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Breakheart Pass

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  2,059 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
A magnificent tale of heart-stopping suspense from the highly acclaimed master of the genre.

The Rocky Mountains, Winter 1873…

One of the most desolate stretches of railroad in the West. Travelling along it is a crowded troop train, bound for the cholera-stricken garrison at Fort Humboldt. On board are the Governor of Nevada, the daughter of the fort’s commander and a US mar
Paperback, 192 pages
Published June 6th 2005 by HarperCollins (first published 1974)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Had this on my "to be read" shelf for ages. A fast paced and action fueled western/thriller/mystery. Most of the story unfolds on a relief train travelling to the isolated, cholera stricken Fort Humboldt, but all is not as it seems.

Had an inkling very early on as to the motives of the assembled characters. It was clear cut as to who the "bad guys" were going to be. However from a purely entertainment point of review well,...... I was entertained. The story does move along at breakneck speed. Cer
Mar 20, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western
Please read my complete review at Casual Debris.

When I was a kid in the mid-to-late 1980s my parents were among the last in the neighbourhood, perhaps even the western hemisphere, to purchase that bulky hunk of metal known as a video cassette recorder. Popularly known at the time as a VCR, it was a piece of medieval technology that could both record and play back movies using a cheap, slim strip of plastic encased in a large rectangular hard plastic casing (known as a cassette). Oddly, at times
Nov 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
It's a good story, but the quality of the writing is abominable. It reads like a first draft.
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western
"Ο ριψοκίνδυνος", εκδόσεις ΒΙΠΕΡ.

Αυτό είναι το τέταρτο βιβλίο του Άλιστερ Μακλίν που περνάει στη λίστα με τα διαβασμένα και μπορώ να πω ότι είναι καλύτερο από τα υπόλοιπα.

Έχοντας δει την ταινία λίγες μέρες πριν, θυμόμουν πολλές σκηνές και ήξερα τι θα γίνει, αλλά ήθελα οπωσδήποτε να διαβάσω το βιβλίο. Οι διαφορές ελάχιστες και όχι τόσο σημαντικές, σίγουρα όμως ο σκηνοθέτης έκανε καλή δουλειά, η μεταφορά του βιβλίου στην οθόνη ήταν αξιόλογη.

Η υπόθεση απλή, ένα τρένο διασχίζει τα Βραχώδη Όρη το 1
Laura Verret
Apr 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Sure, it’s an army train – U. S. Marshall Nathan Pearce knew that before Colonel Claremont refused his request to hitch a ride to Fort Humboldt to arrest Sepp Calhoun. Arresting criminals isn’t the army’s business and Claremont wants no part in it. But when Pearce arrests a man – John Deakin – who is guilty of crimes against the people and the army, Claremont grudgingly allows them onto his train.

As the train hurtles through the uninhabited wilderness towards the remote outpost, it becomes immed
Aug 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book takes place on an Army train in the American West in the 19th century after the Civil War. The train, under the command of Colonel Claremont, is full of relief troops and supplies, headed to Fort Humboldt, a remote mountain fort in Paiute Indian territory. The train also has on board a Marshall who is escorting a captured Federal prisoner named John Dekin. On its journey, there will be murders, conspiracies, sabotage, ambushes, rooftop fights, and Indians seeking revenge. The action is ...more
An entertaining thriller. Almost every scene is tense from start to finish. A part of the book is a brilliant whodunnit and then it's out and out action. It's my first time reading a novel with a western american setting, you know, saloon bars, gunslingers, etc. and I enjoyed it very much.

This is also my first time reading Alistair MacLean and I like his writing style. Going to read more of his books if they promise the same amount of thrilling action all through the book.
Lenny Husen
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
3.6 is the average rating and exactly right. This was fun, and I can see why it was made into a movie. The female character was less weak than MacLean's usual useless beauties and actually helped the situation. I couldn't put it down.
Definitely a fun beach/pool/recuperating from back injury book.
Thomas Strömquist
One of his very best efforts! Set in the wild west in the 1870's, MacLean's most common hero, the few-worded hard-ass fits unusually well here. I watched the Bronson-movie more times than I can count and I'm sure I got the two mixed up in my head, so I won't ensnare myself in any details here. It takes place on a train, mostly. Fun!
Jul 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Alistair MacLean is my favorite spy novelist from the 1950s and 1960s. Although this one, veers off into new territory by taking place after the civil war. Still suspenseful and exciting. Still fun. Very nostalgic. I cut my teeth on these when I was in Junior High/High School.
Ajitabh Pandey
Dec 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, action
Very good, no non-sense plot. The pace increases as the story proceeds. The book has a slow start and the author takes time to introduce characters which helps in the overall understanding of the plot.
Robert Grant
A quick little action thriller from MacLean. I used to read some of his books back in the 70s and this was one I missed. Not too bad. Writing is a little stiff by todays standards and it lacks some punch but a nice throwback read.
Aug 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Actually 3.5 stars...not bad, but not up to par with some of MacLean's best. The characters weren't as developed and the plot a bit thin...but still better than most current adventure texts.
jerry gage
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great story

Lots of twists and turns. Keeps you wondering who is the real hero until the last few chapters. Another good read by A. Maclean.
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting departure

This novel is an interesting departure from the typical MacLean stories, mainly because of the setting. It was a quick and entertaining read, and the withheld information was not nearly as annoying as in some of his earlier works.
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
MacLean is a mixed author for me, with some books I love, and some books I hate, and this is one that occupies the middle space, so it's OK as a quick, cheap read when you're on a long car ride or something; otherwise, Breakheart Pass isn't special, and quickly forgettable. It has some nice dialogue, but I just felt that the characters were all rather flat and undeveloped. Still, and OK read, which I give 5/10, or in the case of Goodreads: 2/5. Please visit my blog for more Reviews, Parent Guide ...more
As much as I love Alistair MacLean, I'm afraid this book is one of his worst. Cluttered with adverbs and entertaining a somewhat predictable plot, with thin and stereotypical characters and poor dialogue, it reads like a first draft (typos included), and a sad one at that.

It could never live up to the standard set by his other works, such as HMS Ulysses, San Andreas and Ice Station Zebra, not to mention the Navarone duo (The Guns of Navarone/Force 10 from Navarone).
Tyler Cole
Feb 27, 2015 rated it liked it
The story starts with a troop train traveling through the Rocky Mountains in the winter of 1873 with a destination of a remote Army outpost in Nevada that is supposedly plagued with cholera. On the train are relief troops, medical supplies, other provisions and a wanted outlaw in the custody of a United States Marshal. Once the train gets underway, everything changes. The story takes several twists and turns filled with action and adventure. No one, with the exception of few, are what they appea ...more
Mark Borchers
Jun 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
How could a Scotsman possible write a decent Western? I was dubious, and therefore my critical faculties were on hair trigger as I read through the first couple of chapters of the book. Nevertheless, I became more and more absorbed in this suspenseful tale of a train ride through wintry wilderness to an Army fort stricken with illness. Something is amiss, someone is not what they seem, and MacLean is such a master of plot that you can't figure out how it's going to end. Yep, I'm recommending peo ...more
Jack Broscie
Apr 14, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure
Vroeger was ik een groot fan van Alistair MacLean (vooral de eerste boeken), dus deze heb ik herlezen.
Viel mij knap tegen. Het hangt van onwaarschijnlijkheden en een teveel aan intriges aan elkaar. Taalgebruik is zwak, achtergrond van niemand komt ook maar enigszins uit de verf (alle personages zijn stereotype en zo plat als een pannenkoek), bepaalde tekstfragmenten herhalen zich, soms zelfs op dezelfde bladzijde.
Hier heeft de schrijver zich met een Jantje van Leiden afgemaakt; goed dat er toen
Mar 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
This happens to be my first one on the Wild West and I must say it leaves me intrigued. Picturesque, sometimes grotesque, this would perhaps be one of his best works. The long, complex sentences told with a monotonicity that is matched only by the Macleanean skill of keeping the reader engrossed, are an added bonus.
If you love the West, the Indians and outlaws, have a read. Satisfaction guaranteed.
Kate Millin
Sep 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this thriller, which had a few twists and turns in it that had me surprised, but which worked really well. The action all takes place on a train which is on its way to a remote fort through some mountains in the snow. The train is carrying troops, a doctor, priest, colonel, governor and his niece, and are joined by a lawman and his prisoner. As the train goes through there are various incidents which increase the tension of those on board. A quick , easy read.
Feb 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
A fast-paced Western thriller. A train's steaming toward a remote Nevada fort, seemingly on a rescue mission. A signature MacLean twist plays a huge part in this tale that's filled with double crosses, action and fun. I liked this considerably better than Circus, which was published a year later in a period, I know, that is not considered MacLean's best.
J.T. Fleming
May 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book held no surprises, probably because I've read it several times and seen the movie more than once. Still, I thought the story was good. The plot is okay, and while I would have liked more character development, the characters were believable enough. I recommend it if you're looking for a light western adventure.
Derek Durant
Sep 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is probably my favourite of Alastair Maclean's later books. It was a book I downloaded to my Kindle and it is great that otherwise out of print books can now be available. I just wish they would make a better job of producing the books as this one was littered with typos.
JR Bricksfield
I really enjoy MacLean’s books, and Breakheart Pass is another gritty adventure story. Set in the American West aboard a train, it has a cast of characters that you think John Wayne would be among. It’s relatively short, but just a fun read.
Just after the Civil War, an Army relief train speeds to a fort in Indian territory which is reportedly in the midst of a cholera epidemic. As the train approaches, mysterious accidents occur and tensions rise. This one is quite suspenseful and the movie version with Charlie Bronson is fun too.
Nov 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
Pulled this off the shelf to re-rad before sending it to the used bookstore. I remembered this as being a better read. Skip it and look for the movie, starring Charles Bronson. One of those rare cases where the film surpasses the source material.
Arvind Vaidyanathan
Sep 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book! Maclean at his best once again! He moves from post-war Europe to 19th century USA with effortless ease. Every single element of the story is so perfect that one wonders how a man can conceive to write such stuff! It keeps you guessing and wanting you to finish the book. A must read!
Jun 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller
Really enjoyed this one. It may be a bit on the short side but its action packed and MacLean really draws the atmosphere of the great frontier. Some argue that his later novels are 'weaker' but I don't really buy into that. The movie's good as well!
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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 Honour ...more
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