Alistair Maclean. What can I say? Master of great plots, action-page turners, involving major complicated international operations full of spies, international intrigue and so much more. Like so many other people, I grew up reading him. He’s superb.

Born in Glasgow, Maclean grew up speaking Gaellic, with English as his second language. After joining the Royal Navy in 1941, Maclean saw overt and covert action during the Second World War and picked up a lot of the detail that he was later to use so successfully in novels. He studied at the University of Glasgow, post-1946, and began work as a teacher. Maclean started writing short stories while studying to supplement his income and after winning a competition, the publishers Collins commissioned him to write a novel. HMS Ulysses, based on his own experiences, was the result.

If you haven’t read a Maclean before a few favourites are: Night without End; Ice Station Zebra; When Eight Bells Toll; Force 10 from Navarone; Puppet on a Chain – most of these were made into very successful movies, Ice Station Zebra, starring Rock Hudson in a stellar cast is a particular recommendation.


See also: Robert Ludlum; Frederick Forsyth; John Wyndham

Rare books: We are listing a 1973 HB 1st edition (UK) of The Way to Dusty Death