Friday, October 11, 2013

Forgotten Books: Sad Wind from the Sea --- Harry Patterson

Harry Patterson, also known as Jack Higgins, James Graham, Hugh Marlowe, and maybe others, has long been a favorite of mine.  Not his more recent novels, but his earlier ones, particularly the ones of what I think of as his "middle period."  I also like the ones he wrote very early in his career, though not quite as much, and there are a couple of them that I'd never read, including Sad Wind from the Sea, which up until now had never been reprinted in the U.S.  Then I saw a review of it on Ben Boulden's blog, and Boulden said that a print-on-demand edition was now available.  So I decided to get a copy.  I wound up buying an older paperback instead of the print-on-demand version, mainly because I like older paperbacks.

The story is vintage Higgins with a lot of the same elements of his other earlier work: a tarnished hero, a beautiful woman, a boat, some marshes, a good/bad foil for the hero, and a real meanie for the villain.  The setting is Macao and then Indo-China in the very late '50s.  Our hero, Mark Hagen, saves the beautiful Rose Graham from muggers, and it turns out that they were after information. Rose knows where her father sunk a load of gold in the Kwai marshes, "just over the border from Viet Minh into China,"  Not an easy place to get into and get out of.

Rose's father had a noble purpose for the gold, but Hagen, down to his last few petakas, wants it for himself.  So does a Russian, Kossoff, who's working for the Chinese.  And so does Charlie, the man who's going to help Hagen get his boat back and finance the trip.  Naturally things do not go well.

Patterson does a good job with the landscape and descriptions, as usual, and if there are lots of cliches, who cares?  I've said before that Patterson seems not to mind using them in the least and that he even embraces them.  And it works.  There's plenty of action and it's all good fun.  If you've enjoyed Patterson under any of his names, or if you just like adventure in general, you'll probably get a kick out of this one.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've pretty sure this was Patterson/Higgins' first published book.


Jeff

George said...

I read SAD WIND FROM THE SEA back in the Seventies. I think Jeff's right about this being Patterson/Higgins' first novel.

Rick Robinson said...

...must get old paperback...must get old paperback...

I think I read one Higgins years ago, but none by Patterson as by Patterson.

...must get old paperback...must get old paperback...

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Bill, Jack Higgins has long been my favourite too. If I were to make a list of 10 of my favourite authors, he'd be in the top three. I, too, like his early novels though I haven't read this book yet. He used to be quite popular among Indian readers in the 70s and 80s. I have a few of his books.

Unknown said...

For me, the '70s and '80s were his peak years. I can reread most of those books with pleasure.

Kent Morgan said...

I'm surprised to learn that you like old paperbacks, Bill. Do you keep a few in your office?

Ben Boulden said...

SAD WIND is Patterson's first published novel. It hit print in 1959. I also purchased an old paperback edition simply because I also like old paperbacks.

I also agree the 70s and 80s were Patterson's best years. I particularly enjoy his work between EAST OF DESOLATION (1968) THE EAGLE HAS LANDED (1975). Although I can read just about any Jack Higgins novel any time and enjoy it.

Ben

Unknown said...

Kent, I do happen to have a few old paperbacks. Not many people know that.

Ben, the books from that era are my favorites, too.

Fred Blosser said...

THE SAVAGE DAY, THE WRATH OF GOD, A GAME FOR HEROES, A PRAYER FOR THE DYING, THE EAGLE HAS LANDED, THE VALHALLA EXCHANGE, all top-notch. The first few Sean Dillon books were pretty readable, and a little pulpier than usual in a good way, but then the series got repetitive. The next-to-last one, or maybe next-to-next-to-last, didn't even read like Higgins' style, and I wondered if he'd taken a year off and farmed it out to somebody else. Another problem: after 1980 or so, he really started to recycle earlier stuff too much. DILLINGER is pretty much THE WRATH OF GOD with names changed.

Unknown said...

I haven't read a new one in probably 10 years. They just stopped being fun for me.