Top critical review
3 people found this helpful
3 1/2 Stars...For Nostalgia's Sake
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.