“Puppet on a chain” – Paul Sherman, an Interpol Narcotics Bureau agent, visits Amsterdam / Netherlands to bust a heroin smuggling ring – he is accompanied by two assistants Maggie and Belinda.
Let us see how Maclean describes Paul’s working relationship with Maggie: “Maggie and I were fond of each other and had been for years, an almost essential qualification where a momentary loss of mutual faith and interdependence could have consequences of an unpleasant and permanent nature: but we weren’t, so far as I knew, too fond of each other, for that could have been equally disastrous” !
Or take this about the way a doorman is described : “..recrossing the street, Paul nodded to the doorman: with the masonic legerdemain known only to doormen, the doorman materialized a taxi out of nowhere…”
and describes Amsterdam thus : “The broad highway directly beneath me — and about seventy feet beneath me — appeared to be inextricably jammed with clanging tram-cars, hooting vehicles and hundreds upon hundreds of motor-scooters and bicycles, all of whose drivers appeared to be bent on instant suicide. It appeared inconceivable that any of those two-wheeled gladiators could reasonably expect any insurance policy covering a life expectancy of more than five minutes, but they appeared to regard their imminent demise with an insouciant bravado which never fails to astonish the newcomer to Amsterdam. As an afterthought, I hoped that if anyone was going to fall or be pushed from the balcony it wasn’t going to be me.”
It is thus Maclean sets the tone so elegantly, smoothly and inimitably as only he can !