It's been a few years since I read a new-to-me Alistair MacLean book. I really enjoy his writing -- it's streamlined and fast-paced, and I never figure out his plot twists ahead of time. Exactly what I like in a spy novel!
In The Black Shrike, Agents Bentall and Hopeman get sent to Australia to find a bunch of very important scientists and their wives who have gone missing. Bentall and Hopeman never reach Australia, and they spend the rest of the book pretending they're married and trying to figure out what's really happening on a mysterious island.
As MacLean books go, this was not in my top five, but I liked it quite well. Bentall had a self-deprecating sense of humor that amused me -- he was always berating himself for screwing things up that he didn't really, and so on. The suspense was top-notch, the heroics were appropriately thrilling, and the plot twists caught me off-guard as they should.
Particularly Good Bits:
I tried out my carefree laugh to see how it went, but it didn't, it sounded so hollow and unconvincing that it lowered even my morale (p. 27).
I was still giving my impression of one of the statues on Easter Island, carved from stone and badly battered (p. 158).
If This Was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG-13 for violence and suspense.