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Book review: Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett

Since my last novel, I've taken way longer than I had anticipated to finish the next. I had so many things going on the past few weeks that I was unable to find the time to read at a stretch. I did it in short stabs stealing whatever spare time I could.  

After I devoured six books by Greg Iles back-to-back, the next author I set my sights on was Ken Follett. The Welsh author of thrillers and historical novels has sold more than 160 million copies of his works. Many of his books have achieved high ranking on best seller lists. I'll admit that I had never read any of his books before. But that has since changed (obviously) and I now have an entire collection on my Kindle that awaits!

Eye of the Needle was Follett's first successful, best-selling effort as a novelist, and it earned him the 1979 Edgar Award for Best Novel from the Mystery Writers of America


Contains spoilers

The premise of the novel is a fictionalized account of events preceding the most important military operation of World War II: the Battle of Normandy. As most History buffs are aware, the Western Allies of World War II launched the largest amphibious invasion in history when they assaulted Normandy, located on the northern coast of France, on 6 June 1944. In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allied forces conducted a huge near-impossible deception operation, aimed at misleading the Germans with respect to the date and place of the invasion. The objective of 'Operation Fortitude' was to trick the enemy into preparing for an invasion via the Pas de Calais so that on D-Day, the Normandy assault would have the advantage of surprise. 

A big part of this covert operation were the spies that operated on both sides, Germany and Britain at the time. Under the watchful eye of Winston Churchill, The British were able to turn several German spies into double agents who would then feed falsified information to Hitler's camp. From this point in history onward, Eye of the Needle enters the realm of fiction. A single German spy working for the Nazi's known only as Die Nadel or 'The Needle' has the capacity to foil the entire ruse. Being the Führer's number one agent, Die Nadel has in his possession, photographic evidence to prove the presence of a massive dummy camp near Calais and he is on the move to deliver the damning information personally. The British intelligence MI5 who have recruited a network of 'spy catchers' consisting of soldiers, historians, scholars, barristers and the likes must come together to decipher cryptic codes, monitor suspicious activity and undertake spy catching missions in the interest of national security. Percival Godliman, a widowed history professor and Frederick Bloggs, a young inspector from Scotland Yard work around the clock in the manhunt for the evasive Die Nadel before it is too late. 

In a dramatic and unexpected twist to the plot, a young English woman's fate becomes entwined in the spy drama and she unwittingly finds herself a major determinant of the outcome of the war. Lucy, is a wife of an ex-trainee RAF pilot and mother of a three year old child, living in desolation on Storm island, off the east coast of Scotland. Her angst stemming from a loveless marriage to her paraplegic husband keeps her in an unceasingly woeful state of mind. One day, her life as she has known it is turned upside down. She has 48 hours to find the courage she has never known to be safeguard not only her child but also her country.

The outcome of the Battle of Normandy is written in history. But what is the fate of Die Nadel? What happens to Lucy and her family?

Read the book to find out!


This post first appeared on Meinblogland, please read the originial post: here

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Book review: Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett


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