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The Key to Rebecca Paperback – February 4, 2003

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The Key to Rebecca + Eye of the Needle + Edge of Eternity: Book Three of The Century Trilogy
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: NAL Trade; Reprint edition (February 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451207793
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451207791
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (345 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Brilliant…breathless high adventure.”—Time
“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
“The most exciting novel in years.”—The Cincinnati Enquirer


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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The book keeps you guessing until the end.
A. K. Meyer
Probably the best book I have read of Ken Follett's of this type.
Good character development and interesting story.
Katheryn Kniskern

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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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73 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Mike C on December 13, 2002
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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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Rebekah Sue Harris VINE VOICE on March 27, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
OK, so I bought it for the title. :)
I've been reading for over twenty-five years, and only discovered Ken Follett within the past three months!
His historical fiction is sharply detailed, but isn't overbearing or over my head. The characters in "The Key to Rebecca" are real enough that you love them, hate them, root for them, hope they get captured. They're clever -- perhaps more clever than the characters in "real" life upon whom they're based.
Buy it for the fabulous storytelling. Enjoy the history lesson that's interesting even to someone who didn't enjoy history in school. Wish that a sequel had been written.
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65 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 18, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ken Follett is a very good tale-spinner and The Key to Rebecca has a promising premise.

The setting is 1942 Egypt--Cairo is threatened by Rommel's advancing army. German-born and Arab-raised, Alex Wolff is the perfect Nazi spy--calculating and ruthless. Almost perfect--Wolff has an eye for pretty girls. Wolff's partner is Sonja el-Aram, a sensuous belly-dancer with a depraved mind--perfect for Wolff. Major William Vandam, a straight-laced British Intelligence officer who has seen better days, is hot on Wolff's trail. To set the trap, he recruits Elene Fontana, a beautiful Jewish runaway with nothing to lose. Together Vandam and Elene must stop Wolff at any cost!

The action is heart-pounding (typical Follett), the locations are beautifully described, and the key relationships are well-developed. My only two complaints are the brevity with which everything is resolved at the end and the overly graphic descriptions of some twisted sexual encounters. Please, leave some of that to the imagination next time!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By john purcell on October 21, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ken Follett's The Key to Rebecca is a classic WWII thriller pitting the Nazi super-spy Alexander Wolff against a renegade forlorn Englishman Vandamm. It is set in the early days of the war in colonial Egypt. Follett is doing us a service here as Americans are generally unaware of the North African phase of the war, since our major involvement really came later. Few rememember that the French in North Africa, after the fall of France, fought American and especially British forces, but let's leave that story for another day.

In 1942, Egypt was a British colony, with strong nationalist forces chafing under the control of the Turkish king, installed by the British. Egyptian nationalists, led by Sadat and Nasser, saw little difference between British and German colonial rule, and typically aided the Germans in this theatre. Sadat is a minor character in Follett's book.

Into this quagmire appear Alexander Wolff, born of German mother and Egyptian father, trained by the Germans in the latest espionage techniques; and Major Vandamm, a minor British military intellligence official burdened with personal grief and moronic superiors. Wolff successfully establishes a direct link into British intelligence by his clever manipulation of a belly dancer and another British officer. With this information, Rommel is beginning to rout the British.

Fortunately for us Anglos, Vandamm devises a honey trap to snare the Nazi. His instrument is a young Jewish girl who is terrified at the prospect of Nazis in Cairo.

All in all, a well crafted thriller. Follett uses the historical context and byzantine relationships of the colonial era to great advantage. It is not a great work, as some parts are a bit formulaic and easy to predict, but read it for the history and the adventure.
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