Friday, 25 September 2015

The novels of Jack Higgins

A brief post on the work of my favourite author for Friday’s Forgotten Books over at Patti Abbott’s blog Pattinase.

A couple of days ago, I visited my favourite book haunt in the suburb where I live and found, not to my surprise, a whole new pile of secondhand paperbacks. I bought two novels by my favourite author Jack Higgins (Harry Patterson) for Rs.25 each, less than 50 cents. I have read more than half of Higgins’ books and as some of my blog friends will concur, his earliest novels, up to The Eagle Has Landed (1975), are his best. Thereafter, the quality of his work has somewhat declined, though I still enjoy reading his mild thrillers.

I like the way Jack Higgins tells his stories — the style is clean and uncomplicated, and conversational; there is minimum description of people and places; the heroes are usually mercenaries with a heart of gold, and quite endearing; and the plots are simplistic but not unbelievable. He often makes covert operations look ridiculously easy; where the guardians of justice often get in and out of unlikely places and extreme situations without so much as a scratch. In The White House Connection, for instance, Sean Dillon, one of his most popular characters, walks into the White House as if he were entering his own home. Some of the heroes are reformed IRA hitmen and work for British Intelligence as nameless operatives.

What I like about his battle-scarred heroes is the way he romanticises them — I’d describe them as poets with a gun in their hand.

These were the two titles I added to my collection of Jack Higgins.


Sheba, 1994

The Lost Temple of Sheba is not just a biblical legend. A German archaeologist has found it. The Nazis have claimed it. And one American explorer has stumbled upon their secret — a plot that could change the course of World War II. 

The year is 1939. An American archaeologist named Gavin Kane is asked to help a woman search for her missing husband.When Kane follows the man's trail into the ruthless desert of Southern Arabia he makes two shocking discoveries. One is the legendary Temple of Sheba, an ancient world as fantastic as King Solomon's Mines. The other is a band of Nazi soldiers who plan to turn the sacred landmark into Hitler's secret stronghold…
HarperCollins


The President’s Daughter, 1997

“Twenty years after his affair with a beautiful Frenchwoman in Vietnam, Jake Cazalet finds out he has a daughter. He must keep it a secret—but years later, when he is President of the United States, someone discovers the truth. And when his only child is kidnapped by a terrorist group, he must count on British operative Sean Dillon and FBI agent Blake Johnson to find her.”
Amazon

24 comments:

  1. Spot on with your analysis of Jack Higgins work, His work was at its best through The Eagle Has Landed. I particularly like his work from East of Desolation (1968, I think) to The Eagle Has Landed.

    I haven't read The President's Daughter, but Sheba is great.

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    1. Thanks, Ben. I'm looking forward to reading a couple of his novels. I usually read a few every year.

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  2. I've liked everything I've read by him, but that's only 4 or 5 books. I have several more though and will read them over time. Definitely a good writer.

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    1. Charles, it surprises me to know there are many Higgins' novels I haven't read; others I'd like to read again.

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  3. I read plenty of Jack Higgins novels back in the early 1970s. I loved those books! Higgins is a born storyteller!

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    1. I agree, George. His appeal lies in the simplicity of his prose.

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  4. I really must get into his stuff again, it's been ages but your enthusiasm always makes me think I should dig through the piles of books in my loft - thanks Prashant!

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    1. Worth it, Sergio. I read a Higgins every now and then.

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  5. I bought 4 of his books last Spring after reading a post by Bill Crider, but have yet to try one.

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    1. Richard, most of Higgins' novels can be read in one or two sittings.He has some loyal fans including me.

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  6. Higgins' work has certainly been influential, Prashant. And you're right about his writing style and his ability to create memorable characters.

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    1. Margot, Higgins was one of earliest thriller writers I read in the eighties, and I haven't stopped. I find his novels entertaining.

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  7. I have been saying this for a while but I really have to read something by Jack Higgins soon. Most of the copies I have are e-books and that never encourages me to read a book. Just last weekend I got a paper copy of The Eagle has Landed, so I will fit it in the next few months.

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    1. Tracy, you'll enjoy "The Eagle Has Landed" though not so much its sequel "The Eagle Has Flown." It has some memorable characters like Liam Devlin who appears in less than five of Higgins' novels, though I have always wondered why.

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  8. I've read a couple of Jack Higgins books, Prashant, and enjoyed them, but years ago. The only one I remember is THE EAGLE HAS LANDED which I love and consider a classic. SHEBA sounds good but I admit I haven't kept up with Higgins.

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    1. Yvette, Higgins was fairly popular until "The Eagle Has Landed" made him famous. I picked up "Sheba' because I hadn't read it.

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  9. I'll go along with Yvette and not keeping up.

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    1. Oscar, I haven't been keeping up with Higgins as much as I'd like to.

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  10. Not read him for many years and then it was just a one-off, so I need to give him another go.

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    1. Col, he is not everyone's cup of tea. I know readers who think his stories are mediocre and not quite in the same class as, say, Len Deighton, Robert Ludlum or Frederick Forsyth. I disagree, of course.

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  11. I've not read him, though obviously am familiar with the name. I need more of a review from you!

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    1. Moira, I'll review one of his books soon. I have got quite a few I haven't read yet.

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  12. Of those two, I read Sheba some time ago now and felt it was pretty good - I think it may be a reworking of an old story but not 100% sure of that.
    Colin

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    1. Colin, Jack Higgins is my favourite author. I like the way he writes his thrillers and spy fiction. His plots are simplistic, sometimes unbelievably so, and most of his lead characters are mercenaries and hopelessly romantic. I have a pile of his novels, some of which I haven't read yet.

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