by Ben Boulden
Jack Higgins is a familiar name to most readers. His thrillers have routinely appeared on international bestseller lists since his breakout novel, The Eagle Has Landed, was published in 1975. A book that has been printed more than 50 million times. But Jack Higgins, whose real name is Harry Patterson, wrote 35 novels before The Eagle Has Landed made him a household name, and many of those early novels, especially those published between East of Desolation (the first book with the name Jack Higgins attached) in 1968 and The Run to Morning in 1974, are quite good. At their best, a Jack Higgins novel is linear, well-plotted, exciting, and with a style that is lyrical, and characters that are wonderfully romantic. At their worst, they are bland and lifeless. Higgins’ weakest novels, on average, are those published after 1990, which is about the same time his character Sean Dillon appeared on the scene. Many, but certainly not all, of the Sean Dillon books are weighted by interchangeable plots, characters that are more caricature than realistic, and a stark style that, at its worst, sinks into dullness.