One of the first authors I became aware of in life was Alistair MacLean. My father was – and remains – an avid reader of MacLean. And so, as I grew up, the sight of a worn-out AM book was a familiar one. A particularly battered copy of Where Eagles Dare comes to mind. I was always entranced by the snow-covered scenery, the cable-car and an exasperated-looking Richard Burton on the cover!
This book, therefore, became a childhood favourite, along with many others by Alistair MacLean, Desmond Bagley and Hammond Innes to name but a few. As I continued through school in the eighties and nineties, I was surprised to find that few of my friends seemed to know who Alistair MacLean was, for his most successful years were in the sixties. By 1987, he was dead.
In my final years at school, I found a copy of Bear Island in my school library. It was dusty and battered – like all the AM books we had at home. As my friends talked about a new writer named John Grisham, I settled into Bear Island. I’m sure it still rests in the library. Dusty and battered like always. Perhaps a few inquisitive minds have given it a whirl, but, like the author, I suspect that Bear Island has been largely forgotten.
That brings me to today. I joined a website named Goodreads.com. A quick search of Where Eagles Dare brought me to a page with thousands of reviews of Alistair MacLean. It seems that the great author was never forgotten at all. It was I who was in the wrong place.