes a little wearing towards the end, and as a result I lose interest in the complicated spy plot.

4 stars then for this. It's got lots of good bits, but the whole is less than the sum of the parts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars South By Java Head: Alistair MacLean - Epic and unrelenting tale of danger and deception on the high seas, 20 May 2013
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: South by Java Head (Paperback)
Published in 1957, the same year as his masterpiece `Guns Of Navarone', this is a strange mix from MacLean. In many respects it is exceedingly well written, but for some reason I find it unengaging, and of all his books it is the one I return the least frequently to.

Following the fall of Signapore in 1942, a rag tag of refugees are fleeing the city by boat, in the hope of reaching safer shores. Along the way they are beset by disaster - typhoons, enemy attack, and most insidious of all, secret shenanigans from crew members who are not what they seem and have agendas of their own in one of MacLean's secret squirrel plots. For the most part is well put together, with well drawn and interesting characters (although they do tend to fall into MacLean's stock character moulds - calm imperturbable hero seemingly fighting against all odds, tough reliable chaps, sardonically humorous types etc) and some expertly drawn action sequences that thrill and terrify. The problem for me is that the danger is relentless. No sooner are the protagonists out of the frying pan than they are in the fire. And they proceed to leap right back into the frying pan. The constant danger they face becomes a little wearing towards the end, and as a result I lose interest in the complicated spy plot.

4 stars then for this. It's got lots of good bits, but the whole is less than the sum of the parts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars South By Java Head: Alistair MacLean - Epic and unrelenting tale of danger and deception on the high seas, 20 May 2013
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: South by Java Head (Hardcover)
Published in 1957, the same year as his masterpiece `Guns Of Navarone', this is a strange mix from MacLean. In many respects it is exceedingly well written, but for some reason I find it unengaging, and of all his books it is the one I return the least frequently to.

Following the fall of Signapore in 1942, a rag tag of refugees are fleeing the city by boat, in the hope of reaching safer shores. Along the way they are beset by disaster - typhoons, enemy attack, and most insidious of all, secret shenanigans from crew members who are not what they seem and have agendas of their own in one of MacLean's secret squirrel plots. For the most part is well put together, with well drawn and interesting characters (although they do tend to fall into MacLean's stock character moulds - calm imperturbable hero seemingly fighting against all odds, tough reliable chaps, sardonically humorous types etc) and some expertly drawn action sequences that thrill and terrify. The problem for me is that the danger is relentless. No sooner are the protagonists out of the frying pan than they are in the fire. And they proceed to leap right back into the frying pan. The constant danger they face becomes a little wearing towards the end, and as a result I lose interest in the complicated spy plot.

4 stars then for this. It's got lots of good bits, but the whole is less than the sum of the parts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars South By Java Head: Alistair MacLean - Epic and unrelenting tale of danger and deception on the high seas, 20 May 2013
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: South By Java Head (Hardcover)
Published in 1957, the same year as his masterpiece `Guns Of Navarone', this is a strange mix from MacLean. In many respects it is exceedingly well written, but for some reason I find it unengaging, and of all his books it is the one I return the least frequently to.

Following the fall of Signapore in 1942, a rag tag of refugees are fleeing the city by boat, in the hope of reaching safer shores. Along the way they are beset by disaster - typhoons, enemy attack, and most insidious of all, secret shenanigans from crew members who are not what they seem and have agendas of their own in one of MacLean's secret squirrel plots. For the most part is well put together, with well drawn and interesting characters (although they do tend to fall into MacLean's stock character moulds - calm imperturbable hero seemingly fighting against all odds, tough reliable chaps, sardonically humorous types etc) and some expertly drawn action sequences that thrill and terrify. The problem for me is that the danger is relentless. No sooner are the protagonists out of the frying pan than they are in the fire. And they proceed to leap right back into the frying pan. The constant danger they face becomes a little wearing towards the end, and as a result I lose interest in the complicated spy plot.

4 stars then for this. It's got lots of good bits, but the whole is less than the sum of the parts.
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