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Ken Follett does not disappoint. At first, I was a little ho-hum about this one but once he added a little sizzle, the characters started to really pop, the story line picked right up and it was a real page turner that kept me up at night. Give this one a try, you will really enjoy it!
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.
AMAZON.COM READER'S REVIEW
Ken Follett is an interesting author and while this is a great thriller it also engages you in real history. The setting in Africa so pull out your atlas and takes place as Britain is about to lose a key part of a major battle. This is what Follett uses to create an effective page turner.
A WWII spy classic set in Egypt, full of desert color and intrigue, and a first-rate read.
In an unusual twist, the villain is set as the protagonist, more clever than his British counterpart and far more interesting. Story opens with an awe-inspiring trek across the Sahara and a brief look at Beduoin life. Then Wolff, the Nazi spy, goes to ground in Cairo and feeds Rommel info that will certainly win this war for Germany unless the British Major Van Damn can stop him.
As in any Follett, there is plenty of sex and the two women characters are each unique and fascinating. Follett's apparently love of 'menage a trois' is captured in a surprisingly graphic depiction.
The suspense is edge of the seat from start to finish and if you are like me, you want to grab Van Damn by the neck and holler at him to get on with it, man!