He was born on 21 April in Shettleston , Glasgow , the third of four sons of a Church of Scotland minister, [4] but spent much of his childhood and youth in Daviot , ten miles south of Inverness. He learned English as a second language after his mother tongue, Scottish Gaelic. He was first assigned to PS Bournemouth Queen, a converted excursion ship fitted for anti-aircraft guns, on duty off the coasts of England and Scotland. There he saw action in in the Atlantic theatre , on two Arctic convoys and escorting aircraft carrier groups in operations against Tirpitz and other targets off the Norwegian coast. He took part in Convoy PQ 17 on Royalist.

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Shelves: thriller , books-i-own , across-canada-challenge , fall-shelf I decided to read Athabasca , to represent the province of Alberta, in my Read Across Canada challenge. This was not the case. I forced myself to wade through the first pages, and was sorely tempted to quit, which I rarely do. I needed this book for my challenge. The main characters are a trio of I decided to read Athabasca , to represent the province of Alberta, in my Read Across Canada challenge.

The main characters are a trio of oil-field sabotage investigators who are called in to deal with threats of sabotage to tar sand oil fields near Fort MacMurray, Alberta and to a pipeline which carries oil to Alaska. So, two countries-Canada and the United States are involved, as are two oil companies, along with two sets of employees.

In those first slow-moving pages, MacLean must set the scene in terms of providing the reader with page after page of technological information and jargon, regarding how the tars sands are accessed, how the pipeline works, and how the gigantic oil fields are laid out, over several thousand square miles.

He introduces a plethora of characters, many of them minor. I found it difficult to keep all of them straight. On a plus side, the tar sand fields of northern Alberta, in the depths of winter, make for an interesting location for solving sabotage and murder.

Extreme temperatures, snow, and blowing snow that quickly covers an outdoor crime scene, or hides a body, are tough to deal with and cover evidence quickly. For those who may find themselves left outside for any length of time, the cold can be deadly. The remoteness of the crime sites and the need for helicopters to travel about in these difficult conditions, suggest that the threat is coming from the inside.

This book was written long before , when the world had a different take on security and threat levels to key resources such as the oil supply coming from these locations in North America. Who has to gain? The answer is OPEC". Later on a character says, "there are some certifiable loonies who would stop at nothing to achieve their own end". The last half of the book improves, but only marginally. There are a few exciting moments, but the resolution of the crisis is anticlimactic.

My connection with the main characters was limited, and only on a couple of occasions was I really concerned whether one of them survived. All in all, not what I was expecting from this author.


Alistair MacLean






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