MACTAGGART'S WAR by Ralph Dennis


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Dennis here makes the big switch from writing detective stories about Hardman, a private eye in Atlanta, to sweeping adventure spectacle in the Alistair MacLean manner. And in this case, sedulous imitation has produced a better work than the master's, since Dennis' characterization and stylish prose easily outshine MacLean's banalities. MacTaggart is a middle-aging Scotsman assigned to the Bank of England as chief protector of a shipment of 1940 bullion being secretly removed from an invasion-wary England to Canada. But news of this shipment has leaked to a money-hungry British officer, who takes off for the states and contacts two equally money-hungry U.S. Army officers in Fort Sam Belwin, South Carolina: one is a West Point graduate (1930) now about to be court-martialed for theft of petty cash; the other is a former football star who is falling to pieces under debt and a nagging showgirl wife. These three gents naturally plan a heist of the bullion, a heist which is to take place in the small railroad-station village of Wingate in the Canadian wilderness. After rounding up several down-and-outers who are specialists in armaments, the heisters hit a small U.S. bank for funds, then take off for the Big Stuff in Canada. The rest is standard robbery procedural, climaxed by the big shootout when the almost successful hit team is wiped out at the moment of victory. A ho-hum plot, perhaps, but Dennis is a spiffy storyteller, expanding nicely.

Pub Date: June 7th, 1979
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston