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5.0 out of 5 starsNot Your Ordinary War Novel
Reviewed in the United States on January 31, 2019
How did I ever miss this?? I've read Pillars of the Earth and some others by Follet. Pillars was terrific, but very long. Eye of the Needle was simply fantastic. Planning for D-Day so the German leaders think it will not be at Normandy... A spy novel unlike any other I have ever read. I was glued to it for three days and couldn't stand putting it down to do normal life things. The last 15% was suspense like few books I have ever read. Some of the (real) history I never knew...the fictionalized story was magnificent writing. I did stop and look some things up, especially during the first 20% or so. By the 60% mark or thereabouts, I was reading at a breakneck pace. I knew Follett was talented but this was amazing. If you like stories set in World War II, spy stories, war stories, or anything with terrific characters that the reader really cares about, you must read this. All my friends, put this on your "to read" list right now.
I think "The Brenner Assignment" (O'Donnell) is the only World War II spy story that can hold a candle to this superiorly written novel. 'Brenner' is a true story, however, so it is a must-read for WWII spy enthusiasts for different reasons. "Eye of the Needle" is captivating and realistic fiction: I don't know much about mid-century London, but felt I was living in it reading 'Eye". Nothing not to love! I will note, however, that there's a load of foreshadowing here, so if you find yourself wondering why, for example [SPOILER] so much detail is given to the AC-as-opposed-to-DC generator in the cottage (p.48), then you aren't the only one who knows this'll come back 'round! (Follett did get the AC/DC mixed up, BTW, as others have noted.) Don't miss!
5.0 out of 5 starsGreat introduction to Ken Follett
Reviewed in the United States on January 7, 2017
Great introduction to Ken Follett, who has become on of our finest writers. I believe I've now read most everything he's published, but this was my introduction to Follett and as a German-born American, it captured my imagination from the first page. Even knowing from history that 'Die Nadle' did not accomplish what he set out to do does not make this less mesmerizing. The movie with Kate Nelligan and the incomparable Donald Sutherland actually captures the book quite well, but read it before you rent the movie.
5.0 out of 5 starsWORLD WAR II SPINE TINGLING THRILLER
Reviewed in the United States on March 24, 2014
Henry Faber appears to be a nondescript Englishman, a railway clerk who takes lodging in a widow's house. That is a guise for he is an aristocratic German spy charged with determining whether the Allies will make their assault on occupied France by landing at Calais, where General Patton appears to be massing troops and war materiel. Or will the landing, long anticipated, be on the beaches of Normandy. Faber, who uses other aliases,is a professional, killing as needed, preferably with a stiletto. Contrary to general conviction among his military heads, Hitler believes the attack will be in Normandy, but, trusting his top spy, will defer to his findings.
After he commits several murders, the team at M15, led by a widowed professor of medieval history drafted into service by his uncle, and an investigator pulled in from Scotland Yard, becomes aware of Faber, but cannot find him. The man is smart, resourceful, cautious and cunning. But the investigators, whatever their level of expertise, are secondary characters. The real action, the suspense, the drama, takes place in a desolate, lonely spot on the Scottish coast.
In attempting to meet up with a U-Boat in the North Sea, Faber steals a fishing trawler, but a terrible storm finds him shipwrecked on a strip of Scottish land called appropriately, Storm Island. He appears at the door, sick and confused, of a couple, David and Lucy Rose. Their marriage is loveless. David lost his legs in a traffic accident immediately after their wedding, and is emotionally barren, and unwilling, although not unable, to make love to his wife. David feels diminished, his training as a flyer in the war effort ended as a result of his crippling injuries. Now, he is only a sheep farmer. They have a toddler son, Jo, the result of Lucy becoming pregnant a week before they were wed. Although she cannot love this rather strange, mysterious man who has entered her home, an affair commences immediately. David, physically strong in the upper body, easily becomes aware of it. At the same time, events occur which make it clear that Lucy Rose is the only person who stands between this dangerous and perceptive Nazi spy, and the Allies plan for invasion.
Eye Of the Needle is a true thriller, containing outstanding plot, excellent writing, and a pace which increases mightily as the final confrontation begins to unravel at breakneck speed. Undoubtedly, Ken Follett gave us here one of the great spy novels of all time, an absolute must for devotees of the genre, and anybody else who appreciates great fiction.
The Eye of the Needle was the second book of Mr Follette's I had the pleasure of reading. I'm very happy that I happened upon his writing as I am captivated with his work. His grasp of everyday relationships, sometimes set in historical settings, steeped in suspense with dicy intimacy woven in keeps me on the edge and looking forward to seeing what happens next. I am currently reading "Fall of Giants" enjoying the same excitement I did when I read two of his other books. I look forward to exploring his other works as In my opinion, you will do yourself a favor if you discover the world of Follette.
5.0 out of 5 starsAbsorbing, comprehensive, educational, exciting.....what more could you want?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 23, 2017
At last I have found an author to rival Robert Harris! I have been meaning to read a Ken Follett novel for years and finally decided to try out his very first book, written at the age of only 28. I am so pleased that I did.
The plot was fascinating and believable (except perhaps for one extremely unlikely coincidence). Whilst the story line and characters were fictitious, the background to the fiction was excellent and accurate. The research was meticulous - I could totally trust all that I learned about espionage and tactics in World War II. To be entertained and educated in one book is an ideal combination.
The main character was exceptionally well-drawn. I want to avoid spoilers so won't say too much, but the author demonstrated how you can hate, admire, despise and respect a person. My feelings swung from one to the other as the story progressed to a satisfactory conclusion.
Obviously, this review is many years late and so probably won't be read - but, if you see this and are wondering what to read next, do give Follett a try. He has written many novels and will keep you going for years!
5.0 out of 5 starsOne of my all time favourites. a must read!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 16, 2016
I had this on my "to read" list for about 2 years, but kept delaying reading it due to the belief that it may have only been good due to the time it was written in... how wrong was I! This is one of the best books I have read in years, Ken Follett really knows how to build suspense and characters.
I also loved the setting and how much there is to learn about world war 2...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 12, 2017
I didn't read for many years and then read this even though I had seen the film. Of all the books that I have read, only this one has ever made me jump out of my skin. Love it. Atmospheric and thrilling.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 10, 2015
It's World War 2 and a German agent working in Britain has succeeded in discovering one of the biggest Secrets he'll find. Now he needs to escape and meet up with his rescuing U Boat off the coast of Scotland. Ruthless and determined nothing and no one can get in his way. It's up to a fledgling MI 5 with help from Scotland Yard to catch him. But they don't know what he looks like, where he's living or how he's reporting his information. All they know is a call sign. A needle in a haystack situation it maybe , will detective work and counter espionage be enough ? Great story ,tension built up nicely started to dislike the guy enormously found myself willing on the good guys. My hopes were dashed with theirs each time a plan failed and the agent slipped through their fingers! A great read and worthy best seller!
3.0 out of 5 starsOne particularly annoying weakness was at the beginning a professor was recruited ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 18, 2015
This had a fast moving plot but lacked any serious characterization: the protagonists were just names on the page. Also the plot had major weaknesses in the way it jumped between locations/events. One particularly annoying weakness was at the beginning a professor was recruited by the secret service to help find the dangerous German spy who is the eponymous anti-hero of the book. I therefore expected him to feature by using his intellect to find the spy in ways the other secret service agents were not able to, but this did not happen (indeed he hardly featured), and I am left wondering why a professor was introduced into the plot at all.