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Fear is the Key

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  2,428 ratings  ·  59 reviews
A classic novel of ruthless revenge set in the steel jungle of an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico – and on the sea bed below it. Now reissued in a new cover style.


A sunken DC-3 lying on the Caribbean floor. Its cargo: ten million, two hundred and fifty thousand dollars in gold ingots, emeralds and uncut diamonds guarded by the remains of two men, one woman and a very small b
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Paperback, 372 pages
Published May 4th 2004 by HarperCollins (first published 1961)
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Rajeev Singh
I read this book after having received it as Academic prize in school. It is one of the best MacLean books. I have read most of his work but few can match its suspense-element.MacLean has created many unforgettable hatchet-men to shoulder his villains and Royale is probably the best. I liked the description of him as a killer with eyes empty of all expression, the man who closed all the doors leading to Vyland by killing everyone that could lead up to him. His manner of whipping out his little p ...more
Paul
If you've never read Alistair Maclean, it will open you up to a whole new genre of thriller -- the post WW2 British yarn. A little more literary and less ribald than its American counterpart, but just as guilty a pleasure. It would be nearly impossible to offer an illustration of FEAR IS THE KEY without dropping a few spoilers, but it's a fine example of Maclean's work.
Kurt Reichenbaugh
I took the paperback along with me on a trip to Mexico for reading on the buses and plane. I was a fan of some of MacLean's novels when I was a teenager and reading this one reminded me why I liked them. This one had a lot of action and violence in it. And like other MacLean novels, most of the motives and details behind the caper are kept from the reader until opportune moments. This one has a millionaire daughter who is kidnapped by the hero, a hop-head sadist, a coldblooded killer, an arrogan ...more
Sidney
I've read opinions that early MacLean is better than later. I think that proves true in this tale from the early '60s, which is comparable in my opinion to The Satan Bug, one of MacLean's pseudonymous novels. (Originally anyway.) This one is a bit more rollicking than Circus, a later MacLean which I read shortly before this title where espionage and intrigue fill up the early pages while driving the plot toward an action conclusion. Fear moves in overdrive from the opening moments. After a poign ...more
Mihai Frenţiu
The twist of situation comes when you expect the least and the last scenes are actually pretty good. Lots of mistery.
Lenny Husen
THIS COVER IS SO FABULOUS.

The Handsome Hero stands firmly planted wearing a Chartreuse Sports Jacket, matching pants with slightly bulging crotch, with flaming bright red* hair and a scar** from his right eye to the angle of his right mandible, he is in the act of firing a Pistol with his Right hand, and clutching with his Left the terrified beautiful blonde Heiress with the skimpy green halter top and tight white pants. In the background we see an airplane that has been shot down heading in a
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Red Heaven
Being a big fan of MacLean and knowing I saw the movie years ago but not really remembering anything about the plot, I dived into this. It starts well with the hero breaking out of a courthouse in Florida, and when he subsequently gets captured at a motel, and taken to a bigshot oil baron's house, you sense the workings of the plot begin to grind. Unfortunately, the book gets bogged down with a lot of talking after a moonlight rendezvous with an oil rig. When the hero ends up at the diving bell, ...more
Norton Stone
I'm guessing MacLean wrote fast. There are so many holes in the plot that are fixed up along the way you just have to concentrate on the path ahead rather than the ground at your feet. The book was written in a different time when the world was transitioning from Cagney like gangsters and the dialogue can be a little dated as a result. The final sequence in the bathyscaphe (A diving submarine)is very good. This is a revenge thriller that moves quickly, is highly unlikely, but has an interesting ...more
Philip
If you've read much Maclean, the "twist" on page 80 won't be much of a surprise; but otherwise, 50 years on this remains a surprisingly strong book. Catches and holds your attention, and generally stands the test of time - with a few glaring exceptions, like references to George Raft, Little Lord Fauntleroy, and the fact that the whole plot revolves around trying to salvage "ten million dollars" - which comes off awfully Dr. Evil. And of course, there's the very unfortunate line, "you silly youn ...more
Päivikki
Something in Finnish too:

Ollaan Amerikassa suurkapitalismin pimeällä puolella, kovapintaisten gangsterien keskuudessa. Eräässä oikeussalissa syytetään John Talbot –nimistä miestä törkeistä rikoksista. Ilman ennakkovaroitusta John Talbot ampuu oikeussalissa poliisia, sieppaa erään vaaleaverikön kilvekseen ja syöksyy pakoon oikeuden puheenjohtajan omalla Chevroletilla. Koko maassa suoritetaan takaa-ajohälytys. Tytön nimi on Mary Ruthven – mutta kuka hän oikeastaan on? Ja kuka on loppujen lopuksi t
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Peter
I started reading Alistair MacLean back in the late 60s, when I was only nine years old. While I didn't like his novels written after the early 70s, I've re-read many times all his novels from the 50s and 60s.

Fear Is The Key is from the late 50s and while it was written during MacLean's heyday, it's not his best effort. I enjoyed the setting and the main character. Both had a lot of depth and MacLean seemed to particularly enjoy expanding on the descriptions of the section of Florida where the s
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Ekta
I loved this book from the moment I picked it up and until I reached the last page. It creates all the mystery in the beginning so that you are compelled to think about what will happen next when you are not reading the book. MacLean also gives room to his readers to actually get their horses running and think as to what might happen or who is the culprit or who is not, almost like he is with you, reading, discussing, and eventually leading you to the answer. A short read, but a damn good one!
David Rubin
Alistair Maclean is one of the great writer of thrillers in the post-WWII era. He wrote before the time when series were written with one hero and his cast of friends and enemies. This book, for example, involves the offshore oil industry and oil drilling from jack-up drilling rigs. The characters are well-fleshed out, except where facts are withheld to maintain dramatic tension; and the plot moves along with pretty good speed.

I recommend this book; it's an oldie but goodie!
Tim Corke
After an early uncertainty about the plot and the style, unfortunately they didn't get any better. Whilst an interesting enough plot and series of characters, Fear is the Key didn't really do anything for me. The writing was OK but was written simply and without a great deal of depth so didn't really feel like picking it up and reading a few more pages.

The role of Talbot and the development of the character was clear but for a long while it wasn't clear what was actually happening and how it wa
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Jim B
Feb 01, 2014 Jim B marked it as back-burner  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Audiobook read by Francis Matthews, whose British voice ably reportduced many voices, including American.) The story was obviously cleverly written and had a dry sense of humor. The book began with a criminal for a hero!

But even with all the unexpected turns to the plot, I didn't care about the characters or the story line, and found myself avoiding listening to it, so I haven't finished it. It may have been that I was too distracted to enjoy the book and should try again!
Joseph Grinton
I have recently been re-reading all the books by Alistair Maclean that I read when I was a teenager, which was all the ones he'd written up to Caravan to Vaccarès I think. After that they lost something and I stopped reading them. I wondered if it was because I'd grown up. Apparently not. They are still great fun to read. The characters are flimsy. The situations are corny. The vocabulary is predictable. But he has a great sense of humour and the plots zing along with not a word wasted. He has a ...more
Matt
Not the most enthralling Maclean novel, a strange somewhat unbelievable plot. Nevertheless, it still had the trademark suspense and thrills that made Maclean famous. I would recommend this book as your first Maclean novel if you want to read them all, as it may seem better when not compared toForce 10 From Navarone, When Eight Bells Toll, The Last Frontier or HMS Ulysses which are definitely my favourites so far.
Ambar Yadav
"Fear is the key" is a mindless action adventure thriller and does not purport to be anything more. The opening plot is slightly incredulous, what with the courthouse jailbreak, but that's acceptable and encouraged in the genre I suppose. And it is written well.
I will give credit to the author where it is due, the story is not overly predictable, an ailment that mindless action is usually crippled by and offers some fairly engrossing insights into the world of deep sea exploration without suffer
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Charles
Because no one writes this way

MacLean is one of the best writers of his or any genre. The stories he spins wrap you wholly into the world of his characters.
Vinny
What you always get from Alistair MacLean, twists and turns which keeps the pages turning.
Michael
Pretty good. A suspenseful thriller but it just lacked that little something which makes it a real edge-of-your-seat thriller. Probably one to loan from the library rather than buy.
Sagnick Sarkar
A thrilling and captivating story.
Vishal Vishu
Twist after twist after twist. A courtroom escape pre planned. The protagonist who is supposed to be a salvage expert ends up being the hero. The villain is confronted by a super villain. A mind gripping read. Alistair MACLEAN does it again
Vikas Pm
Sep 02, 2014 Vikas Pm added it
Recommended to Vikas by: bastian
Shelves: fear
lets seee
Cherry Williams
Bittersweet undercover investigation, exciting, tense, sad, punctuated by author's first person narrative.
L.A.
A dramatic Prologue opens up a big mystery as a plane is shot down because of something it is carrying. There is also a clever twist as you discover the true identity of the central character - known as Chrysler - but I found it hard to get past the man's arrogance. Yes it's part of the act but his attitude doesn't get much better once he reveals his true identity. I also found it tough to get past the sexist attitudes of the time, even though the female is pretty brave at one point.
Jeff Crosby
I have always held this MacLean novel in high regard. It falls into his early period of great work--late 1950s-early 1960s. It is very typical on some levels and unique on others. This hero is a little less lethal than some, but he is very compelling. You know his motive from the beginning, but in the end, revenge is somewhat hollow. Solid action, good characters. Vintage MacLean. This was fun to re-read.
Paul
I really enjoyed this book. Reading some of the criticism makes me laugh. A lot of people take things far too seriously. If you are looking for a quick read full of witty humour pick this book up.
Choccygrl
Struggled to finish this. Found it difficult to connect with the narrator. To the point where I really didn't care about the outcome. Very downbeat ending.
Found the long sentences distracting and various descriptions needed reading more than once to clarify their meaning.
All in all not one of my favourite books by this author. Not by a long shot.
Becky
Off and running from the first paragraph - precisely why I his books. At some point (won't give away when) you realize that there is a certain amount of staging that was done before you entered the story on page 1. Interesting backdrop and a buffet of rogues and scalliwags! Does not disappoint -
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Alistair Stuart MacLean (Scottish Gaelic: Alasdair MacGill-Eain), the son of a Scots Minister, was brought up in the Scottish Highlands. In 1941, at the age of eighteen, he joined the Royal Navy; two and a half years spent aboard a cruiser were to give him the background for 'HMS Ulysses', his first novel, the outstanding documentary novel on the war at sea. After the war he gained an English Hono ...more
More about Alistair MacLean...
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“She had the best kind of courage, or maybe the worst kind, the kind that gets you into trouble.” 16 likes
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