Thursday, February 18, 2010




Much like Clive Cussler, Jack Higgins has become a brand name. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily a good thing. For years the debut of a new Jack Higgins’ novel had me down at the bookstore with cash in hand. However, since around the time of Higgins’ novel The President’s Daughter in 2003, when his eponymous character Sean Dillon began his campaign against Middle Eastern terrorism, his books have become bloated parodies filled with cardboard characterizations and ‘who cares’ generic ‘big’ thriller plots.

But in his early days prior to his breakthrough novel, The Eagle Has Landed, and right through to the first three or four Sean Dillon novels, there wasn’t a pulp thriller writer anywhere to whom Higgins took second place.

Pay The Devil is a 1999 entry in the Higgins’ canon, but reads as if it had been written much earlier.


Searching for the peace and quiet that eluded him for four long years as a Confederate colonel in the Civil War, surgeon Clay Fitzgerald sets out for Ireland to lay claim to the estate and fortune he's recently inherited. Once there, he finds himself caught in the midst of yet another civil disturbance at the Fenian Rising.

Clay finds he can not stand idly by, having witnessed the awful living and medical conditions of the poor. With the help of neighbors, his new love, Joanna Hamilton, and a dutiful servant, Clay comes to embrace the plight of the passionate Irish rebels.

Assuming the identity of a legendary romantic outlaw hero, "Captain Swing," he puts his own life at risk to further the peasants' cause. Higgins (Drink with the Devil) adds fuel to his intense plot with well-defined characters and atmospheric historical details.

For me Higgins is at his best when he’s writing about Irish characters and the troubles in that troubled land ancient or current. If you’ve never read Higgins, you are missing out on one of the best of the best from a time when the tag thriller meant high adventure, not high tech.


David Cranmer said...

The quote by Clancy on the cover says it all: "Higgins is the master."

pattinase (abbott) said...

I read more than one if his once upon a time.

George said...

You're right about the quality of the books being higher before THE EAGLE HAS LANDED. After that, Higgins' books got fatter and less interesting.

August West said...

I grew up on Harry Patterson's novels. Like many fans,I've always perferred his older stuff. And there are so many good ones from those days. A giant of an author.

Bill Crider said...

I grabbed this one when it hit the stores, and I liked it a lot more than anything I'd read by Higgins in years.

Evan Lewis said...

Sounds great. You sure wouldn't know from that cover that this is historical adventure.