Customer Reviews: North from Rome
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars7
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on December 16, 2002
Helen MacInnes wrote this book 40+ years ago, and it has stood the test of time. Her characters could be transported to the 21st century and not be out of place. (Maybe the heroine is a little more helpless, but there are a lot of females like her today.) Though the setting is the early days of the cold war, it is general enough that that too is still believable. Ms. MacInnes developes strong characters, a rip-roaring, suspensful, action-filled plot; and as a bonus one gets to enjoy a visit to Rome, and the countryside north of it. Anything by Helen MacInnes is a good read!
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on July 11, 2008
I was weaned on the suspense novels of Alistair MacLean, Jack Higgins, Robert Ludlum, Colin Forbes, and Frederick Forsyth. The rare one in the bunch, Helen MacInnes was a female who dared to challenge the "big boys" at their espionage game. She wrote with deeper characters, lusher settings, and a keen eye to the feel of her locales. I still remember scenes from "The Venetian Affair," "Snare of the Hunter," and "The Double Image."

I found "North from Rome" in a used bookstore, and, for nostalgia's sake, decided to try a MacInnes I'd never read--one of the few. Right away, I was drawn back into this author's keen sense of people and place. Her dialogue, despite being written fifty years ago, still seems believable for its time. Bill Lammiter is a successful writer who has just lost his fiancee to another man. Depressed and confused, he plans to leave Rome after a long month, but gets caught up in local--and international--intrigue, when he sees a beautiful woman being forced into a car outside his hotel.

From that point, however, the story dragged through the first few chapters, and I had to force myself to keep going. Eventually, Lammiter's digging around leads to trouble and to a better understanding of love. In the end, the pace picked up and I was reminded why I used to be a big MacInnes fan.

Although I still pine for the days of some of these old favorites, I'm glad to have some new favs--including, Daniel Silva, Harlan Coben, James Lee Burke, and Joseph Finder. When it comes to female writers with that old-world feel, I'd say a new favorite of mine is Tricia Goyer.
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on September 2, 2007
This fictional book is about an American playwright, William Lammiter, who goes to Rome to mend his broken engagement to Eleanor Halley, only to discover that she has become the fiancee of Count Luigi Pirotta, an aristocrat as handsome as he is disquieting. Almost simultaneously, through a dramatic chance encounter with a fascinating Italian girl, Rosana Di Feo, Lammiter finds himself caught in the strange and hazardous game of international intrigue. And deeply enmeshed in it he find Count Luigi Pirotta.
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on April 2, 2013
This was the second Helen MacInnes book I ever read (in the 1970s, when I was a teen), and it started me reading all 21 of her novels. I was a big fan of Ludlum and le Carré, and I quickly added her to my list of Must-Reads. When these books were first published (NORTH FROM ROME is from 1958), she was the only woman in the espionage writing business, and her female perception of the shadowy world of spies and intrigue is really interesting. I've just reread several of her books, including this one, and they're very dated now--she has a real fear of "the Communists" that seems out of place in the 21st century--but they haven't lost any of their excitement and charm. Yes, charm--it's the only word for it. Her hero and heroine are solid, witty, capable people, and her villains are appropriately dastardly. The plot starts out in high gear--a woman is rescued from assassins on page 3--and the pace never slows down.

Helen MacInnes's books were out of print for a long time, but now they're all being reissued in paperback and as ebooks (Yay!), and I intend to read them all again. She's a good writer with attractive characters, vivid settings, and solid plots. Highly recommended.
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on August 27, 2015
Helen MacInnes wrote excellent suspense novels some of which were made into major movies. She lived through those times so we have a lens to view the past.
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on August 21, 2007
"The hallmarks of a MacInnes novel of suspense are as individual and clearly stamped as a Hitchcock thriller." BURLE WILKINSON N.Y. Times Book Review
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on August 23, 2007
"The hallmarks of a MacInnes novel of suspense are as individual and as clearly stamped as a Hitchcock thriller" Burke Wilkinson N.Y. TIMES BOOK REVIEW
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