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Puppet on a Chain (1969)

by Alistair MacLean

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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7711022,361 (3.4)13
From the acclaimed master of action and suspense. The all time classic. Paul Sherman of Interpol's Narcotics Bureau flies to Amsterdam on the trail of a dope king. With enormous skill the atmosphere is built up: Amsterdam with its canals and high houses; stolid police; psychopaths; women in distress and above all - murder.… (more)
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» See also 13 mentions

English (8)  Dutch (2)  All languages (10)
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Though not in the league of MacLean's more famous action/adventure novels, Puppet on a Chain is a thrilling, fast paced read. The hero, Sherman, is James Bond-esque, complete with a couple of gorgeous assistants, but is more prone to failure. The villains are cruel, ruthless and violent, but a bit lacking in shrewdness to kill Sherman when they have the chance. All this makes for a very entertaining, high-speed ride through the streets and canals of Amsterdam that is best enjoyed without putting too much of thought into it. I liked it very much! ( )
  aravind_aar | Nov 21, 2021 |
I’ve been trying to read this for over two months. It’s a depressing read, or at least more depressing than I was prepared for — nobody expects a thriller about an Interpol man trying to stamp out the heroin trade to be sunshine and puppies, but the atmosphere is squalid and it’s always dark and raining in this version of Amsterdam. I felt like I was reading it through a veil of dirt and smoke. Also, I found it irritating that the Interpol man brought along two women to help him out with the case but seemed to relegate them to their hotel room most of the time or to helper-type roles. ( )
  rabbitprincess | May 23, 2021 |
"Puppet on a Chain" is another MacLean spy novel set in the 50's. I did like that it had the morals of the era and a lack of swearing. That's as far as it went. Mjr. Sherman is an ass. I don't know how anyone could work for him or how he got prompted in the first place. Lots of gruesome murders to read about and a drug culture you would expect in Amsterdam. ( )
  delta61 | Feb 7, 2020 |
Three stars or four? Three or four? How about three and a half?

This Alistair MacLean book is an odd one. It's darker than his other books, and even creepy. It's about Paul Sherman, a British Interpol agent, in Amsterdam looking for the source of drug trafficking into Britain. Aided by the Dutch police and by two good looking female assistants, he's almost immediately thrown into the thick of things when the person he was coming to meet is gunned down at the airport in his sight. After that, he's followed to and from his hotel throughout the novel.

It was amusing to see "cannabis" as the source of so much evil in this book, considering pot is now legal in several states. However, the main drug Sherman is after is heroin. And he finds it in the strangest of locations. One of my complaints about the book is, after years on the case -- from afar -- and after the Dutch have done nothing, in one to two days, Sherman finds the drugs, the source, the dealers, everything. It's not very believable. In fact, the implausibility of the story is something I just don’t like about the novel. Sherman is constantly having his gun taken from him by the bad guys, who never kill him, thus giving him the opportunity to escape. He's above the law, breaking numerous laws himself as he tries to find out what he's after. The person we think to be the main dealer, Reverend Goodbody, has a whole town under his spell and willing to commit murder for him. Really? Then there's the life-like female puppets hanging from a chain on top of a warehouse. It's too much to take.

Additionally, Sherman isn't very likeable. He lies constantly. He's a sexist pig. (This book was written in the 1960s....) After treating his female assistants like annoying children the whole way through the book, at the very end, he all of a sudden wants to marry one of them. Say what? He's so condescending. Prig. I wanted to like him. I wanted to be on his side. The bad guys were so bad, that I had to be on his side, but I think I secretly wanted him to die too. Terrible of me, I know.

This book is not the author's worst, but it's far from his best -- very far. It is fast paced and entertaining, yes, but just not very believable, and that knocks it down a star for me. The sexism knocks it down another star. Three stars. Very cautiously recommended. ( )
  scottcholstad | Jun 3, 2015 |
### Review

'With this book Alistair MacLean will make another killing' Sunday Mirror

### Product Description

From the acclaimed master of action and suspense. The all time classic.From the acclaimed master of action and suspense. The all time classic.Paul Sherman of Interpol's Narcotics Bureau flies to Amsterdam on the trail of a dope king.With enormous skill the atmosphere is built up: Amsterdam with its canals and high houses; stolid police; psychopaths; women in distress and above all murder.
  Hans.Michel | Sep 13, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (38 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alistair MacLeanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Beecher-Kindler, GeorgetteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hallén, SvenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jaskari, JuhaniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zieliński, BronisławTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"We shall be arriving in Schiphol airport, Amsterdam, in just a few minutes." Mellifluous, accentless, the Dutch stewardess' voice could have been precisely duplicated on any of a dozen European airlines.
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From the acclaimed master of action and suspense. The all time classic. Paul Sherman of Interpol's Narcotics Bureau flies to Amsterdam on the trail of a dope king. With enormous skill the atmosphere is built up: Amsterdam with its canals and high houses; stolid police; psychopaths; women in distress and above all - murder.

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