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Publisher's Summary

One enemy spy knows the secret of the Allies' greatest deception, a brilliant aristocrat and ruthless assassin - code name: "The Needle" - who holds the key to the ultimate Nazi victory.

Only one person stands in his way: a lonely Englishwoman on an isolated island, who is coming to love the killer who has mysteriously entered her life.

This is Ken Follett's unsurpassed and unforgettable masterwork of suspense, intrigue, and dangerous machinations of the human heart.

©1978 Ken Follett (P)1985 Brilliance Audio

Critic Reviews

"Sheer suspense." ( Washington Post)"Fans of old-time radio drama will particularly enjoy this full-cast version. Narrator Eric Lincoln proceeds smoothly, until the action starts cooking, and his urgency turns up the heat. The small ensemble creates a wide range of lead and supporting characters." ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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What are You Waiting for?

If you are one of the few people that have not read or listened to this book, what are you waiting for? This is a classic that should appeal to historical fiction, thriller, war, adventure and just good reading fans. This was my first Follet, but it won't be my last. There are even some good sex scenes.

Eric Lincoln does a great job and surely he was not the only narrator, none of the voices sound like the same guy did them. The production is first class, it sounds like a radio play.

The writing is great, the story is great, the production is great, if you don't enjoy this, the problem is with you.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Arnold
  • Atlanta, GA, United States
  • 10-15-09

On the edge of my seat

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.

23 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great Spy Thriller

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).

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Scott
  • Roseville, CA, United States
  • 06-06-10

A Classic WWII Spy Thriller

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!

29 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Just OK by Follett Standards

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.

50 of 58 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Exciting listen

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.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Quintessential thriller

Fast-paced and still fresh 30 years after publication. Excellent narration.

21 of 25 people found this review helpful

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  • Joe Bloggs
  • WASHINGTON, IL, United States
  • 04-11-15

Into the mind of a Nazi Spy

What made the experience of listening to Eye of the Needle the most enjoyable?

Excellent historical accuracy. The author really captures the sentiment of the time.

Who was your favorite character and why?

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.

Which scene was your favorite?

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.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • James
  • Oswego, IL, United States
  • 08-23-10

Catch The Needle if you can-Woo Hoo!

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.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Stephen
  • Killarney Heights, Australia
  • 10-01-10

Buy it!

Brilliant book! It's been a long time since I've actually found myself clapping as an audio book finished!

12 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • A. D. Thacker
  • 07-01-08

Wonderful thriller

This is a gripping thriller. Really enjoyed it. Only let down by ludicrous, hilarious accents of the dramatized dialogue.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-06-13

I gave up the reading was terrible

I have this on my kindle but I thought my husband might like to listen to it, but listened first.

It is an atrocious reading. This is a British book which has been altered to make it more easy for Americans to understand. I could almost forgive the replacing of such words as "nappy" for "diaper", if the reader had not sunk into a Dick Van Dyke style mockney accent.

Audible please choose appropriate readers for your books. This is truly AWFUL.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Geoff
  • 12-29-08

"Eye of the Needle (Unabridged)"

This is a great thriller, BUT it is ruined by the inconsistent, amateurish and in some cases laughable accents attempted by the narrator.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Stian
  • 04-07-12

might be a good story..

I just couldn't follow the narration. Tried for 30 mins then gave up, a real waste of money. Very monotome and made worse by what seem to background noise..

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • J M Smith
  • 04-27-11


There was nothing wrong with the storey teller, BUT the extra voices must have been supplied by members of the Goon show.
They managed to completely ruin what would have been an acceptable storey.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Stafford Steve
  • 04-13-15

Read the book!

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Not time well spent as I could have been better occupied reading the book.

What did you like best about this story?

basic conceit about German intelligence in 1944 is great, but it's realisation was a great disappointment.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

too fast, and the am dram voices were just stupid

Was Eye of the Needle worth the listening time?

Not really.

Any additional comments?

Very disappointing. It's not that it isn't Le Carre, or even that Harris does this kind of thing better in Enigma and Fatherland, or even that pointless Americanisms litter this British story, but this is neither the reading of a novel nor a full dramatisation, but amateur night at the library with ludicrous voices. This is my most disappointing Audible talking book to date.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Steve
  • 12-20-09

Drama is not as good as the book.

I thought that the book was better than this drama, which is ruined by accents etc.

Code to Zero is also a better book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Ann Collins
  • 01-26-17

Terrible narration ruined a good book

Great story by Ken Follet but dreadful narration. Far too fast most of the time, British story bet altered for US market and absolutely awful acting for the voices - accents nothing like they were supposed to be. Horrible performance completely ruined a good book (read it years ago).

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • sodajoe
  • 05-23-14

Can't make up its mind what it wants to be.

What disappointed you about Eye of the Needle?

The performance is terrible, it's not quite a dramatization and not just a straightforward narration. The sound quality comes across quite cheaply and the accents are shocking. I'm off to try the abridged version. Here's hoping.

Would you be willing to try another book from Ken Follett? Why or why not?

I'm going to try the abridged version of Eye of the Needle

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Eric Lincoln?

Anyone but him or he could do without the dreadful accents.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?


Any additional comments?


2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • John
  • 11-11-14

Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins Rides Again!

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

The removal of the awful voices apart form the narrator. All the extra voices seems to have come through a machine. It actually make Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins sound like a cockney!

How could the performance have been better?

Better English Voices

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

All three!

Any additional comments?

This is a irst class story, that has been sadly spoiled by the very bad voices

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Kate
  • 05-17-15

A Classic Thriller

I have enjoyed many of Ken Follett's other works so I decided to look into his earlier novels, and found lots of entertainment within his stories. Set in latter years of the Second World War, the story revolves around the secrets and conspiracies of tricking the enemy and hunting for spies, the most sought after being 'The Needle'. Taking the listener into the barren Scottish islands, Follett weaves intrigue and suspense into the lives of the island dwellers. The narrator carried the story well, defining characters by accents and the scenes with gravitas. Definitely a recommended listen for any wanting a dash of gallant intrigue and old-fashioned thrills.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • 05-13-16


The different voices were annoying at first, it was like listening to a bad radio play. The story was good overall

1 of 1 people found this review helpful