Title: The Golden Rendezvous
Author: Alistair MacLean
MacLean, Alistair (1962). The Golden Rendezvous. Garden City, NY: Doubleday
Date Updated: November 17, 2015
Alistair MacLean, one of the premier adventure storywriters, is at his best when writing first-person narratives that put his protagonists in perilous situations, and then push them to the limits of physical, emotional, and psychological endurance. His early novels are exciting, full of cliff-hanging situations, and rife with clever “detection” in the classical sense: MacLean plays by the classical detective rules, placing all of the clues in front of the reader, and, at his most cunning, daring the reader to figure out who the criminal mastermind is.
But the detection, and the undertones of “espionage”, are superficial elements used to keep the narrative moving briskly along between action set pieces that pit the protagonist against impossible odds and, very often, against the severest imaginable environmental extremes. By these standards, The Golden Rendezvous is one of his better books.
It is an excellent blend of mystery, suspense, clever bluffs and double bluffs, self-deprecating wit, action, and our protagonist’s determined efforts to overcome painful injuries and antagonistic environmental extremes.
A luxury cruise ship is hijacked at sea by a master criminal whose intention is not a simple ransoming of the wealthy hostages on board. Exactly what his goal is forms part of the mystery that is left for our hero, the injured first officer of the ship, John Carter, to ferret out, and to undermine.
The Golden Rendezvous finds MacLean at near-top form. The book does not have quite the verve of The Satan Bug, The Dark Crusader, or When Eight Bells Toll, but it comes close. Which, at the high level that MacLean delivers excitement and page-turning suspense, makes for outstanding adventure story reading.