Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Jack Higgins

Jack Higgins has been entertaining me since I was twelve or thirteen. I started with his bestsellers and then fell—literally—into his earlier work when I found several old paperbacks at a library sale. The titles included In the Hour Before Midnight, The Keys of Hell, and East of Desolation. I can still remember finding that cache—each of the books were Fawcett Gold Medal’s from the 1970s. They had those terrifically tight and sexy covers from the era, and the stories. What can I say about the stories except they were/are the best adventure thrillers I have ever read.

I’m reading one of Higgins’ early titles now—The Iron Tiger—and as often happens I did a search for Mr Higgins and found an article that appeared in Reuters this past January. I learned a few things—the first, is that 2009 marks his fiftieth year as a professional writer, and that he was diagnosed several years ago with an illness that made writing impossible. There is also a short interview where he discusses The Eagle Has Landed; how it was received, how it changed his life, and how his original publisher didn’t want it.

A snippet:

“CANBERRA (Reuters) - Novelist Harry Patterson, better known as thriller writer Jack Higgins, celebrates 50 years of writing this year, counting his blessing.

“Patterson, 79, was diagnosed about eight years ago with essential tremor syndrome, a progressive neurological disease, that made him shake so much that about two years ago he found he could not pick up a pen and was about to give up writing.

“But while suffering a seizure friend's house, he fell and knocked his head, ending up in hospital -- and overnight his tremors disappeared, allowing him to write again.”

To read the rest go Here.

To read a little appreciation I wrote last year go Here.


Unknown said...

The pre-Eagle Has Landed books by Higgins remain among my favorites. I reread them now and then and always enjoy the heck out of them.

Ben Boulden said...

Bill. I absolutely agree. Higgins' bestsellers are only a shadow of his earlier work. Although I have fond memories of many of his early bestsellers, including EHL, and many up through the early-1990s. His current crop of books featuring Sean Dillon have been disappointing. I haven't read one since THE PRESIDENT'S DAUGHTER, and I didn't finish it.

I think THE SAVAGE DAY is probably my favorite with A PRAYER FOR THE DYING and THE KEYS OF HELL a close second and third.

Tosser said...

I think EHL is his best book, but those early ones are a lot of fun. My favorites are THE IRON TIGER and THE LAST PLACE GOD MADE.

Around my town at least, the early Higgins are getting to be scarce in used bookstores.

Ben Boulden said...

Tosser.I haven't read THE LAST PLACE GOD MADE. It's in a box somewhere, and I'm too lazy to dig it out. THE IRON TIGER featured pilot Jack Drummond, a name that is very, very familiar to me. Is he also in LPGM?

His early stuff is getting more and more difficult to find around my area too. It used to be pretty easy. A local paperback exchange--now gone--always had several of his early titles. I did find his THE DARK SIDE OF THE ISLAND a few months ago at a thrift store.


Tosser said...

Nah, LPGM is a singleton. Takes place in the South American jungles right after WW1.

Btw, that was a nice story about the letter from Higgins/Patterson. Had it happened to me, I also would have been surprised and delighted.

Ben Boulden said...

The letter was awesome. I wish I could find the copy I had--a friend, who I have lost track of, wrote the original letter. The response from Patterson was littered with typos and there was an apology and explanation for the typos--a scuba diving accident.

It was really, really neat. He seemed like an amazingly kind and likable man.