Alistair MacLean’s Death Train by Alastair MacNeill
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Bad. Stupid. Dumb. Poorly conceived and poorly written. It started off rather clumsily, but I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and continue. And at times I was glad I did. At other times, I wanted to chew my own head off. I can’t believe I finished this trash. Alistair MacLean was a master. Alastair MacNeill is an imbecile. I don’t know how much of the book MacLean had written at the time of his death, but I’m willing to bet MacNeill wrote about 95%+ of this. MacLean couldn’t possibly have written such junk.
It’s a new world calling for new types of security, a type involving world cooperation. Thus, UNACO is born. The United Nations Anti-Crime Agency is known only at the top levels of the United Nations and has unlimited powers and funding and it pulls in its agents from the top intelligence agencies around the world.
Enter George, Sabrina, and CW. These are our heroes. They’re sent to Europe to look for six kegs allegedly containing weapons grade plutonium on a train. They’re to find the kegs, and find out who’s behind this nefarious plot. CW goes to Germany where it seems the plutonium originated from. He poses as a journalist and is met by the PR director of a big nuclear plant who is, of course, hot and who blows his cover on day one. But oh no — she’s trapped and in trouble and her office is bugged! She needs saving. Someone follows them and attacks her. Someone is after CW. What will happen?
Meanwhile Sabrina and George get on the train. George is a gruff asshole who hates Sabrina because she’s a rich, hottie princess who, he thinks, got the job through her father. However, she’s the best shot in UNACO and that’s how she got the job, and she’s a sweetie who we all fall in love with. Sickened yet? On the train, George meets someone who has constructed a game that he agrees to play. It involves putting your hand in constraints that contain electrical voltage and putting your hand on the board, the voltage increases and the first person to move their hand away loses. How stupid is that? So Sabrina sees an old ex of hers who’s a world renown billionaire on the train with some losers and starts talking to them. One of the losers is an assassin and tells this rich guy that this was the woman who killed one of his henchmen earlier. So they plan to snatch her. And they do. And she gets arrested and thrown into a Swiss jail, where she’s booked on a murder charge. And UNACO gets her off and puts her on the train again, via helicopter. George has been joined by a Russian KGB agent working for UNACO dressed as a priest and soon they’re joined by Sabrina, who’s dressed as a nun. Forgive me if my memory falters, but I think George and Sabrina are captured once again and escape once again and are put on the train once again. But I could be wrong.
Meanwhile, CW is making headway in Germany. The head of product testing is trying to kill him and CW confronts him and he’s taken into custody. Pleased that things are working out so well there, he’s prepared to leave to go back to NYC when he gets a frantic call from the PR lady with a man telling him to go to the nuclear plant immediately, so he does. When he gets there, he’s disarmed and taken to a place in the plant with a large pool of water, where he’s taken up a ladder onto a catwalk. Only to be met by the PR woman with his gun pointed at him. Huge.Shock. Never saw that coming. Yeah. He kills her. Spoiler, sorry.
The train makes it to Italy, but the car carrying the kegs is missing and so are the bad guys. Turns out they’re headed for Libya, by way of another African country. George and Sabrina take off, Berretas in hand. This author really should be a salesman for Berreta. They’re taken to the rich guy’s plant by helicopter, disable a guard, go in a warehouse and see the bad guys. They’ve been instructed to assassinate them. As Sabrina gets ready to go for the kill shot, she hears something and discovers it’s a rat. So the poor, stupid, pathetic girl shrieks and falls to the floor, dropping her gun, resulting in the bad guys shooting at them and capturing them once again. *shakes head* So they’re going to be killed, right? How? George is going to put his hand back in that game and play a death match with one of their men, who has never lost. So how will Sabrina die? We’re never told. While George is struggling with his pain, Sabrina is cutting her bonds loose with broken glass and then frees George. A guard comes back and announces he’s to kill them and George twists his neck and kills him. Just like that. Easy as pie. And so the chase continues. The rich guy has the detonator for the plutonium. He presses it as they’re killing him, spoiler — sorry — and nothing happens. All the bad guys get killed, the good guys win, they go back to NYC to celebrate, George asks Sabrina out on a date and the KGB chief in charge of all of this is placed under arrest, but apparently chooses to kill himself first. Book over.
There are so many stereotypes. And so many foreshadowed moments you just see coming. And so little character development. And such a stupid plot. And UNACO is all powerful. Must be nice, right? This will undoubtedly be the only Alastair MacNeill book I read. Definitely not recommended.