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When Eight Bells Toll

Narrated by: Jonathan Oliver
Length: 10 hrs and 22 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (101 ratings)

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Summary

From the acclaimed master of action and suspense. The all-time classic.

Millions of pounds in gold bullion are being pirated in the Irish Sea. Investigations by the British Secret Service, and a sixth sense, have bought Philip Calvert to a bleak, lonely bay in the Western Highlands. But the sleepy atmosphere of Torbay is deceptive. The place is the focal point of many mysterious disappearances. Even the unimaginative Highland Police Sergeant seems to be acting a part. But why?

This story is Alistair MacLean at his enthralling best. It has all the edge-of-the-seat suspense and dry humour that millions of fans have enjoyed for years.

©1966 Devoran Trustees Ltd (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic reviews

"Keeps up its high-wire tension all the way. Not to be missed." ( The Guardian)
"A cracker-jack opening. Insistently readable." ( Evening Standard)
"Breathless action...and a sterling plot." ( Financial Times)
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When Eight Bells Toll

This has always been one of my favourite Alistair Maclean books. I have read it a dozen times and, in my head, have used accents and dialects that I thought suited the characters. Now I have listened to someone else's interpretation and, to be honest, am disappointed. I missed the little gems of humour that I always found made this book special, but the narrator seems to have played these down. To me, he also seemed to narrate too "loudly" when I have always "read" the lead character especially to be softer spoken. I doubt I will listen to it again, it will be one of the occasions when a book in the hand is better by far.

3 people found this helpful

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I love this book.

Ive been reading Alastair Maclean since I was a teenager this book. This book has always been one of my favourite books of his so to find it as an audio book has been a delight. It was hugely enjoyable. I devoured it in 3 listenings.

5 people found this helpful

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Spoiled by narrator

I've enjoyed reading the author in the past so was disappointed that I had to give up this book owing to the poor narration. Some characters spoken too loud with caricature foreign accents or too similar so I lost track of who was speaking. Pity.

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant

A fantastic listen, thoroughly entertaining and in my opinion the best from the master of thriller novels

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Gave up after 30 minutes

A classic story spoilt by irritating, poor narration. I gave up after 30 minutes. Although Mr Oliver attempts different accents he still manages to make everyone sound the same, and so it becomes very confusing. This doesn't come over in the preview.

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  • Carl
  • 27-09-17

My Favorite Thriller Writer

I thought I had read all Alistair's books more than 40 years to go but to my surprise I missed one. Alistair Maclean has always been my favorite thriller writer because he has great characters, his books move at a fast pace, his stories are well researched, and the action is realistic and non-stop. Glad to hear that his books are now on audible and it was better than reading it. Guess now I'll have to go down the list of all his books I read before to listen to them this time because they are still as great as when they were first written. Thanks Audible.

4 people found this helpful

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  • OldFed
  • 04-12-17

Terrible Narrator

Would you try another book from Alistair MacLean and/or Jonathan Oliver?
Alastair MacLean? Absolutely! Jonathan Oliver? Not even on a dare.

What other book might you compare When Eight Bells Toll to and why?
John LeCarre, or Ian Fleming, would be the closest comparisons, I think. MacLean was probably the best of the Cold War - spy - thriller authors, at least until Tom Clancy came along. All of MacLean’s novels are really great reads, and “Eight Bells” is one of his best.

Would you be willing to try another one of Jonathan Oliver’s performances?
Not only no, but h*ll no. Listening to him ruin two good books was three too many.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
Extreme disappointment. A really great book, one of my favorites, ruined by terrible narration.

Any additional comments?
Did someone really think Jonathan Oliver was a good choice of narrator? Really? Please, please... for the love of good literature, and all that is decent and good, re-do the entire Alastair MacLean collection, with a narrator who doesn’t make every character sound like a tweaked-out cockney cab driver. Perhaps Simon Vance, Michael Pritchard, David Tennant (perfect choice!), or Frank Muller?

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • John
  • 30-04-20

Great read.

Loved it. McLean has an occasional wry sarcasm that only adds to his crisp clean writing style.

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  • Veronica M
  • 27-03-20

tedious

not one of his better books. the first half was so mundane it would have put a bear to sleep in summer

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  • Greg Bass
  • 13-03-20

Great story and performance

I loved the complex story and plot twists and the performance was great. Great mystery and action.

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  • islander
  • 01-11-19

great story, just okay narration

Thought paused too long between many sentences which, to me, gave the narration a herky jerky flow.

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  • Britt619
  • 27-02-18

Fantastic narrator

I will seek out this narrator, because he meshes perfectly with these books. I love Alistair MacLean’s stories - obviously some more than others. But the characters are always well defined in subtle, telling ways. I truly enjoy listening to this audible rendering because I seem to always pick up new nuances to the characters and storyline even when it is familiar to me. Calvert, for instance... when you hear the line about how one person’s decision to drive drunk ended his marriage - it resonates and builds that characters backstory with A LINE. Well done.