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Fear Is the Key
Alistair MacLean
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Fear Is the Key

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  3,220 Ratings  ·  78 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 ...more
Mass Market Paperback
Published by Fawcett Books (first published 1961)
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Mar 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Στα νύχια του φόβου", εκδόσεις ΒΙΠΕΡ.

Ενδέκατο βιβλίο του Άλιστερ Μακλίν που διαβάζω, μου φάνηκε και αυτό εξίσου συναρπαστικό και ψυχαγωγικό με όλα τα προηγούμενα. Άλλωστε, είναι από τους αγαπημένους μου συγγραφείς στο είδος της περιπέτειας και των ψυχροπολεμικών θρίλερ, οπότε δύσκολα θα με άφηνε παραπονεμένο. Το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο έγινε και ταινία, με πρωταγωνιστή τον Barry Newman (Fear Is The Key, 1972), η οποία όμως δεν είναι και τόσο γνωστή. Θα την ψάξω πάντως.

Ο πρωταγωνιστής και παράλληλα
Oct 06, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jan 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-books
Actual rating: 3.5.

This book was recommended to me by a very good friend, who said it was her favorite MacLean book. Since I really enjoyed Where Eagles Dare, I thought I'd give it a go, and it was quite good. Still like WED better (maybe because it's set in WWII) but Fear is the Key was definitely worth my time. Favorite character? Jablonsky. And now I want to re-read FITK sometime so that I can piece everything together the way it REALLY was. ;)
Jun 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Feb 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure
MacLean wrote excellent, clean adventure novels set during WWII or the Cold War. Full of tough good guys and nasty baddies they always have some twists and are solid escapist reading. There's usually a woman who may not be a great fighter but is courageous and smart, too. This tale of revenge is especially clever - a good way to while away a cold, grey afternoon.
Thomas Strömquist
Fast-paced, surprising twists and for the most time utterly implausible. This book is however, with a few others, responsible for me being a reader in the first place and I really should read it again one of these days. Or maybe not.
Mihai Frenţiu
May 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The twist of situation comes when you expect the least and the last scenes are actually pretty good. Lots of mistery.
Hanna Siikilä
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
200 ensimmäistä sivua en yhtään tiennyt mitä ihmettä tässä kirjassa tapahtuu, siis hyvällä tavalla. Jälleen hieno kirja MacLeanilta, silti Vain kotkat kuuntelevat on vielä lemppari.
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good solid read with a fantastic ending... A bit slow in places, but not enough to put you off... Glad I read it again
Lenny Husen
Feb 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Sep 04, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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
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
Jan 10, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jonathan Kirby
Dec 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remember reading this book more than four decades ago. Fast-paced, thrilling, a stunning opening. I decided to read the book online; it took a whole day. The book merits 5 stars. Superb. Nobody writes thrillers better than Alistair Maclean.

Imagine, I read a book that I read sometime around 1968-69. That's more than four decades ago. I'm a teenager then; probably 15 or 16. I read the book today in 2015 - reading it online is painful, but what can a man do? - and I can feel the pace, the verve,
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
Oct 30, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Joseph Grinton
Jun 05, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recent-reads
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
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
May 18, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england, thriller, crime
"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
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
May 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the classic, action-packed, 'one man takes on a load of bad guys and wins' story, much loved by Hollywood film companies. It is a good one however, with lots of plot twists and challenges for our hero to overcome, and at least he hurts when beaten up and gets tired sometimes.
The author has a certain whimsical humour in his writing, which adds an enjoyable counterpart to all the gung-ho stuff.
Feb 20, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Enoni, joka ei omien sanojensa mukaan juuri kirjoja lue, suositteli tätä minulle (ja lainasi suomenkielisen painoksenkin). Vaikkei jännityskirjallisuus ole ihan minun heiniä, luin kuitenkin. Alun suoraviivainen toiminta oli tylsää, mutta loppuvaiheessa, kun tarinan monikerroksellisuus alkoi paljastua ja eri ihmisten syyllisyyttä alettiin punnita, kiinnostuin enemmän. Ja sitten kirja jo loppuikin.

Ei minun kirjani, mutta jos tykkää jännityksestä, niin olihan tämä ihan hauska.
Jeff Crosby
Dec 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jim B
Feb 01, 2014 marked it as back-burner  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Audiobook read by Francis Matthews, whose British voice ably reproduced 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!
L.A. Larkin
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.
Sep 15, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was not my favorite Alistair MacLean book. The story was ok, but I felt there was a problem with the narrative since the first part of the book is presented under false pretenses. Somehow it seems worse than an unreliable narrator when the lie the narrator is perpetrating exists only to preserve an artificial sense of suspense. It was still entertaining, but marred by this flaw in the telling. Just OK.
David Rubin
Jan 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
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.
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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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“She had the best kind of courage, or maybe the worst kind, the kind that gets you into trouble.” 27 likes
“Women, I thought: if they fell over a cliff and thought there was company waiting at the bottom, they'd comb their hair on the way down.” 3 likes
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