Customer Reviews: Eye of the Needle
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on July 5, 1999
Using late World War II as a backdrop for a breathtaking tale of espionage, Ken Follett brings together a ruthless German spy and a resourceful young Englishwoman, a combination that, believe it or not, serves at a catalyst for the Allies' victory. Though a work of fiction, EYE OF THE NEEDLE is utterly convincing from explosive beginning to explosive climax. The structure of the novel is fairly straightforward, but Follett manipulates the plot expertly and deftly, placing this story notches higher than the average chase thriller. What's notable here is the deft combination of wry British wit, skillful characterization, and flawless research, that makes this an adventure story worth reading for its intelligence and realism as well as its ample chills. As one of the character puts it, "Jolly good show."
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on April 7, 2002
Ken Follett was probably the best of this type back in the 70's; I would even go so far as to say that was his best period outside of The Pillars of the Earth. This book gives you a very good story that I found difficult to put down. Follett is great at developing his characters; you really get a feel for them. He also always gets the facts correct and is very generous with the historical items. He also writes a book that does not talk down to the lowest common denominator of the audience. This book is very good and one that should be read before many others of the same type.
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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.
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VINE VOICEon June 27, 2006
What would have happened if Germany had discovered the massive deception that made the D-Day invasion of Normandy possible? The Allies brilliant deception that led the Germans to believe the invasion would occur at Calais kept vital reinforcements from reaching Normandy in time to stem the invasion, but this misinformation campaign was so massive that it is hard to believe that no hint of it reached the Germans. But what if a deeply planted German spy had uncovered the truth? Follett extrapolates convincingly from the history of World War II to provide a thrilling tale of espionage. British counter-intelligence discovers evidence that a German spy is operating in London, and when they realize he knows the truth, a race is on to catch him before he can pass on his knowledge to Germany. The suspense builds steadily as the spy eludes trap after trap, leading to a climatic cliffhanger (literally) on a storm swept island off the coast of Scotland. This tale is not only exciting but also fully plausible, with vivid details about life in the United Kingdom during the War and a cast a well drawn characters. A thoroughly satisfying story.
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on May 4, 2006
I recently read Night Over Water and Pillars in the Earth and was taken by the lush ease into which Follett pulls his readers into his stories. So when I picked up Eye of the Needle, I was both kind of hoping it would be as good as the two previously mentioned books while at the same time feeling that no way could it live up to the high standards I was now placing Follett fare.

Sadly, Eye of the Needle is a bit of a mess in my opinion. From the get go it jumps around from one scene to the next with little in the way of transition. So though time is going by quickly at times, it is a little startling to find out several pages into a chapter that months have transpired when you think what you are reading is taking place only hours later. This is a very short book in comparison to Night over Water and a short story in comparison to Pillars in the Earth. And I think that it suffers a little because in all honesty, this might be the most complicated of the three stories. I wish that Follett had been a little more comfortable and taken his time fleshing out events, plots,and places.

This book is not a total disaster. You will come up against a myriad of familiar Follettisms. The characters area formed much like they are in other books so it will feel almost like you know them. Lusty scenes pop up every fifty pages like clockwork, and the writing is vintage Follett. If you love his books, this is not one to shy away from. But if this might be your first Follett experience, I would say "look for Pillars in the Earth instead. I guarantee you a better, more satisfying page turner."
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on July 2, 2006
Not all my favorite authors are as good to listen to as they are on the page - but EYE OF THE NEEDLE, unabridged, is the perfect companion to a long trip (try Idaho to San Francisco). I tend to read too fast, and listening let me savor the impeccable period detail, the complex characterization, and the Swiss-watch plotting. As fans know, this story is Lady Chatterly's Lover meets John Le Carré. Even if you've read the book a couple of times, do yourself a favor and listen to the audio version.
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on June 1, 2000
Follett creates a vivid image of WWII England in this spy thriller. It is a wonderful diversion from the techno-spy-thriller that you so often read today. While fiction, the plausibility of the story keeps the reader engaged start to finish. The book features a wonderful matching of wits between a cold-blooded Nazi spy and a professor-turned investigator. The sub-plots are riveting. This one's a page-turner!
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on September 10, 2002
The Needle
Ken Follet

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
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on September 27, 1998
Well, what can I say!? I mean, all those other reviews down there really tell what this book is like. Ken Follett at his best. And THAT is something, huh? "The Needle" Faber is the only german spy in english soil that can turn the war back for the Nazis, as he learned the secret that Churchill was hiding so well with the help of the americans. The book tells his adventures up the Brittany Island in order to contact a U-boat. The final sequency on Storm Island is something of a genious. Follett has written some very good thrillers about WWII, like this one and "Night over water". But his best still is "The key to Rebecca". Anyway, "Eye of the needle" is a page turner like Grisham in his early years, a book one with interests in spies and the War won't regret reading.
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on January 29, 2001
I don't have much experience with Ken Follett, nor this genre of books. But, I am a WWII-buff. This book is about a German spy that uncovers secrets that, if let out, would have turned D-Day into a catastrophe for the allies.
The book is well written and kept me awake several nights. If you are into Ken Follett and this kind of books, I think this is a good book for you. If you're a WWII-buff like myself, this really is a book you must read. It's not going to teach you something you didn't know, but it will put the D-Day preparations in a bit of a different light by telling you a story that just as well could have been true.
Definately worth the money.
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