I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY - First let me say that I normally avoid stories about Hitler and WWII, but this one caught my eye and I'm so very glad I listened to it. It starts off fast, stays good, and you will be on the edge of your seat by the end. While the background of the story is Europe during the war, the plot is about a German spy called The Needle who is trying to get a vital message to Hitler. On the other side, there are the efforts of a handful of main characters determined to find and stop him. There are no battle scenes, just lots of cat-and-mouse action with a little bit of romance tossed in. I've listened to about 100 books at this point, and this is one of my favorites.
PERFORMANCE - This is the first book I've heard where multiple voices were used conversationally (as opposed to reading entire chapters or diaries). It was a treat to hear men speaking as men and women as women, with all the different voices and accents. It wasn't perfect, though, because some of the voices sounded like they were in a tunnel when they were supposedly in the same room with the other speakers. All in all, though, I give them a five for the overall effort.
OVERALL - I can't imagine anyone not liking this book. (But there is sex and cursing, if that offends you).
Eric Lincoln's narration was phenomenal. The female voices and accents of the various characters was superb. Follett's descriptive style was so vivid it left me breathless. It felt like I was reading a screenplay of a movie about Nazi espionage and I was part of the action. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is new to audio books. Thanks to the Audible sale, I stumbled upon a gem. I would pay full price for this fabulous audio book.
Don't you just love a great story well told?
There's been some carping about a book that, apparently, has been updated. So if you only care for one voice, well, that's too bad. I prefer to here a real woman's voice even if it has been cut into the original narrator. The editing is SO well done (love the effect that makes sounds over phone & radio voices 'tinny').
It so fast paced, you'd never know it was done dubbed in as a 2nd release (If in fact that's true... I don't know.)
Also, I think the fact that Follett made the bad guy/spy a complete character, with somewhat conflicted emotions I'm sure might also bother those who suffered at the hands of the very evil Nazis. The antagonist isn't doing this out of fear for their families (however I am NO apologist for the Nazis) many regular Germans lived in fear of the war machine & SS if they didn't follow orders but the majority were simply turning blind eye to pure evil.
The spy in this book was in it for his Fatherland (never said in those words) BUT he is portrayed BRIEFLY as sympathetic when having doubts about some killing that needs doing.
I call that a REAL rounded character not the cardboard cutouts that pass for most Nazis in 98% of stories with that setting.
He's still pure evil.
Make no mistake this book is the first, and shows that Follett indeed has the talent that leads to his ongoing illustrious career.
So download this and hang on. I was on the edge of my ..uh.. earphones or speakers the entire ride. It is gripping Follett couldn't have picked a better secret to have on the line. Wow!
Based on comparisons to other Ken Follett novels, this one simply falls short.
Based on an overall comparison rating it is average to decent.
The audio production is not very good at all. The narrator is good (he starts off reading to fast, but later falls into step)...
BUT... the character voices are delivered by different readers, many of whom are NOT good at all (especially scenes that are supposedly live conversation in the same room - they sound like cutaways to a bathroom - ACTUALLY - SEPARATE bathrooms!!) The production person should be looking for a new job!
Anyway, if you're a Follett nut, save this one till last. It starts slow and the character development is very slow. The last two hours are typical Follett - good.
Read the others, they are better. The other two Follett WWII novels are much better, Hornet Flight (my favorite) and Jackdaws.
Slight thumbs up.. but only so slightly.
I didn't like this as much as some as Ken Follett's other books, but it was still very good. It took a few hours to get into, but once he built up the plot it moved along at a good pace. This is the first audio book that I've listened to that has multiple narrators to represent the different characters, and it was weird at first but then I got used to it. The main narrator was excellent.
I wasn't expecting much from this book. I puchased it for $4.95 and I never read this type of espionage/crime drama, but the author yanked me in with a titillating chapter 1 that literally had me saying "Oh my God!" in the dark at midnight as he shocked me with the end of chapter 1. I couldn't go to bed on account of this book. It did not stop there. The characters were well developed, the language was rich and vivid and The Needle...well..he developed him so well that I have trouble deciding if he was a protagonist or an antagonist. This is war, right? He was fighting for his country and I found , in the end, that I did admire him. One caution- the narrator does read quite fast and the producer set this audiobook up to read like a 1940's "radio show". That's my theory anyway, with the way the voices come in and out with "poor" editing, the over the top accents, it reminds me of old radio shows I've heard. I found it never got in the way of the story except I really had to listen closely and had to rewind my IPOD with a few of the heavier accents which I was more than happy to do as the story was so good.
I've read a couple Follett novels I liked and a couple that were just so-so. This one starts off like the first category and then devolves into the latter. There are two big problems. First, this is basically a time-worn plot line, where the spy is trying to reach his get-away point and the good guys race to try and catch him. Nothing new here. Second, it really gets old listening to the author trying to write love and sex. There are some authors that can weave engaging stories of affection and eroticism. Then there's the rest where it's just boring and you endure the gratuitous sex scenes in order to see how the plot moves forward. Follett just falls down on this. What can I say ... it passed the time.
Excellent historical accuracy. The author really captures the sentiment of the time.
I liked the history professor, but I also found The Needle interesting. The German spy makes this novel because he is absolutely cold blooded and calculating. Of course he tells himself that he is killing for his Country, but he even goes so far as killing a fellow spy because that spy might give him away. His only weakness is not killing a beautiful woman who saves his life, which becomes his downfall.
I liked the scene where the woman defends herself in a cabin when the Needle is trying to get in. It's an all out war between them, even though the Needle doesn't want to hurt the woman. This scene is perhaps even a metaphor for the war between Germany and Great Britain.
I was a bit saddened when the man with no legs lost his fight with the Needle. I was hoping he would win and that would be the end of the Needle.