5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2004
Eye of The Needle is a super-great WWII spy thriller that takes place in England right before D-Day. The Germans have had spies planted in England since before the War started. The British have slowly but surely been catching them. Now they have come across Germany's #1 spy and he is bound and determined to make it back to Germany at all cost with Allied top secret information that will change the course of the war! This book will keep you at the edge of your seat throughout the whole story. This was my first book that I've read from Ken Follett. I have already ordered all of his other WWII books; I can't wait!!!
For those just getting around to this novel keep in mind that it was published in 1978. So the story and plot devices may not seem fresh because you will have probably read similar works. But those similar works are a result of Follett providing the template. So it is for that reason that the book gets five stars. The brilliant sleeper agent, earnest pursuers and an unanticipated wrench in the plan now seem familiar but was freshly executed by the author.
The pace is fantastic as is the wide cast of characters including real historic figures. The book is all about deception from a German agent to a fake army to a ruinous marriage, deceit abounds. It was also a bit racy with a graphic coupling I had largely forgotten from my first pass years ago. This is a great beach or fireside read. Enjoy!
In the film The Iron Lady is a scene in which the retired Margaret Thatcher is shown reading Eye of the Needle while her husband Denis Thatcher remarks "In the end she kills him, you know."
on November 9, 2003
Ken Follet's Eye of the Needle was an extraordinary book about a German spy named Faber, who knows the greatest secret of the Allies. If he gets the information to Hitler than the war is most likely to be won by the Nazis.
It is a race between Faber and many intelligent Allies. Two of them, Godliman and Bloggs have traced back many murders and crimes to Faber and are always close to catching him but somehow he always finds a way to escape. They both know that The Needle, Faber's codename, is very important and close to Hitler because he ends his letters with , Regards to Willi.
Which most spies would never be that casual with their leaders.
Follet also tells the story of two of the important people following Faber. Godliman was a professor before the war started and throughout the search for Faber he remembers seeing him somewhere when he was younger. Bloggs is young and has just lost his wife in a bombing. He blames every Nazi for this and will doing anything to find and kill Faber.
Follet also tells of a young couple who are living their lives on a small cozy island with their son while all of this is going on. David, the husband, was going to fly a plane for the allies but got in a car accident and lost his legs. They both act happy when visitors come but Lucy, David's wife, knows there is something missing between them.
The Needle ruthlessly kills anyone that gets in between him and the Fuehrer. He even kills people on his own side. That is the reason, though, that thousands of people are looking for him but no one can find him. Follett adds an interesting pattern at the ends of the chapters that The Needle kills someone end with the phrase "You saw my face."
You do find out he has a heart, though, at the end of his mission when he crashes on a lonely island. For once, he hesitates to kill someone.
This book is definitely a page-turner and has a very intense plot filled with adventure, suspense, and romance. It keeps you interested from the very first page to the very last.
on October 24, 2002
Ken Follett established himself in the thriller genre with this novel, first published in 1978. It was an instant bestseller and later made into a movie with Donald Sutherland and Kate Nelligan.
The premise: Henry Faber (codename: "Die Nadel") an individualistic and ruthless German agent (one of the last German spies not scooped up by MI5) is assigned to investigate whether or not Lt. General Patton's First United States Army Group is massing in East Anglia for the expected invasion of Calais, the area the German High Command expects the Allies to assault. Faber discovers that Patton's Army is a phony. The Allies are deceiving German intelligence with fake messages, troop concentrations and dummy barracks (which look real to German reconnaisance aircraft).
However careful as Faber is, the British counterintelligence agents Percival Godliman and Fred Bloggs, a history professor and policeman respectively, are a brilliant team that discover "Die Nadel" and are hot on his trail.
Eluding the police and the Home Guard and killing any and all who suspect his identity, Faber heads north to make a rendezvouz with a U-boat. His escape is thwarted by bad weather and he is washed ashore on Storm Island, a nearly deserted piece of rock in the North Sea, where Lucy Rose, a beautiful, but frustrated wife of a legless RAF pilot lives. In time, she discovers Faber's true identity....
I don't usually like thrillers, but this one kept me up. I read it over 20 years ago and have read it a few times since. Follett is a good story teller and his research for the story is wonderful. His portrayals of the German leaders, Hitler, Rundstedt and Rommel are superb.
I liked the film version too, though I believe it would be ideal for a remake (my choices for Faber would be Ralph Fiennes and for Lucy Kate Winslett or Helena Bonham Carter).
Time hasn't dimmed this book. It still holds up and is a classic of World War II espionage. Enjoy.
on September 10, 2002
Henry Faber alias, The Needle, is a German spy who works for Germany during World War II. He is tall, handsome, intelligent, well built, German aristocrat who works fast, in a shrewd manner, cleanly, and without leaving a trace. He is very close to Hitler. When a person becomes a danger to his identity or whereabouts, he uses an "stilletto" to utterly kill without almost any evidence.
The Needle or Die Nadle, discovers a British military secret that if given to the Germans on time would, no question about it, make the Germans win the war. Then the British find out about it, then starts the run, hide and go of The needle. All the Allied and British military intelligence are looking for him with no results But nobody but a woman, Lucy Rose, who lives in a stormy and far away island , can get to him...
The novel is excellently written and keeps the reader interested until the end. It also depicts all the knowledge about military intelligence, spies and world War II that the author masters.
I strongly recommend this book as a novel to entertain, and "A Place Called Freedom", also written by Ken Follet
on July 19, 2002
Ken Follett has done a wonderful job of centralizing the plot of a novel around the life and work of the bad-guy. Rather than write a typical "good-guy" spy-thriller, he has introduced a whole new view of the spy-thriller. The novel is remarkable and one of my top three favorites produced by Follett. His ability to write a novel about the enemy's number 1 spy was entertaining and, in my opinion, the hallmark of his writing career.
Nadel is a ruthless spy. No family no loved ones. Just the way he likes it. It allows him to concentrate on the matter at hand. Killing opposition spies.
This was absolutely amazing and a quick fun read. If you have read some of Follett's other books such as "Pillars of the Earth", "Key to Rebecca", "A Dangerous Fortune", then you know what his style of writing is. Although different in content, his style is almost invented within these book covers. If you've read other works of Follett's, then you'll enjoy this book as being on par, but on a different course than those aforementioned.
Eye of the Needle is a unique spy-thriller well deserving of 5 stars. I would suggest those books above, along with this one if you're looking for a good weekend/vacation reading. Please see my reviews of the other novels as they may help you to choose which you want to read first.
on April 2, 2002
This was the novel that gave Follet star quality status in publishing circles. Not only was it a best seller but it also was adapted into a movie, starring Donald Sutherland.
Here are some reasons to read THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE:
(1) PRECISION: you like reading about cool, precise heroes or anti-heroes or villains who are painfully precise in their plans, the best at what they do and are totally "stone cold.";
(2) WWII BUFF: you love to read about the "big thrills" of WWII; this has it since the German spy discovers D-Day plans and tries to get back to Germany to warn the High Command (i.e. his tap was taken after he was shortly exposed);
(3) TAUT THRILLS: if this turns you on, Follet is right up there with Forsythe, Higgins and other masterful spy thriller novelists.;
(4) MOVING LOVE/LUST TALES: Follet has always been unusually good at the subplot love stories in his tales; the intimacy level is higher than some people encounter in their real lives; the details of the lovemaking is hot. I still remember, at one point, the female interest asks the male love interest why he never married and he replied to something along the lines as: "I never loved any woman enough to marry them."; and
(5) LOTS OF COMPLICATIONS FOR THE CHARACTERS: especially for the villain who seems to overcome almost all of them.
Follet also does a good job of centering the story on the villain so that you like him and then switching over to another character later. The transition works for a number of reasons but saying more would spoil the story.
on July 8, 2001
Although Follett has never written a bad, or even a mediocre book, this is still the absolute best. The protagonist reaches off the first page and grabs you by the neck and never lets up. And he's the bad guy!
The plot offers the very real possibility that a German spy of great resources, intelligence, super-human determination and loyalty snuck into London with the cold-blooded mission of obtaining vital access for Hitler's invasion forces. As usual with Follett this guy is extremely human -- you can't help identifying with him despite his being ready, willing and able to slit the throats of anybody who gets in his way.
An afternoon in bed with a fully operational German spy proves to be the required antidote for the heroine of the book who is being suffocated by life with a cold crippled excuse for a husband. Will she give in to her sensuous nature or deny herself for love of country? It's never really in doubt, although the raw appeal of sexual attraction is a subject Follett has honed and refined in every book.
This book is a gem.
on June 28, 2001
when i'm looking for a change of pace from classic classics (like "war and peace", "the brothers karamazov", "the tale of genji", "don quijote", etc.) it's wonderful to sit back, relax, and read some classic suspense. and in this respect follett really is superb value. you get strong characters, strong plotting, and, for the picky literature buffs among us, you get strong writing -- not to be underestimated!! if you are reading this review i have little doubt you will love, "eye of the needle." don't stop here, though! pick up some of follet's other books, too. then pick up wilbur smith, particularly, "the eye of the tiger", "the sunbird", "wild justice" and the family sagas. then pick up james herbert's "rats" trilogy -- "rats", "lair", and "domain." and for relief from all this suspense, read "don quijote" for laughs. it's one of the great wonders of the world.
on November 23, 2000
This is the grandfather of spine tingling WWII thrillers with colorful characters who surprise and delight the reader and never disappoint or condescend.
The story of the top Abwher spy, deeply planted in wartime England and the crew of counter espionage agents who relentlessly hunt him. Eye of the needle is Ken Follett's most inspired work. The characters are new, fresh and original. They are reused freely in his later works, sometimes to the detrament of the books, but here they are bright and unique.
The narrative give the reader insight into the conflicts of war torn England, both within and without. A peek at the despair war can bring and the true merciless nature of warfare and espionage.
There are several very similar works on the market, but none of them come close to the power and reality created on these pages. You will come away with the sights and smells of the drama clinging to your senses even though you have experienced them through the imagination of the author.
This is also one of the most well written of all Follett's books, with the advent of the mind's eye point-of-view that appears later in other offerings, but without the delivery found in Eye Of The Needle.
You will come to love and hate the protagonist, who is the determined spy as he tried so desperately to deliver his message and the tenacious hounds of British Intelligence who hunt him.
If you enjoy WWII thrillers and want to escape this day and time, this is the book for you. You will have difficulty putting it down. It's still Ken Follett's best.