We certainly can't fault Ken Follett for variety in writing -- his books span many timelines and topics. But in "Key", he returns to a seeming favorite combination found in several of his nearly twenty novels -- sex, war, and spies!! Set in early WWII in Egypt, the basic story line is about a German spy, Alex Wolf, who is half European and half Arabian, and therefore blends in easily in numerous settings in Cairo during the British occupation. His goal is to send Field Marshall Rommel, whose army is advancing on Egypt from the west, superior and accurate intelligence via radio transmission using a secret key from Du Maurier's novel "Rebecca" (hence the title!). He enlists the aid of a sexy belly dancer, whose sexual appetite is nothing short of voracious anyway, to entice an unwitting Brit, and steals secrets from his attaché case while the officer is "otherwise engaged". (Alex helps himself to her favors as well...) Meanwhile, British security officer Major Van Damme, is soon hot on Wolf's trail, having cleverly picked up on his activity by piecing together some events that look a little too coincidental, followed by the passing of counterfeit pound sterling notes. Van Damme eventually also enlists a female to woo Wolf, but soon regrets the danger into which he embroils her as he falls in love with her himself. Frantic desert chases and crosses and double crosses galore characterize this suspenseful yarn from start to finish.
At first, we mentally stumbled over the foreign people and place names, but soon were at home with the lead characters. The villain was so clever we almost started rooting for him somewhere along the line, but were not disappointed with the ultimate outcome. While some content is definitely not for the prudish, we are sure Follett's faithful, as well as readers new to this author, will enjoy this adventurous tingling tale!