Caravan to Vaccarès by Alistair MacLean

Caravan to Vaccarès: A Thrilling Ride with Clunky Writing

Alistair MacLean’s 1970 Novel Delivers Action-Packed Plot but Falls Short in Style

Who loves a bit of Vintage? I do!

Alistair MacLean’s 1970 novel, Caravan to Vaccarès, is a gripping thriller that follows the adventures of Neil Bowman, a British secret agent, as he attempts to thwart a plot involving kidnapped scientists and gypsy smugglers in the south of France. The novel is divided into four main parts, each filled with intense action sequences, plot twists, and a colorful cast of characters.

Caravan to Vaccarès Alistair MacLean Cover

Caravan to Vaccarès

By Alistair MacLean

Caravan to Vaccarès is a thrilling ride through the picturesque landscapes of Provence, where secrets and dangers lurk within a gypsy pilgrimage. Join British agent Neil Bowman and Cecile Dubois

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The story begins with a terrified young gypsy, Alexandre, being pursued and murdered in a series of eerie limestone caves. The plot then shifts to the exclusive Les Baumanière hotel, where Bowman is introduced along with other key characters, including the gypsy villains, two mysterious girls, and the enigmatic Duc de Croytor. As the story unfolds, Bowman finds himself caught up in a web of intrigue, chasing and being chased by the gypsy criminals across the picturesque French countryside.

MacLean’s strength lies in crafting a fast-paced, cinematic plot that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. The action sequences, such as the chase through the ruined city on the cliffs and the thrilling pursuit across the mudflats of the Camargue, are vividly described and seem tailor-made for a movie adaptation. The author also manages to keep readers guessing with numerous plot twists, including the true identity of the Duc de Croytor and the revelation that the two female characters are also secret agents.

However, the novel’s greatest weakness is MacLean’s writing style. The prose is often clunky, labored, and unnecessarily convoluted. The author seems to have a penchant for redundant adjectives, clauses, and circumlocutions that can make the text difficult to follow at times. Some passages are so awkwardly written that they barely make sense, detracting from the overall enjoyment of the story.

Despite the stylistic shortcomings, Caravan to Vaccarès remains an engaging thriller that will appeal to fans of the genre. The plot is inventive and fast-paced, with enough twists and turns to keep readers entertained. The setting of the south of France, with its gypsy caravans, bull-fighting arenas, and dramatic landscapes, adds an extra layer of intrigue to the story.

Caravan to Vaccarès is a flawed but enjoyable thriller that showcases Alistair MacLean’s talent for crafting intricate plots and action-packed sequences. While the writing style may be off-putting for some readers, the novel’s engaging storyline and colorful cast of characters make it a worthwhile read for fans of the genre. The book’s cinematic qualities also make it easy to see why it was adapted into a movie, although with significant changes to the plot.

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