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Puppet on a Chain

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  2,888 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
From the acclaimed master of action and suspense. The all time classic. Paul Sherman of Interpol's Narcotics Bureau flies to Amsterdam on the trail of a dope king. With enormous skill the atmosphere is built up: Amsterdam with its canals and high houses; stolid police; psychopaths; women in distress and above all - murder.
Mass Market Paperback, Fawcett Crest 2-1501-6, 224 pages
Published 1983 (first published 1969)
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(showing 1-30)
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Nandakishore Varma

I had read this book in the early eighties - I don't remember anything of the book other than the title. But the title suddenly flashed into my mind today. I wonder why?

Dec 30, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
There are other Maclean books I prefer but this is a little classic. A book is forever set in its time and setting these may change but fine writing endures. So here you do not have the gadgets of Bond or the ingenuity of Bourne but in Paul Sherman you have a determined investigator who remains credible in all his efforts, in an account that carries a threat and conveys a sense of danger still to a modern day reader. There is a menace in the pages that can disturb, a beautiful backdrop of Amster ...more
Michael Laflamme
Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Breathtaking Suspence

This novel starts with a bang then proceeds at breakneck speed to a dizzying climax. This book should come equipped with seatbelts. This was my introduction to this author's work. If his other books are this good he'll have a new fan.
Eric Wright
Set in Amsterdam and dealing with the drug trade, Paul Sherman of Interpol speaks in a voice similar to Agent 007. Too much description, telling and exaggerated action.
VijayaRaghavan S N
I never took the saying 'Do not judge a book by it's cover' even for it's face value. But, after this book, I have come with peace with the very same saying. Never before have I ever read or even seen a book which was as shabby as this one. It's shabbiness was understandable because it was taken out of a public library. But I failed to account for the punch that very same book packed.

As said above, this book was taken from a public library. Not by me buy my dad on my request that I need a thril
Anne Earney
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, europe
Another I read because it's set in Amsterdam. Suspense is not my preferred genre - I'm not sure why, but I've never loved the genres of suspense or mystery. So I find it difficult to get into under the best of circumstances, and with this book, I felt only a mild sense of curiosity. When the whole thing was explained at the end, that was interesting in an intellectual way, but not exactly satisfying. On another note, this is possibly one of the most sexist novels I've ever read (at least in the ...more
Jeff Crosby
This is another MacLean I have elected to re-read after forty years. My primary memories are the puppet images and the rather gristly murder of one character who is pitchforked to death. Being largely a police procedural and themed on drugs, I was curious to see if this story would hold up or seem dated. While it does not equal MacLean's spy thrillers of the late 1960s, the story still works. In many ways it is very typical MacLean. It is also worth reading.
Jun 24, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The European spy thriller without computers or cell phones. Phone booths, sending coded messages, attention to detail and working by your wits are tools from the past. MacLean allows Major Paul Sherman to use these tools to combat the narcotics trade and it's associated murders in the streets of Amsterdam.
Huw Evans
Aug 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, thriller
One of Macleans best stories which is remorseless in its plot line. He was prolific but few of his stories are as good as this. The characters are not wholly beleivable but the plotline is. A great relief read, which will pass the time on a plane or beach trip.
Maria Stancheva
Много шум за нищо ... Не обичам криминалета, но тази книга определено си е популярна и доста хвалена, по тази причина бях изненадана колко клиширана, наивна и скучна е.
Grace Hagen
Sep 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was creepier than most of his books that I've read, but it was still really good. Very dark, scary characters. The ending was a bit weird, but not completely unexpected.
Feb 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure
I really liked this Maclean book but can't remember why.
R.E. Conary
British Interpol agent Major Paul Sherman bulldozes through Amsterdam in his quest to uncover major drug dealers. That he manages to survive his headlong rushes into danger is more luck than pluck. The body count is high and the villain predictable. Not among MacLean’s best, but the description of the ravages of heroin use provide gritty realism to an otherwise mediocre bit of action-escapism.
Leigh Abernethy
Dec 20, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't enjoy this book. The sentence structure is poor and makes it difficult to understand what's happening. It is very far fetched in places. Struggled to finish it.
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great Book,action from the first page to the last.
Highly recommended .
Apr 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Scott Holstad
Three stars or four? Three or four? How about three and a half?

This Alistair MacLean book is an odd one. It's darker than his other books, and even creepy. It's about Paul Sherman, a British Interpol agent, in Amsterdam looking for the source of drug trafficking into Britain. Aided by the Dutch police and by two good looking female assistants, he's almost immediately thrown into the thick of things when the person he was coming to meet is gunned down at the airport in his sight. After that, he's
John Freeman
Sep 08, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sixties
My love of reading was shaped, in part, by the books that resided on my father’s paperback novel shelf—John D. MacDonald, Leon Uris, James A. Mitchner…and of course, Alistair MacLean. So it was with a strong sense of nostalgia that I picked up one of the few books by him I hadn’t read, Puppet on a Chain.

I was disappointed.

One disappointment was the main character, Major Sherman, an INTERPOL agent investigating narcotics trafficking in Amsterdam. He’s a typical MacLean character in that he is cyn
Sep 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In these days of Internet and high technology, it’s a pleasant change to read a spy thriller, without all these complexities – thankfully no use of super-computers or cell phones, but what is referred to as ‘old school’ tactics, where the hero had no organisation or back-up (other than a pair of dumb assistants, who needed everything to be spelled-out).

Rather surprising, when the book starts off with a description of one of them (Belinda) as being intelligent and loaned by the French secret ser
May 23, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller

Right now I'm in the process of re-reading my small collection of MacLean's books. Last time I read them was probably 10 years ago... They are, unfortunately, badly translated (and I want to get my hands on originals), which I see now and which is kind of distracting. But it's not that bad. Anyway, to the book at hand...

I remembered "Puppet on a Chain" as a very disturbing story. I could vividly picture the three brutal deaths and it became the only MacLean's novel that I'd read only once
Mustafa Özçınar
It was over 25 years ago when I first read that book in my language Turkish and I had fond memories. The grizzly and strange scenes of murder were still vivid in my mind. So when I saw it in a bookstore in Paris two years ago I bought it again and read it in the original language it was written. I had high hopes. I was a bit disappointed. The first person viewpoint feels a bit forced in some places. In other words some scenes in the plot seems to be planned that way just to make sure our hero se ...more
Jun 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fast fun exciting read - and a good way to spend a three hour flight.

Of course it isn't realistic. Of course it could never happen like that. Rather like Fleming's Bond books, it was exciting escapism for the sixties and seventies. If you wanted serious research you had The Day of the Jackal, but if you wanted something faster paced with treachery and action, you had MacLean. It took me back to watching the film in a double bill with When Eight Bells Toll at 13. This was the darker and more vi
May 25, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Puppet On A Chain is an example of one of MacLean's later efforts. It's not a great entry. Too much sarcasm (which for me is a lot). Many of the scenes where the protagonist is in danger, just don't come across as such. It was later made into a movie. Can't comment on that.

Reviewed by, David Feeney, author; Terror on the high seas
Asisha Joseph
Jul 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For Maclean's fans, this is definitely a must-read. A bit gorier than most, though (the death of a character is rather vividly described; made me VERY VERY UPSET). Protagonist is extremely sarcastic and snarky. I LOVED it. In fact if it weren't for said gory scene, this would be my favourite Alistair MacLean novel. And that's saying something, since I've read almost all of them.
Shannon Blake
Apr 09, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What a load of shit.
This book definitely makes the bottom five. The plot was minimal, the 'action scenes' sucked. It seemed as though the protagonist would be in the middle of something, maybe a chase scene then suddenly he'll be eating breakfast. He was also an ass to his friends and just a terrible person.
Oct 10, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book overall. It contains one of Alistair Maclean's iconic scenes (the pitchfork scene, not to spoil it too much), but some of the techniques MacLean uses to maintain suspense are annoying. In this particular book, the overt withholding of critical information from the reader is used overmuch. Still fun, though.
Nov 17, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

Weak action, foolish protagonists, stupid police, even stupider plot with everyone turning into a villain in the climax.

Maybe it was some other Maclean who wrote gripping thrillers like the Satan Bug and the Golden Rendezvous.
David Darson
Feb 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful girls, drugs, murders, boat chase, etc, all in the thrilling ride of a lifetime, in the hippie capital of the world - Amsterdam. No one sings a better ode to Netherlands and its people than MacLean in his most groovy, yet deadly, work.
Margo Iñigo
Apr 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think Puppet on a Chain is a great read, though most of the suspense occurs in the second half of the book. So far I prefer Puppet on a Chain to Private Berlin; this book is far from the modern, though sanguine, book by James Patterson, all in Alistair MacLean's own style.
Tanja Pedersen
Aug 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The main character is like the classic James Bond, he has funny lines. There were bits about the ending that Im a bit unsure about what means, but when I picked up the book I almost couldnt put it down. Its so action filled and it just keeps going. So Good.
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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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“We know about this deliberate policy admittedly as effective as it is suicidal – of endless provocation, waiting for something, for somebody to break. But please, Major Sherman, please do not try to provoke too many people in Amsterdam. We have too many canals.” 0 likes
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