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The Key to Rebecca [Mass Market Paperback]

Ken Follett
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 1 2003 Signet
His code name: "The Sphinx." His mission: to send Rommel's advancing army the secrets that would unlock the doors to Cairo...and the ultimate Nazi triumph in the war. And in all of Cairo, only two people could stop this brilliant and ruthless Nazi master agent. One was a down-on-his-luck English officer no one would listen to. The other was a young Jewish girl...

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Product Description


"Magnificent...pulse-racing...the runaway hit of the year." -People

"From the opening sentence to the gripping climax...Ken Follett delivers the surefire suspense readers have come to expect." -Los Angeles Times

"It can keep you up all night-grabbed, gripped and thrilled." -Chicago Sun-Times

About the Author

Ken Follett was only twenty-seven when he wrote the award-winning Eye Of The Needle, which became an international bestseller. He has since written several equally successful novels including, most recently, Whiteout. He is also the author non-fiction bestseller On Wings Of Eagles. He lives with his family in London and Hertfordshire. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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!
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
"The Key To Rebecca" is one of Ken Follett's most exciting suspense-thrillers. This novel has all the essential ingredients for an "unputdownable" read.
The novel opens in 1942. World War II is raging, and German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel is having success after success with his Afrika Corps. The Nazis are planning to invade Cairo. The British are hunkering down, and doing everything possible to thwart the invasion. Rommel desperately needs access to British intelligence from their Headquarters in Cairo, in order to ensure his plan's outcome. So Rommel sends a master spy into British occupied Egypt. The spy, known only as the "Sphinx," covertly enters the country, and with a few mishaps, makes his way to Cairo. He has with him a radio, a code to transmit the information secretly, based on Daphne Du Maurier's book "Rebecca," and a piece of paper with the key to the code. Having spent much of his childhood in Cairo, the German-born spy, knows the city, language and many of its inhabitants well.
The Sphinx's task is not as easily accomplished as he once imagined. A British officer, Major Van Damme, with whom he shared past adversarial encounters, is soon on to him - and after him. Enter a beautiful Egyptian Jewess, Elene, who Van Damme wants to use as bait to capture the Nazi spy. Sparks fly between Van Damme and Elene from their first meeting, making it difficult for him to send her into danger. The cast also includes a famous, erotic, and somewhat depraved, belly dancer.
The main plot, although complex, is very realistic and reads smoothly. The various subplots are fascinating, and are often related to historical fact, such as the Egyptian Free Officers Movement's plot to subvert the British.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of Follett's best Dec 13 2002
By Mike C
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I've read almost all of Ken Follett's books and would rate this as his second best, behind Pillars of the Earth, and right up there with Eye of the Needle. It has the usual stock elements found in any thriller: an admirable hero, a despicable villain, a vulnerable but brave young girl, but infuses them with real humanity and builds to a crackling and suspenseful climax. As in other Follett books, he makes the conflict many-layered: The hero (Major Van Damme) wants to apprehend the villain (Alex Wolf) not only because it can have an effect on the progress of the second World War in Egypt, but because they have a past together, and because the girl he is falling in love with has been used as "bait" for Wolf. Shades of Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious.
What I like about Follett's best work is that it really delivers the suspense and resolves the story in an incredibly satisfying way. Like many spy novels, there are contrived situations, but he "gets you to turn over the next page" (Ian Fleming's goal as author of the James Bond books) so eagerly that you just want to see how it ends. His female characters are far from cardboard as well: both of them are fully realized. And, best of all, he makes everyone vulnerable; he knows that we can identify with characters that have strengths and weaknesses, instead of the usual cast of robots exchanging gunfire from speeding cars.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good one, but not Follett's best Nov. 19 2001
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This was a great spy novel, although not on par with The Eye of the Needle. I have a couple of major criticisms for this novel. 1) The hot-n-heavy sex scenes. I know that this is a major way in which Follett departs from peers like Tom Clancy and Jack Higgins, and therefore is a reason for Follett's specific (yet expansive) readership. Not that I find the description of sex offensive; I think the stories would be better off if those things were left to the imagination.
2) The 'cat & mouse' game at the end of the book between Wolff and Vandam. I won't give away any of the major plot developments, but there was several times in the last 50 pages or so when I found myself saying "Just pull your gun and arrest 'im already!"
As you can see, however, I thought the book was good enough to merit 4 stars. It's an entertaining tale.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars I 'm a shameless Follett fan so yes I enjoyed this book
I 'm a shameless Follett fan so yes I enjoyed this book. Not one of his best but a good read. It kept me interested from beginning to end .
Published 1 month ago by Michal
5.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect, still, great
I don't agree about the logic behind some details. The best way to escape for German Spy Alex Wolff is to go alone in Arab clothing. Read more
Published 3 months ago by arnold yeung
5.0 out of 5 stars Ken Follett again
Always great! True Ken Follett writing, leads you epic tale that keeps you wanting to read more. A book worth reading.
Published 13 months ago by Darrell Boutilier
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple But Suspenseful
World War II. North Africa. The Germans (Rommel) against the British. The balance of the struggle is uncertain. Enter Alex Wolf, spy for the Germans. Read more
Published on Oct. 10 2011 by Douglas P. Murphy
3.0 out of 5 stars Good story line
Using God's name in vain should not be allowed in any situation. Descriptions of sex acts are repulsive to many. Books should be written with respect for everyone.
Published on Feb. 20 2011 by always
2.0 out of 5 stars not the usual standard
Although I generally like Follet`s works, I was rather disappointed by The key to Rebecca.
The story, set against the backdrop of the bustling city of Cairo during the British... Read more
Published on Nov. 3 2010 by Tom Henry
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and mostly historically accurate
Not a bad read. If you're simply looking for entertainment, espionage and bellydance it's a quick and entertaining read. Read more
Published on July 27 2010 by Raskolnikov
2.0 out of 5 stars Least interesting Follett I've read so far
I usually love Follett's stories that revolve around wartime (e.g. Jackdaws, Hornet Flight, etc.). But this one just doesn't cut it, with its fairly linear plot line, no real... Read more
Published on May 15 2008 by Robert Lemire
1.0 out of 5 stars no good
this book was not interesting at all. It went on and on and never came to a climax. The conclusion was the biggest piece of crap. Read more
Published on April 15 2004 by fdffd
3.0 out of 5 stars Egyptian crime
Mystery set in Cairo in 1942, I could picture it pretty well, having been there, which is why I read it in the first place. Read more
Published on April 7 2004 by C. L Wilson
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