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The Dark Crusader by Alistair MacLean
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The Dark Crusader (1961)

by Alistair MacLean

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» See also 19 mentions

English (10)  Danish (2)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All languages (14)
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
The Black Shrike is one of the best books I've read (so far!) by Alistair MacLean. It's cold war counter espionage stuff from about 60 years ago, so is a little dated, but it holds up well.

What I really liked, apart from the twisty plot, is the humanity and fallibility of the main character. He might be an agent, but he's no James Bond, though a bit more like MacGyver!

This one is definitely a keeper. ( )
  fuzzi | Apr 17, 2019 |
I remember this book packing a veritable emotional punch. The extra ending also serves to enhance the effect. ( )
  Crontab_e | Sep 19, 2017 |
From dusty office to dusty office, with a whole hell-of-a-lot in between . . . This is Alistair MacLean at his finest. ( )
  Oskar_Matzerath | Aug 17, 2014 |
On OK book, but not up to the expectation that several of the previous MacLean works created for me. An interesting yarn with all of the necessary intrigue and double-crossing one needs for a spy thriller, but the human chemistry seemed off. I never made the connection between Bentall and Hopeman, and thus the romantic part felt insincere to me....forced. Lots of pure luck as always plays a larger role in their survival it seems than necessarily cleverness on their part. I certainly enjoyed it, but it was no 'Guns of Navarone.' ( )
  jeffome | Aug 3, 2014 |
Warning: This review contains spoilers.

Britain's scientists are being lured away from the country by mysterious job advertisements. All of the scientists in question are specialists in burgeoning scientific and technical fields, all married, no children. And they have all disappeared en route to these promising new jobs. Then a ninth advertisement appears. This time, the scientist responding to it is ready for trouble.

In the MacLean pantheon, this ranks below The Guns of Navarone and Ice Station Zebra, but above Where Eagles Dare. It's a pretty technical book: this is the place to go if you want information about 1960s-era rocket technology. And for those who enjoy placing their protagonist in the direst jeopardy, over and over again, this will be thrilling to read. The first-person narration really captures the grinding futility felt by the protagonist as he continually battles a seemingly omnipotent villain, and the despair into which he sinks at the end.

This ending really made the book. I was worried that somehow MacLean would pull a highly improbable rabbit out of a hat and have Bentall and Marie walking into the sunset, or smooching under the lights of London. But he doesn't. What does happen is incredibly bleak and very well done. A punch to the gut, but well done.

I would recommend this if you like your Cold War narratives with rockets included, stories of relentless adversity and tales of skulduggery in the South Pacific. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Oct 23, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alistair MacLeanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Vuoristo, AaroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Douglas and Violet
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A small dusty man in a small dusty room.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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UK Title - The Dark Crusader
US Title - The Black Shrike (as Ian Stuart)
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Eight job advertisements. Eight jobs. Eight specialists in modern technology required. Eight scientists to fill them. Applicants to be married, with no children, and prepared to travel. Highly persuasive salaries. One criminal mastermind. Eight positions filled. Eight scientists - and their wives - disappear. Completely. One secret agent to stop him. Advertisment no. 9. Sydney, Australia. Fuel specialist required. Looks like a job for John Bentall!… (more)

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