Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett

Eye of the needle by Ken Follett

Eye of the needle by Ken Follett

The Eye of the Needle is a WWII spy thriller written by Ken Follett. The fiction novel was first published in 1978 by Penguin and was originally called Storm Island. This book was Follett’s first success and in 1979 he won the Edgar Award for Best Novel from the Mystery Writers of America.  The novel was made into a film in 1981 with Donald Sutherland.

During WWII the Allies tried to convince the Nazis that the D-Day landings were to be at Calais and not in Normandy. They made up a fictitious First United States Army Group (FUSAG) to this end, with fake tanks, buildings and dummy radio traffic to give the impression of an army ready to land at Calais.   In 1940 London Henry Faber is a German spy, called the needle, die Nadel’ in German, named for the stilleto knife he uses to kill people. Faber kills his landlady after she catches him making a radio call to Germany. The novel tells of David and his wife Lucy. He is an ex-RAF pilot who is diabled and they have moved to Storm Island off the coast of Scotland.

MI5 has recruited or hanged all German spies except Faber who is very cunning.  Godliman and his assistant Bloggs work for MI5 and are trying to catch him.

Faber is sent by the Nazis to check FUSAG is real and he finds in fact that it is a deception. Faber then heads to Scotland to rendevous with a German Uboat to escape with the information back to Germany. Faber is tracked to Scotland by MI5. After stealing a boat to get to the sub he is shipwrecked on Storm Island.   David and Lucy care for him but he kills David after he finds out about him being a spy. Lucy, who was unhappy in her marriage is getting out of the bath and about to put on her lingerie when Faber walks in and sees her naked. After this they fall for each other and Lucy sleeps with Faber Lucy finds her husband’s body and realizes that Faber has killed him.   Faber tries to radio the Nazis information about FUSAG but Lucy blows the electricity in the cottage to cut the radio. Unable to send a radio message and unable to kill Lucy who he now loves, Faber tries to escape down the cliff to swim to the waiting U-boat. Lucy throws a rock down on him and after one hits him he falls to his death.

The RAF then attack the Uboat. MI5 send a false radio message with Faber’s call sign to trick the Germans into believing that the invasion will be at Calais. Bloggs comforts the Lucy and then eventually gets married to her.

Ken Follett is an enthrawlling writer and I would strongly recommend his novels to you.

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The Salzburg Connection by Helen MacInnes

The Salzburg Connection by Helen MacInnes

The Salzburg Connection by Helen MacInnes

The story begins near to Salzburg, Austria, when a photographer called Richard Bryant dives into the Fintersee Lake, high in the mountains, to retrieve a large chest that had lain there for many years. Unknown to him, he is observed by others. This sets off a deadly chain of events.

Sometime later a lawyer, called William Mathison, to Bryant’s photography shop to ask about a photo book of the Austrian lakes that is said to be commissioned by Bill’s client, the publisher James Newhart. Anna, Bryant’s wife gives Bill correspondence from Eric Yates who previously claimed to be Newhart’s representative. Soon after Bill leaves, Anna’s brother Johann Kronsteiner is told, by family friend Felix Zauner, that Bryant has been killed in an accident. Bill finds that he is being followed. A desperate tale involving Austrian Intelligence, Mossad, Chinese Communists, CIA, Nazis and the KGB ensues. The secrets that lay hidden in the chest since the war were explosive.

This novel, by Helen MacInnes is one of my favourites. The start of the novel is very evocative and the suspense continues throughout the book. The story was written in 1968 and took inspiration from true life events. It had been suspected for many years that, near the end of the war, elite Nazis had trekked into the Austrian mountains and had hidden gold in the depths of many of the remote lakes. The most famous lake being Lake Toplitz which began to give up some of it’s secrets in the late 1950s as divers searched its depths.

A novel of high intrigue, spies and Neo Nazis and a very good read – particularly on a European skiing holiday on a dark night.

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