I picked up a lot of Alistair MacLean novels as reprints at a local book shop a few years ago and enjoyed a lot of them but there were a few gaps. So when I spotted Floodgate going for 75p in a charity shop I thought I’d fill the gap and give it a go.
The opening is strong enough: terrorists flood Amsterdam airport and later breach other dykes to demonstrate their capabilty. The hero Detective Lieutenant Peter van Effen takes on the job of stopping them – hes well connected, an excellent detective, a master of disguise, a crack psychologist and an explosives expert.
That is the first problem with the book – he’s just too good at everything. Very quickly he’s the cat playing with the mice who are the criminals who don’t realise he’s toying with them till he can get them all in the bag at once. Pretty soon after that all the real jeapordy goes out of the story and soon after that the villains start to get painted as misguided, unfortunates and the victims of others. I kept reading thinking their might be a twist or an interesting climax but when the final confrontation comes with just a few pages to spare its over very quickly and with a whimper rather than a bang.
So Alistair MacLean’s Floodgate will be going to find a new home at a charity shop soon.