Title: Puppet on a Chain
Author: Alistair MacLean
MacLean, Alistair (1969). Puppet on a Chain. Garden City, NY: Doubleday
Date Posted: January 9, 2017
Review by Thomas Lask
They [Puppet on a Chain and The Ghost’s High Noon, by John Dickson Carr] make a perfect duo, one would think, for aficionados. Carr to rack your brain, MacLean to chill your spine. Alas, only MacLean lives up to his billing, but he does so in spades. Puppet on a Chain is one of the best in the Green-Ambler-MacIness [sic. Should be MacInnes] tradition, that this operative has come across. It’s a top-drawer effort filled to bursting with murder and mayhem, grit and gore, as Major Sherman, an Interpol narcotics sleuth, tracks down and breaks up a tough, resourceful and ingenious-minded gang of smugglers operating in and around Amsterdam. If you have any red corpuscles in your blood, you will find your heart pumping triple time as Sherman moves in for the confrontation. The writing is as crisp as a sunny winter morning, and MacLean has provided a travelogue for a part of Amsterdam the ordinary tourist is not likely to see—and a good thing, too. He has also included a pagan rite that will send the amateur anthropologist back to his books and the rest of us cowering in our Morris chairs. It’s not good, clean or funny, but you won’t quickly forget it.