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UNACO, the United Nations Anti-Crime Organization, is a fictional agency within the United Nations created by author Alistair MacLean.

Literary function[edit]

In 1980, MacLean was commissioned by an American movie production company to write a series of story outlines to be subsequently produced as movies. He invented UNACO as the device for the stories, writing notes and outlines for a number of adventures. MacLean himself did not expand the finished product, leaving that to other writers.

While some of the outlines were completed as screenplays, a greater number were expanded into novels. In 1980 and 1981, John Edwards (former editor of the BBC's That's Life programme) and Denis Frost worked together under the pen name "John Denis" on the first two novels/screenplays. A few years later, (1989-93) Alastair MacNeill wrote some screenplays and a number of novels from the source outlines. In the later 1990s, author Hugh Miller completed the last two UNACO novels, still working from MacLean's original notes and outlines.

Some of the works bear little resemblance to MacLean's style, especially in their use of gratuitous sex and violence.

UNACO fictional history[edit]

The prologue of each novel repeats the formation story for UNACO. The concept is that, "in September 1979, the Secretary-General of the United Nations chaired a meeting attended by 46 envoys representing virtually every country in the world...", creating UNACO to "...avert, neutralize, and/or apprehend individuals or groups engaged in international criminal activities. ...UNACO's clandestine existence began on March 1, 1980."[1]

UNACO uses groups of people to form "strike forces". Each strike force has a leader who communicates with UNACO's top commanders. UNACO also works with other agencies around the world.


  • Malcolm Philpott - founder and head of UNACO, a former professor at a New England university.[2]
  • Mike Graham - a former Delta Force officer and CIA operative, Graham's pregnant wife was killed by a terrorist.[2]
  • Clarence Wilkins Whitlock - C.W. is an African-American cat burglar, dubbed the "Black Spiderman".[2]
  • Sabrina Carver - a high class jewel thief, Sabrina like C.W. was personally recruited by Philpott.[2]

List of works[edit]

Year Title Author, using
MacLean's notes
1980 Hostage Tower John Denis Hostage Tower (1980)
1981 Air Force One is Down John Denis
1989 Death Train Alastair MacNeill Death Train (1993)
1989 Night Watch Alastair MacNeill Night Watch (1995)
1990 Red Alert Alastair MacNeill
1991 Time of the Assassins Alastair MacNeill
1992 Dead Halt Alastair MacNeill
1993 Code Breaker Alastair MacNeill
1997 Prime Target Hugh Miller
1998 Borrowed Time Hugh Miller


  1. ^ MacNeill, Alastair (1995). Dead Halt. HarperPaperbacks. pp. Prologue. ISBN 0-06-100825-7. 
  2. ^ a b c d http://www.spyguysandgals.com/sgShowChar.asp?ScanName=UNACO