Friday, December 28, 2012

Forgotten Books: Passage by NIght -- Hugh Marlowe

Harry Patterson has written under his own and several other names, the most famous of which is Jack Higgins.  The others include James Graham and Hugh Marlowe.  I've mentioned several times over the years that the first book I read by him was one of the Marlowe books, but a good many years passed before I learned that it was by Patterson.

Like a lot of Patterson's early books, this one's a thriller, it involves boats, and it's full of action: chases, torture, gunfights, escapes, twists, and turns.  It's set at about the time of its publication (1964), and Castro's taken over in Cuba, ruining Harry Manning's business and causing him and many others to flee.  Manning hangs around the Caribbean and takes tourists on his boat for spearfishing expeditions, but when a plane is sabotaged to kill a specific passenger and winds up killing a number of others, Manning gets involved.  He agrees to help the CIA find the culprit, and complications ensue.

I sometimes think that Patterson does everything wrong.  He uses adverbs.  He embraces cliches.   And it doesn't matter a bit.  Somehow it all works (at least for me), and I much prefer his early to middle-period books to the later ones that made him a zillionaire.  The early ones, like Passage by Night, are tough and fast and fun.  Some of the bad guys are really evil, while others turn out to be almost sympathetic.  Some characters you might think would be villainous turn out to be right guys.  I always get a kick out of these books.

Just as an aside, here's a wager Harry Manning would have lost:  "I'll have a small bet with you.  A hundred dollars American.  A year from today, Castro will no longer rule Cuba?"


George said...

I loved these early Patterson/Marlowe thrillers, too. Plenty of action in under 200 pages!

Deb said...

Wasn't Hugh Marlowe the actor who played Lloyd in "All About Eve"?

Unknown said...

Not to mention a scientist in EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS. But it was a different Hugh Marlowe.

Anonymous said...

Also starred as Jim Matthews in ANOTHER WORLD on NBC.

But, as Bill said, a very different Hugh Marlowe.