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When Eight Bells Toll

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From the acclaimed master of action and suspense. The all time classic. Millions of pounds in gold bullion are being pirated in the Irish Sea. Investigations by the British Secret Service, and a sixth sense, have bought Philip Calvert to a bleak, lonely bay in the Western Highlands. But the sleepy atmosphere of Torbay is deceptive. The place is the focal point of many myste From the acclaimed master of action and suspense. The all time classic. Millions of pounds in gold bullion are being pirated in the Irish Sea. Investigations by the British Secret Service, and a sixth sense, have bought Philip Calvert to a bleak, lonely bay in the Western Highlands. But the sleepy atmosphere of Torbay is deceptive. The place is the focal point of many mysterious disappearances. Even the unimaginative Highland Police Sergeant seems to be acting a part. But why? This story is Alistair MacLean at his enthralling best. It has all the edge-of-the-seat suspense, and dry humour that millions of readers have devoured for years.


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From the acclaimed master of action and suspense. The all time classic. Millions of pounds in gold bullion are being pirated in the Irish Sea. Investigations by the British Secret Service, and a sixth sense, have bought Philip Calvert to a bleak, lonely bay in the Western Highlands. But the sleepy atmosphere of Torbay is deceptive. The place is the focal point of many myste From the acclaimed master of action and suspense. The all time classic. Millions of pounds in gold bullion are being pirated in the Irish Sea. Investigations by the British Secret Service, and a sixth sense, have bought Philip Calvert to a bleak, lonely bay in the Western Highlands. But the sleepy atmosphere of Torbay is deceptive. The place is the focal point of many mysterious disappearances. Even the unimaginative Highland Police Sergeant seems to be acting a part. But why? This story is Alistair MacLean at his enthralling best. It has all the edge-of-the-seat suspense, and dry humour that millions of readers have devoured for years.

30 review for When Eight Bells Toll

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sylvie

    My first book of the year and my second book by Alistair MacLean. I loved this just as much as his other book that I read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Checkman

    Back in the early eighties, between my 12th and 15th years, I read numerous Alistair MacLean novels as well as Jack Higgins, Colin Forbes, Hammond Innes, Desmond Bagley and Ian Fleming. Couldn't get enough of the British suspense novelists.Then I got older. My perspective and tastes changed and I stopped reading them. Eventually I got rid of the books and ,in many respects, forgot about them. A few weeks ago I came across a mint copy of When Eight Bells Toll in a local thrift shop. The askin Back in the early eighties, between my 12th and 15th years, I read numerous Alistair MacLean novels as well as Jack Higgins, Colin Forbes, Hammond Innes, Desmond Bagley and Ian Fleming. Couldn't get enough of the British suspense novelists.Then I got older. My perspective and tastes changed and I stopped reading them. Eventually I got rid of the books and ,in many respects, forgot about them. A few weeks ago I came across a mint copy of When Eight Bells Toll in a local thrift shop. The asking price was a staggering 25 cents. I opened the book and read that terrific first page - which I hadn't fogotten. I plunked down the quarter and read the book in a matter of a few hours.It's a fast read, but it's an engrossing read. Much to my surprise the novel is as good as I remember it. That doesn't happen very often. I like this book. Yes it is dated. Technology, the roles of men and women, ect. You have to read it as a period piece and move on. Just sit back and enjoy the roller-coaster ride that is When Eight Bells Toll . To use a rather dated expression this is a real crackerjack adventure novel. Great fun. I'm going to have to look for a few more of MacLean's novels.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Wales

    What a good story! From the first page there is action that only stops long enough to make one hold his breath. Nonstop! And besides, how refreshing to read a rugged spy novel without any profanity! I had forgotten that they exist. I'll have to read a few more from MacLean. What a good story! From the first page there is action that only stops long enough to make one hold his breath. Nonstop! And besides, how refreshing to read a rugged spy novel without any profanity! I had forgotten that they exist. I'll have to read a few more from MacLean.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Larry Loftis

    Outstanding! When you hear the name Alistair MacLean, you think of "Where Eagles Dare" and "The Guns of Navarone." For some reason, perhaps because of the movies made on the other two books, this fabulous novel by MacLean has been lost in history. And that's a shame because it is on the level of "Where Eagles Dare." Like other authors of his generation, MacLean frequently uses attribution adverbs (i.e., "he said angrily") and verbs ("he coughed"). Aside from that, this work is flawless. MacLean Outstanding! When you hear the name Alistair MacLean, you think of "Where Eagles Dare" and "The Guns of Navarone." For some reason, perhaps because of the movies made on the other two books, this fabulous novel by MacLean has been lost in history. And that's a shame because it is on the level of "Where Eagles Dare." Like other authors of his generation, MacLean frequently uses attribution adverbs (i.e., "he said angrily") and verbs ("he coughed"). Aside from that, this work is flawless. MacLean is the master of pace, reversals, and mystery, and "When Eight Bells Toll" doesn't disappoint. Just when you think you have it figured out, you don't. His prose is splendid as well, and he occasionally spices a sentence or two with beautiful alliteration. On top of that, he accomplishes what most writers struggle with: a killer opening and ending. If you enjoy thrillers, especially military/espionage thrillers, this book is a must-read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Soumik Ghosh

    My friends sometimes wonder how I know about hollow point and narrow bullets, and the first page of this book is the cause. It starts with an vivid, but accurate description of the Peacemaker Colt and what effects it should have when it's trained on a man. The pace picks up from there and doesn't stop till the end. I was expecting what I call the "MacLean effect" to be diminished since I was re-reading this book, and I am not a teenager any more. Turns out that the old man's still got it. This ti My friends sometimes wonder how I know about hollow point and narrow bullets, and the first page of this book is the cause. It starts with an vivid, but accurate description of the Peacemaker Colt and what effects it should have when it's trained on a man. The pace picks up from there and doesn't stop till the end. I was expecting what I call the "MacLean effect" to be diminished since I was re-reading this book, and I am not a teenager any more. Turns out that the old man's still got it. This timeless, fast-paced, modern-day pirates on the sea action-thriller is filled with memorable characters. Still not as good as Night Without End or Guns of Navarone, but good enough to satisfy your action-thriller craving.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cphe

    There is espionage on the high seas and Philippe Calvert of the British Secret Service investigates. This is an engaging and solid espionage novel. It is a little dated now but still remains an action packed read. I really enjoyed Calvert's sense of humour and there were some very amusing quips. A well presented cast of characters, good dialogue and some wonderful and fast paced action scenes. A rollicking good yarn. There is espionage on the high seas and Philippe Calvert of the British Secret Service investigates. This is an engaging and solid espionage novel. It is a little dated now but still remains an action packed read. I really enjoyed Calvert's sense of humour and there were some very amusing quips. A well presented cast of characters, good dialogue and some wonderful and fast paced action scenes. A rollicking good yarn.

  7. 5 out of 5

    G.M. Burrow

    I remember liking the first scene. It had a Colt .45, after all. And the dry, understated prose was funny--for a while. Then I wanted to shrug my shoulders and be free of it. MacLean should have tried short stories. He's easier to stomach in small doses. I remember liking the first scene. It had a Colt .45, after all. And the dry, understated prose was funny--for a while. Then I wanted to shrug my shoulders and be free of it. MacLean should have tried short stories. He's easier to stomach in small doses.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Glenn

    A very good story - I hadn't read it for a while, but well worth reading again. Very enjoyable... A very good story - I hadn't read it for a while, but well worth reading again. Very enjoyable...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Shelley

    It was ok, not too good but not too bad either

  10. 5 out of 5

    rabbitprincess

    3.5 rounded up

  11. 4 out of 5

    B.E.

    Not my favorite MacLean, but still pretty darn good. He seemed a little long-winded in places here and there, so I had to do some 'scanning past' in this book where I don't usually have to with his other books. Then again, a 'not favorite' MacLean is better than a lot of other books. Not my favorite MacLean, but still pretty darn good. He seemed a little long-winded in places here and there, so I had to do some 'scanning past' in this book where I don't usually have to with his other books. Then again, a 'not favorite' MacLean is better than a lot of other books.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laura Verret

    When I picked up this book three years ago, I promised myself that I would never read it. Now, why would I do a crazy thing like that? Because I wanted to be able to keep it with a clean conscience. I’d never heard of the book before and had no clue what it was about. But its beautiful blue cover with gold gilding demanded that I add it to my collection, and I was not going to read it so that it could stay there. (The cover picture to the right is not the same edition as my copy.) But then, I saw When I picked up this book three years ago, I promised myself that I would never read it. Now, why would I do a crazy thing like that? Because I wanted to be able to keep it with a clean conscience. I’d never heard of the book before and had no clue what it was about. But its beautiful blue cover with gold gilding demanded that I add it to my collection, and I was not going to read it so that it could stay there. (The cover picture to the right is not the same edition as my copy.) But then, I saw a few other books by the same author, this Alistair MacLean, at another library sale. They looked interesting, so I decided to research his style. What I discovered is that he is the author of the popular adventure stories Where Eagles Dare and The Guns of Navarone which are set during World War II. I began to wonder if maybe Where Eight Bells Toll had a similar theme. At last, I capitulated. I read the book. The Story. Calvert's never liked staring down the barrel end of a Colt .45. He knows too well how they shatter bone and flesh. Yet, once again, he’s faced with this gun. Calvert knew he would have to play a dirty game when he planned to board and search, the Nantesville that night. He knew that the sinister crew would think nothing of slitting his throat if they found him poking around, collecting evidence against them. Yet he had to do it, had to get the information off of them. There were too many millions – and lives – at stake. But what are the stakes that Calvert and his enemies are playing for? What drove Calvert to board the Nantesville that night? What does he expect to find? And will he survive the visit? You’ll have to read When Eight Bells Toll to find out! Discussion. Or not. I think I’ll just make this section one big huge spoiler. : ) When Eight Bells Toll had a brilliant opening. Our hero is staring down a gun – we don’t know who’s on the other side of the gun, where Calvert is, why he’s there, or what he’s fighting for. We only know that he is a second away from death and, in the scene that ensues, that his enemies want very badly to kill him. It was a real clincher – I instantly realized that the stakes were mile high and that the hero was badly outnumbered by an organized gang. The scene made me feel acutely the importance of the mission and its success. It left me asking a million questions… And here’s where When Eight Bells Toll took a dip. From the first moment I was dying to know all. But MacLean chose to string me along, not revealing the motive behind Calvert’s actions until page one hundred fifty-nine of the novel. Over three-fifths of the story was already behind me before I was able to make sense of any of it. And by that time, I was tired. I was tired of reading a story in which the main character had been nearly killed a half-billion times for no stated reason. I was tired of watching the main character snuff out the lives of his bloodthirsty opponents, again for no stated reason. Tired of being shut out from the dread secret. Tired of being treated like an outsider. And then, I was told the stakes. By that time, I was expecting the fate of the world to rest on Calvert’s shoulders. (After all, if it’s THAT big and THAT secretive, surely it must be a case of diplomatic proportions.) I was, frankly, disappointed. Oh, sure, it’s big, but it had no immediacy. And then there was Calvert, himself. A cold, cynical man, Calvert lives in a dog-eat-dog world where you take out your enemy before he takes you out. Now, I believe in self-defense. But Calvert’s attitude was hard, very hard. He approached killing in a cavalier, who-cares-so-long-as-I-don’t-get-killed manner. As he says, he feels no compunction over the lives that he takes. He is not moved at the thought of snuffing out a life, even one which was intent on killing him. He takes a cool-boy attitude towards the whole idea. Calvert seems to take pride in the fact that he’s a disillusioned, worldly-wise man. As the story began, it was interesting to have for a protagonist a man not given to melodrama and theatrics. But over time, it began to feel as though his very lack of theatrics was, itself, theatrics. Conclusion. Not a necessary or really recommended book, n Eight Bells Toll nevertheless peaked my interest enough to keep an eye out for other books by Alistair MacLean in the hopes that not all of his books are as language filled or strung out. And yes, n Eight Bells Tolll continue to grace my shelf of pretty books. :) Read my Cautions at The Blithering Bookster. http://blitheringbookster.com/home/20...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bob Hernandez

    liked the story, took a while get to plot rolling and needed some explaining at the end of the book to wrap up the story. still liked the secret agent stuff.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Aaditya Thakkar

    When Eight Bells Toll Thriller genre is something which is my cup of tea. Alistair MacLean is a magnificent storyteller, has wrote many thrillers in 20th century and the one I read first of his is, “When Eight bells toll”, thrill and suspense in the title itself. Plot and Characters: The whole story plot is set entirely at the sea. There are many cases of hijacking of ships and pirating of gold bullion off the western highlands of Scotland. Investigations are being made by British Secret Service. When Eight Bells Toll Thriller genre is something which is my cup of tea. Alistair MacLean is a magnificent storyteller, has wrote many thrillers in 20th century and the one I read first of his is, “When Eight bells toll”, thrill and suspense in the title itself. Plot and Characters: The whole story plot is set entirely at the sea. There are many cases of hijacking of ships and pirating of gold bullion off the western highlands of Scotland. Investigations are being made by British Secret Service. The story is starring a british secret-service agent, Peter Calvert, the main character of the story. He is assigned a task to investigate the matter by Rear-admiral Sir Arthur Arnford (mentioned as Uncle Arthur throughout the book). The whole operation is divided into 10 scenes starting from the Monday dusk to the Friday dawn. The central character, Peter Calvert has got a great sense of humor. He is the brains and hands of the whole operation. Uncle Arthur's role is to fulfill the needs of Peter Calvert, whatever he requires – helicopters, men, etc. There are some side characters, whose roles are also very well sketched. Like, a rich Greek tycoon Sir Anthony Skouras and his female companion, former actress Charlotte Meiner, Peter's companion Hunslett, etc. Story: The beginning of the story is of kind which every thriller lover would want. It's very well written and creates a great suspense. Peter is in front of the Peacemaker Colt gun, which he would never like to be, as he knows very well how it shatter bones and flesh. People are trying to kill Peter Calvert, but why? Who? We even don't know who is on the other side of the Colt. There are so many questions juggling in the mind when you complete the first page of the book. But as the story goes on, many things get more and more clear. Peter Calvert plans to board and search, the Natesville on the first night of his operation. He seems to be liking to play with his own life in any circumstances, and he plays his game very well. He also stabs his opponents in their backs bloodthirstily. His attitude is shown to be who-cares-so-long-as-I-don't-get-killed. He never feels any sort of compunction over the lives that he takes. He likes snuffing around criminal's lives. Complements: The whole story goes like a roller coaster ride and you enjoy each and every part of it. It's a fast reading, full of suspense and thrillers and a great writing too. I can say that the story is able to put visualizations of the whole picture in your mind. Some quotes are very humorous and well written as well. My favorite ones are: - “No matter how clever and strong and ruthless you were, sooner or later you would meet up with someone who was cleverer and stronger and more ruthless than yourself.” - “and I had no doubt they had gone on being as still and watchful as ever, but they hadn’t been watchful enough and now they were only still” Complaints: It has too much technical descriptions which seems boring sometimes. For examples, the description of Peacemaker Colt, boat, its engine, batteries etc. Only experts of those field would understand that. But yeah, I strongly feel that peacemaker colt was the only thing which could bring interest towards the story in my mind. One more thing I would say is that story seems bit dated. It takes time getting to the point of anything. It's a fast read, no doubt, but what I felt is, till the first three fifth part of the book, I was not totally clear about what/why is all these happening. Why the narrator is killing those enemies very ruthlessly! There is a lot of secretive messing about the boats done by Peter, but half the times I didn't get the purpose behind that, which got cleared in the later part of the book. Also, there are some references to a wince-inducing attitude towards women, which is something that is very dated. Conclusion: I would surely recommend this book, it's worth reading. It's well written (I would say well pictured), easy to understand language, too much suspense, excitement, light humor and thrill.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Adventure story. Hard to follow at times as an audio book, but I enjoyed all the plot twists.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marina Finlayson

    This book is so old that my copy has pictures from the movie on the cover, showing Anthony Hopkins looking young and dashing. James Bond-like, even. I didn’t realise he was ever leading man material – I’ve only seen him play old or, at best, middle-aged characters. The story begins rather like One Shot by Lee Child, with a detailed description of a gun. The writing is more lyrical and the sentences more traditionally structured than in One Shot, but there is still a lot of gun-related information This book is so old that my copy has pictures from the movie on the cover, showing Anthony Hopkins looking young and dashing. James Bond-like, even. I didn’t realise he was ever leading man material – I’ve only seen him play old or, at best, middle-aged characters. The story begins rather like One Shot by Lee Child, with a detailed description of a gun. The writing is more lyrical and the sentences more traditionally structured than in One Shot, but there is still a lot of gun-related information. We are nearly at the bottom of a very wordy first page before it’s even mentioned that this particular gun is pointing right at the first person narrator. Talk about burying the lede! This is one of the things that make this book feel its age. It takes its time getting to the point of anything in a way that thriller writers these days just don’t do (at least in my limited experience). We don’t even find out what the whole point of the book is till about three-quarters of the way through. Till then our hero, a secret service agent on a mission in the remote harbours of Scotland, does a lot of secretive messing about on boats, but we don’t know why. A couple of other things that date the book are pop culture references that mean nothing any more, and a rather wince-inducing attitude to women on the part of our hero. The book is not without its charms, though. The narrator has a wry humour that’s quite entertaining. Discussing two dead colleagues, who in life had the still watchfulness common to men in their profession, he says “and I had no doubt they had gone on being as still and watchful as ever, but they hadn’t been watchful enough and now they were only still”. But I have to admit, I wouldn’t have finished the book if I hadn’t been reading it for a challenge. The plot was well-structured, if a little predictable in places, but somehow the writing held me at a distance. I had trouble caring what happened to any of the characters, and could easily have set it down at any time. I freely admit I’m probably not the target audience, and I don’t read many thrillers, but it was more than that. One Shot kept me turning the pages all right. This one was perhaps too much of an intellectual puzzle, just not compelling enough on an emotional level. Quite possibly the fact that we didn’t find out what was going on till late in the piece was part of the problem. If you don’t know what the stakes are, how can you care what happens? I’d probably recommend you watch the movie instead. If nothing else, you get to see Anthony Hopkins with hair!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Hari Krishnan Prasath (The Obvious Mystery)

    ARE YOUR PARENTS AVID READERS? My dad was. He used to read a lot. Whenever he sees me with a book in my hand, he comes over asks about that book and then recommends a few of his own. That is how I came across When Eight Bells Toll by Alistair MacLean. The book like any other Maclean book has a mystery that needs to be solved and there is a hero who solves it. That is the gist of most books out there. The only factor that makes a difference is the writing style and this is where Maclean excels! Wh ARE YOUR PARENTS AVID READERS? My dad was. He used to read a lot. Whenever he sees me with a book in my hand, he comes over asks about that book and then recommends a few of his own. That is how I came across When Eight Bells Toll by Alistair MacLean. The book like any other Maclean book has a mystery that needs to be solved and there is a hero who solves it. That is the gist of most books out there. The only factor that makes a difference is the writing style and this is where Maclean excels! When Eight Bells Toll is a first-person narrative that tells the story of agent Phillip Calvert on his mission to find out the reason for missing cargo ships in the Irish Sea. His mission leads him to a small port town of Torbay. From there the real mission starts. Like all thrillers, there are moments when you feel like gasping and awing and unlike all thrillers, every instance or turning point of the story seems real. What adds to my wonderment is the fact that the entire timeline of the book is just a short while and the writing elucidates each and every moment of it and you are aware of every tiny detail and you feel like the book has lasted for hours. Honestly, this was to play both the boon and bane of the booking. When I started reading it, I did not like how the pace was set and it was almost added to my “I’ll read it later” pile. But I went on and found that this pace has its own positives. I learned so much about copters, ships and shark boats in this book and what interests me more is the fact that they did not bore me yet again. If you guys like thrillers and are looking for a good one. I say the same thing my dad said. Give it a try. You can always put it down if you don’t like it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Neil Fulwood

    In 1963, following the publication of ‘Ice Station Zebra’, MacLean took a three year sabbatical from writing to run a hotel. When that venture proved less than successful, he resumed his career as one of the world’s top-selling thriller writers. Lazy critical thinking has it that the classics we written between 1955 and 1963, while everything from 1966 onwards represented a gradual downswing in the quality control department. And while pretty much everything from that earlier period is top-notch In 1963, following the publication of ‘Ice Station Zebra’, MacLean took a three year sabbatical from writing to run a hotel. When that venture proved less than successful, he resumed his career as one of the world’s top-selling thriller writers. Lazy critical thinking has it that the classics we written between 1955 and 1963, while everything from 1966 onwards represented a gradual downswing in the quality control department. And while pretty much everything from that earlier period is top-notch, MacLean still produced terrific thrillers well into the 70s. His comeback novel, published in 1966, was ‘When Eight Bells Toll’ and it’s one of his absolute best, a tense novel of cat and mouse in the Western Highlands of Scotland, benefitting from one of the best opening sequences in his entire canon, a caustically cynical first person narrative, a cluster of memorable set pieces and the usual retinue of twists, turns and double-crosses. In short, everything you want from an Alistair MacLean novel and none of his customary weaknesses: no ham-fisted dialogue, no purple prose and no unconvincing romantic subplot. Just the good stuff, for a joyous and breathless 220 pages.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dark-Draco

    Well, this definitely throws you straight into the action - so much so that I wondered if it was a sequel, or if my copy was missing a few pages! But unlike a modern thriller that goes in for loads of background, this just gets right into it. The novel opens with our hero being confronted on a boat - at this point we have no idea who anyone is or why, so it's a full on brain blast to keep up with it all. But basically it's about a lot of gold being stolen ... pirated from the ships carrying it ne Well, this definitely throws you straight into the action - so much so that I wondered if it was a sequel, or if my copy was missing a few pages! But unlike a modern thriller that goes in for loads of background, this just gets right into it. The novel opens with our hero being confronted on a boat - at this point we have no idea who anyone is or why, so it's a full on brain blast to keep up with it all. But basically it's about a lot of gold being stolen ... pirated from the ships carrying it near the Scottish coast. The British Secret Service have got involved, trying to find out who is behind it, where the gold is now and what's happened to the crews of the missing ships. There were points that made me smile, especially when dealing with the 'weaker' sex, and this is probably only where the book shows its age a little. It was also very refreshing not to have the action peppered with bad language. I was entertained with the story and actually enjoyed not knowing a thing about the backgrounds of any of the characters!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gerard

    Phillip Calvert is a secret agent investigating piracy and the loss of several million in gold bullion and gems in the North Atlantic. Facing a dismissal for the untimely death of two of his colleagues on the mission, Calvert has 48 hours to recover the gold before he is taken off the job. However, the pirates and their conspirators have plans to make Calvert's termination somewhat more final. I read this novel as I recall enjoying Alistair Maclean's novels as a child. This was apparently his fir Phillip Calvert is a secret agent investigating piracy and the loss of several million in gold bullion and gems in the North Atlantic. Facing a dismissal for the untimely death of two of his colleagues on the mission, Calvert has 48 hours to recover the gold before he is taken off the job. However, the pirates and their conspirators have plans to make Calvert's termination somewhat more final. I read this novel as I recall enjoying Alistair Maclean's novels as a child. This was apparently his first book after an attempted career as a restauranteur. Let's just say this book is a recipe for disaster. The plot construction was clumsy. For a plot-driven novel, it relies heavily on the main character recounting events and deductions to other characters. The main character is a nauseating chauvinist, dating the novel. That's probably as far as the character development goes. Two stars. Avoid.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Geoff Dickinson

    I first read When Eight Bells Toll in 1971 as a teenage boy around the time the film of the same title was released. I enjoyed it so much I read it again. And again. And again. Time moved on and a year or so ago I happened to come across a Kindle Edition. I read the story again. And again. And again. So what is about this novel that makes me do this? It is very readable and the setting of the story is the Isle of Mull and a very thinly disguised Tobermory, a part of Scotland which I love. Althoug I first read When Eight Bells Toll in 1971 as a teenage boy around the time the film of the same title was released. I enjoyed it so much I read it again. And again. And again. Time moved on and a year or so ago I happened to come across a Kindle Edition. I read the story again. And again. And again. So what is about this novel that makes me do this? It is very readable and the setting of the story is the Isle of Mull and a very thinly disguised Tobermory, a part of Scotland which I love. Although I know the plot backwards now I still enjoy the dialogue, the descriptions, Maclean's easy to read style and Calvert, the hero's sardonic, self deprecating observations. This book is brought out when I need a quiet, undemanding read. All in all an excellent, fast paced action mystery. Now where did I put my copy? Time for another reading I think.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Karl Schaeffer

    I believe I picked this up off a free book pile. An original issue paperback, thin with small type. But's a a MacLean and it had a helicopter on the cover. Our hero is a James Bond type, an utterly dead-pan very British undercover agent. He is pitted against a wily Greek shipping magnate who is hijacking gold laden ships in the Irish Sea. Of course, there's a beauty woman of mystery involved. Not tongue in cheek at all. Some gritty stuff takes place, as well as amazing and heroic narrow escapes. I believe I picked this up off a free book pile. An original issue paperback, thin with small type. But's a a MacLean and it had a helicopter on the cover. Our hero is a James Bond type, an utterly dead-pan very British undercover agent. He is pitted against a wily Greek shipping magnate who is hijacking gold laden ships in the Irish Sea. Of course, there's a beauty woman of mystery involved. Not tongue in cheek at all. Some gritty stuff takes place, as well as amazing and heroic narrow escapes. Also, now looking back, an interesting mid-century period piece. Very similar to modern spy adventures without all the computer/satellite/data analysis. An enjoyable read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Wilde Sky

    A secret service agent, Phillip Calvert, looks into the disappearance of a ship laden with gold bullion around the Western Isles. Is it related to the disappearances of numerous other vessels, some carrying valuable cargoes, some simply working / pleasure vessels? The beginning of the book starts with Calvert deeply involved the plot and it takes a hundred odd pages to understand what is happening. The story proceeds at a cracking pace and it’s an engrossing read. I would recommend it to anyone w A secret service agent, Phillip Calvert, looks into the disappearance of a ship laden with gold bullion around the Western Isles. Is it related to the disappearances of numerous other vessels, some carrying valuable cargoes, some simply working / pleasure vessels? The beginning of the book starts with Calvert deeply involved the plot and it takes a hundred odd pages to understand what is happening. The story proceeds at a cracking pace and it’s an engrossing read. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys crime / spy thrillers.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nick Duretta

    I'd never read any MacLean, so when this came my way I thought, 'Why not?' Well, now I know. It's not that MacLean isn't a muscular and propulsive writer. It's that this kind of story seems horribly dated these days--the flawless hero (James Bond stand-in Philip Calvert), the flawed leading lady, the byzantine criminal scheme involving the piracy of gold bullion and other treasures. It might have mad a good film but in print comes across as creaky and ultra-contrived. I'd never read any MacLean, so when this came my way I thought, 'Why not?' Well, now I know. It's not that MacLean isn't a muscular and propulsive writer. It's that this kind of story seems horribly dated these days--the flawless hero (James Bond stand-in Philip Calvert), the flawed leading lady, the byzantine criminal scheme involving the piracy of gold bullion and other treasures. It might have mad a good film but in print comes across as creaky and ultra-contrived.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    I can't say this is an 'edge-of-the-seat thriller' more a light-hearted jaunt. I admit a few people are murdered, there are a few twists and the pace is relentless. I did enjoy the dark humour from the narrator and main character, Philip Calvert, but I just couldn't take him seriously as a ruthless special agent. I have read a few MacLean books, but this is not one of his best. I can't say this is an 'edge-of-the-seat thriller' more a light-hearted jaunt. I admit a few people are murdered, there are a few twists and the pace is relentless. I did enjoy the dark humour from the narrator and main character, Philip Calvert, but I just couldn't take him seriously as a ruthless special agent. I have read a few MacLean books, but this is not one of his best.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Garth Mailman

    An action-adventure spy thriller. This is old-school story telling redolent of the English class system and dour Scottish humour. Took me a while to warm to the tale told from Philip’s point of view. He understates his own abilities and is full of praise for those of the helicopter pilot and the nautical abilities of the Australian sailor.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Timothy

    It's been a long time since I read this, but there was a time I was hooked on Allistair MacLean books. They were decent suspense mysteries and I remember this one stood out as among my favorites. I can't say exactly when I read this so I'm taking a round number guess. It has to be close. It's been a long time since I read this, but there was a time I was hooked on Allistair MacLean books. They were decent suspense mysteries and I remember this one stood out as among my favorites. I can't say exactly when I read this so I'm taking a round number guess. It has to be close.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Fredrick Danysh

    Someone is hijacking ships and no one knows who or why. An under cover aboard one ship is found murdered and part of their handling team meets the same fate. Written in Alistair MacLean usual gripping style.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ram

    Just finished reading "When Eight Bells Toll" a gripping sea thriller from Alistair Maclean, who is one of my favorite writers. Maclean unleashes the suspense in the end but keeps letting in the secret bit by bit as the story unfolds, the big one coming in the end. Just finished reading "When Eight Bells Toll" a gripping sea thriller from Alistair Maclean, who is one of my favorite writers. Maclean unleashes the suspense in the end but keeps letting in the secret bit by bit as the story unfolds, the big one coming in the end.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Roy Higgins

    You can't go far wrong with an Alistair MacLean novel. A mens adventure novel, not something that women would like. I have his complete works of Alistair MacLean and I intent to read them all in the fullness of time. You can't go far wrong with an Alistair MacLean novel. A mens adventure novel, not something that women would like. I have his complete works of Alistair MacLean and I intent to read them all in the fullness of time.

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