“Way to Dusty Death” by Alistair MacLean : Book review

This fast paced book is about Formula One races; the high stakes involved and the role of a few unscrupulous but unsuspected men involved.

The speed of racing cars travelling at 260 kilometres per hour can be experienced at many places by the readers, due to the vivid description. It is not for nothing that the famous author Alistair Maclean’s 29 novels are world best sellers and many of them have been made into films.

A brief description about some of the important characters of this novel may come in handy in making the experience of reading this book a pleasant and worthwhile one.

Johnny Harlow: He is the world champion driver of Formula 1 races, golden boy and number one driver of Coronado Racing Team. He is the apparent cause of the latest accident, that is being investigated.  He is desperate to prove his innocence and gets involved in the investigation to find out the culprits.

Alexis Dunnet: He is a Senior officer of the special branch of New Scotland yard and a member of Interpol. He is the Coordinator in the investigation, but is masquerading as a journalist.

Isaac  Jethou: He is a brilliant Californian, driving his red Ferrari Formula One racing car which is involved in the tragic accident leading to the investigation. He gets burnt along with his car.

James Mac Alpine: He is the owner and manager of the Coronado Racing Team. This millionaire’s wife gets kidnapped and his beautiful 20 year old daughter Mary Mac Alpine gets her left ankle pulverized in the accident. She is madly in love with Johnny Harlow.

Rory Mac Alpine: He is the son and younger brother of Mary Mac Alpine.

Jacobson: He is the Chief Mechanic and a friend of James Mac Alpine. He is greedy, unscrupulous and mastermind of the conspiracy.

Nicole Tracchia: He is the Number Two driver of the Coronado Racing team. He is fractionally less good than Harlow. He is also the partner in crime and will do anything to get rich quickly.

Neubauer: He is the Number One Australian driver for Cagliari Team. He is the acknowledged Crown Prince of racing and Harlow’s eventual and inevitable successor.

Something foul was happening in the Grand Prix circuits for almost a year. Cars were losing that had seemed a certainty to win. Cars were winning that should not have had a chance! Cars had mysterious accidents. Engines overheated through a mysterious loss of oil or coolant or both. Drivers fell ill at the most mysterious and most inconvenient times.

This led to the car manufacturers and team owners approaching Scotland Yard who called Interpol.

Mr. Dunnet was the coordinator and Harlow the field man. Investigations reveal that the mastermind Jacobson has earned more money in a year which he could not have in several years. Five drivers and seven or eight mechanics were stashing away more money than they could have legitimately earned. Tracchia and Newbauer were part of the conspiracy and were found to be involved in selling the drug heroin.

Jacobson the mastermind of the fraud, gambled on the Grand Prix drivers to alter the odds in his favour by suborning no fewer than 5 drivers plus even more mechanics.

Jacobson had arranged for the kidnapping of his friend and partner James Mac Alpine’s wife and was milking regular ransom money to his Zurich account from the unsuspecting James Mac Alpine.

Johnny Harlow manages to get out of the limelight and opts to be the driver of the container transporting racing cars. He does a methodical investigation, collects solid evidence of the involvement of Jacobson and his cronies in the fraud and rescues Mrs. James Mac Alpine.

Dust is the European jargon for heroin. Death due to consumption of heroin can be termed as a ‘dusty death’.

Harlow succeeds in punishing Newbauer. Jacobson is shot and killed while trying to escape in a car driven by Tracchia which is pushed off a hairpin bend in the road by Harlow, sending him to a more than 600 feet deep ravine below.

Thus Justice is meted out to all the Evil doers.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I feel sure it will prove to be a fascinating read even for those who are not keen or familiar with the world of car racing.


Published by Musings of a GO

I am an engineer who worked in almost all branches of the Telecom Department of Government of India. I consider myself to be cool and collected at all times, myself being the operative word .....! I am a homebird and love being with my family. I miss my loving wife of more than five decades ..... she left for her Heavenly abode two years ago.

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