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The Black Shrike Mass Market Paperback


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Fawcett (June 12, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449205738
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449205730
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,969,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Tung Yin VINE VOICE on November 1, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Black Shrike" (published in England as "The Dark Crusader") starts as a typical Alistair MacLean thriller, but by the end, it's bleaker than usual. MacLean originally wrote this novel (and "The Satan Bug") under a pseudonym, so he may have been experimenting a bit with his formula.
Anyway, like most MacLean books, the plot is the most important element. The hero is typical MacLean: tough, resourceful, but possessed of emotions such as fear, and gifted with a self-deprecating sense of humor. A number of top nuclear physicists have disappeared, so Benton is set up with a cover guaranteed to attract attention from the wrong elements. Sure enough, he and Marie, another agent posing as his wife, are kidnapped and brought to a seemingly deserted isle. He is forced to work on a secret missile -- the Black Shrike. Can Benton save the day?
The one thing I could never figure out about this novel was, how much physics did Benton know? Was he a physicist who went to work as a secret agent? Or was he a secret agent who was given a crash course in physics?
Not that you'll be thinking about that question as you're reading; the book is thrilling.
Along with "The Guns of Navarone," "Where Eagles Dare," "The Golden Rendezvous," and "The Golden Gate," this is one of the best MacLean novels.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. S. Thurlow TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 5, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Black Shrike" was one of Alistair Maclean's earlier novels, published under a pseudonym, and Maclean was still experimenting with his writing style. Nevertheless, it holds up well as an exciting story with the kind of twisting Cold War spy plot that would become Maclean's hallmark as a writer.

Bentall, a British physicist seconded for intelligence duties, is sudenly recalled to London from a mission involving the theft of information about British missiles. His boss has a new assignment for him that that involves partnering with a female agent, Marie Hopeman, and travel to the South Seas. Neither the female agent nor the travel are quite as they seem. The plot becomes even more complicated when Bentall and Hopeman finally arrive at the missile test range in the South Pacific and find themselves falling in love even as they try to unravel a plot to steal highly classified missile technology.

The novel really has two endings, one in which Bentall must chose between saving Hopeman and preventing the theft of a missile, and a second in which Bentall finally unravels the last details of the plot with his boss. Although not a standard literary device, the double ending works extremely well and packs considerable emotional punch.

This novel is highly recommended to fans of Alistair Maclean and to the general reader looking for a slightly unorthodox spy story.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mammoth Films on June 25, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This novel is my 2nd favorite that MacLean wrote (so far). There is plenty of adventure as the story takes many twists and turns. The character of Professor Witherspoon is the one who makes the story great, but there are others too. Fans of MacLean won't be disappointed with this novel nor will one who enjoys reading spy/adventure novels.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By s.ferber on July 11, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Oh, the magic and the mystery of the printed word! Isn't it remarkable how an old paperback book--a mass of thinly cut wood pulp and ink marks--can sit ignored on a bookshelf for many decades, gathering dust, and yet, when ultimately opened and perused, maintain its ability to convey information and transport the reader? So I was reminded yet again, when I recently read the 95-cent Fawcett Gold Medal edition of Alistair MacLean's "The Black Shrike," which had been sitting on my shelf since around 1968, when I purchased it after seeing the filmization of MacLean's "Ice Station Zebra." Initially published in 1961 in Britain under the title "The Dark Crusader" (which sounds more like a Batman title to me!) and with the MacLean pen name of Ian Stuart, it was the author's seventh novel, out of an eventual 28, and, preceding MacLean's 1962 offering "The Satan Bug" and 1963 offering "Ice Station Zebra" as it did, demonstrates what a terrific roll the Scottish author was on at the time.

In this gripping spy thriller, British physicist turned secret agent John Bentall tells his tale. (It is an interesting choice of names. "Bentall" seems to suggest some physical damage, which the character certainly undergoes by the story's end, and if the name does indeed rhyme with "mental"...well, anyone who does what this character does during the course of the novel would HAVE to be! And if John Bentall shares the same initials as the more famous Ian Fleming secret agent, it would seem a mere coincidence; this agent is not nearly as smooth an operator, although, as events prove, just as ruthless.) It seems that his superior, Col. Raine, "a small dusty man in a small dusty room," had recently given Bentall a particularly nasty asssignment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bluewater cruiser on November 28, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was published in 1961. Fleming on #9 (Thunderball) by this time and the Secret Service, beautiful girl, rocket, weapon, etc gendre were established. This is a good plot (though lacking in scientific reality, as a physicist) and I give it a 4.
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