San Andreas by Alistair MacLean


The Author

Alistair Stuart MacLean ( 1922-1987). A Scottish novelist of largely adventure stories. Born in Glasgow he was the son of a Church of Scotland Minister.  Many of his stories use world war two  navy knowledge; MacLean having served during WW2 in the British navy. Hi service took him into the Atlantic, Artic, Mediterranean, Far East and off Norway, Burma, Malaya and Sumatra. After the war he studied English at the university of Glascow and worked as a school teacher.

The Story

San Andreas, may be one of Alistair Maclean’s lesser known novels, but it is equally as good as his best. This is a well written novel using the author’s knowledge of boats, the Second World War and weather. While other books by Maclean like: The Guns of Navarone and HMS Ulysses, may be seen as an instant draw-card to the reader who likes an adventure- thriller, a plot based on the plight of a hospital ship in hostile waters might not be perceived to have the same appeal. Such a subject matter might be considered as being as shaky as the San Andreas fault-line as far as marketing is concerned, for a hospital ship during the Second World War was neutral and somewhat boring as it carried no weapons. Yet this was no ordinary hospital ship and as time has shown was never likely to founder with Maclean at the helm.

The story largely centres around Mr McKinnon, who reluctantly ends up in charge as the ship encounters saboteurs on board, and the enemy in the sea and air. While this may be a slow moving novel, the ride is far from calm waters and the author’s skill to captivate the reader will keep the reader intrigued and eager to learn what happened next. This is a novel I can recommend for those who enjoy war stories and adventure.


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