Eye of the Needle

Eye of the Needle

4.1 192
by Ken Follett

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"One enemy spy knows the secret to the Allies' greatest deception, a brilliant aristocrat and ruthless assassin - code name: "The Needle" - who holds the key to ultimate Nazi victory." Only one person stands in his way: a lonely Englishwoman on an isolated island, who is beginning to love the killer who has mysteriously entered her life.  See more details below


"One enemy spy knows the secret to the Allies' greatest deception, a brilliant aristocrat and ruthless assassin - code name: "The Needle" - who holds the key to ultimate Nazi victory." Only one person stands in his way: a lonely Englishwoman on an isolated island, who is beginning to love the killer who has mysteriously entered her life.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Top-notch suspense…a terrific thriller…spellbinding."-The Miami Herald

"Great…One of the twelve best thrillers from the last fifty years."-Rocky Mountain News

"Extraordinarily satisfying…a truly suspenseful novel…heartstopping, nerve-freezing terror."-Los Angeles Times

"A spy novel of the highest order."-Baltimore Sun

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

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It was the coldest winter for forty-five years. Villages in the English countryside were cut off by the snow and the Thames froze over. One day in January the Glasgow-London train arrived at Euston twenty-four hours late. The snow and the blackout combined to make motoring perilous; road accidents doubled, and people told jokes about how it was more risky to drive an Austin Seven along Piccadilly at night than to take a tank across the Siegfried Line.

Then, when the spring came, it was glorious. Barrage balloons floated majestically in bright blue skies, and soldiers on leave flirted with girls in sleeveless dresses on the streets of London.

The city did not look much like the capital of a nation at war. There were signs, of course; and Henry Faber, cycling from Waterloo Station toward Highgate, noted them: piles of sandbags outside important public buildings, Anderson shelters in suburban gardens, propaganda posters about evacuation and Air Raid Precautions. Faber watched such things — he was considerably more observant than the average railway clerk. He saw crowds of children in the parks, and concluded that evacuation had been a failure. He marked the number of motor cars on the road, despite petrol rationing; and he read about the new models announced by the motor manufacturers. He knew the significance of night-shift workers pouring into factories where, only months previously, there had been hardly enough work for the day shift. Most of all, he monitored the movement of troops around Britain's railway network; all the paperwork passed through his office. One could learn a lot from that paperwork. Today, for example, he had rubber-stamped a batch of formsthat led him to believe that a new Expeditionary Force was being gathered. He was fairly sure that it would have a complement of about 100,000 men, and that it was for Finland.

There were signs, yes; but there was something jokey about it all. Radio shows satirized the red tape of wartime regulations, there was community singing in the air raid shelters, and fashionable women carried their gas masks in couturier-designed containers. They talked about the Bore War. It was at once larger-than-life and trivial, like a moving picture show. All the air raid warnings, without exception, had been false alarms.

Faber had a different point of view — but then, he was a different kind of person.

He steered his cycle into Archway Road and leaned forward a little to take the uphill slope, his long legs pumping as tirelessly as the pistons of a railway engine. He was very fit for his age, which was thirty-nine, although he lied about it; he lied about most things, as a safety precaution.

He began to perspire as he climbed the hill into Highgate. The building in which he lived was one of the highest in London, which was why he chose to live there. It was a Victorian brick house at one end of a terrace of six. The houses were high, narrow and dark, like the minds of the men for whom they had been built. Each had three stones plus a basement with a servants' entrance — the English middle class of the nineteenth century insisted on a servants' entrance, even if they had no servants. Faber was a cynic about the English.

Number Six had been owned by Mr. Harold Garden, of Garden's Tea and Coffee, a small company that went broke in the Depression. Having lived by the principle that in solvency is a mortal sin, the bankrupt Mr. Garden had no option but to die. The house was all he bequeathed to his widow, who was then obliged to take in boarders. She enjoyed being a landlady, although the etiquette of her social circle demanded that she pretend to be a little ashamed of it. Faber had a room on the top floor with a dormer window. He lived there from Monday to Friday, and told Mrs. Garden that he spent weekends with his mother in Erith. In fact, he had another landlady in Blackheath who called him Mr. Baker and believed he was a traveling salesman for a stationery manufacturer and spent all week on the road.

He wheeled his cycle up the garden path under the disapproving frown of the tall front-room windows. He put it in the shed and padlocked it to the lawn mower — it was against the law to leave a vehicle unlocked. The seed potatoes in boxes all around the shed were sprouting. Mrs. Garden had turned her flower beds over to vegetables for the war effort.

Faber entered the house, hung his hat on the hall-stand, washed his hands and went in to tea.

Three of the other lodgers were already eating: a pimply boy from Yorkshire who was trying to get into the Army; a confectionery salesman with receding sandy hair; and a refired naval officer who, Faber was convinced, was a degenerate. Faber nodded to them and sat down.

The salesman was telling a joke. "So the Squadron Leader says, 'You're back early!' and the pilot turns round and says, 'Yes, I dropped my leaflets in bundles, wasn't that right?' So the Squadron Leader says, 'Good God! You might've hurt somebody!"'

The naval officer cackled and Faber smiled. Mrs. Garden came in with a teapot. "Good evening, Mr. Faber. We started without you — I hope you don't mind."

Faber spread margarine thinly on a slice of wholemeal bread, and momentarily yearned for a fat sausage. "Your seed potatoes are ready to plant," he told her.

Faber hurried through his tea. The others were arguing over whether Chamberlain should be sacked and replaced by Churchill. Mrs. Garden kept voicing opinions, then looking at Faber for a reaction. She was a blowsy woman, a little overweight. About Faber's age, she wore the clothes of a woman of thirty, and he guessed she wanted another husband. He kept out of the discussion...

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Eye of the Needle 4.1 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 192 reviews.
gailannsoebbing More than 1 year ago
I was watching a documentary about thriller movies and it mentioned the 1981 movie "Eye of the Needle" which is based on the book. I found the description fasinating and then the next time I was at B&N I found the book (I wasn't even looking for it). It is an exciting novel with plot twists and suprises that could almost be plausible. Mix a little bit of history with fiction and you have yourself a roller coster ride. Reading the novel you keep thinking "How is he going to get out of this?" or "Will they get to him in time?" It is a very enjoyable book that I would recommend to anyone. All I have to do now is find the film. :-)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jimmyc776 More than 1 year ago
Eye of the Needle was a great book. It was always hard to put down. The Eye of the Needle takes place in world war II. The book plays with your mind a little because it goes into the mind of two main characters. One of the main characters is a professor hired by the British government the other is a Nazi spy. The Nazi spy's codename is the needle named after his stiletto he uses to kill his victims.Faber goes undercover as British civilians and gives out British secrets to Germany through radio. His real name is Faber and even though he kills innocent people and fights for the Nazis he has a conscious. Then there is professor Percival Godliman he is hired by the British government to track down Faber. In the book Percival is always one step behind Faber. Faber finds out crucial information that could effect the outcome of the war. He has to give this to Germany in person and after a series of events he ends up at a woman's house on a island with her husband who is a paralyzed British veteran. They end up falling in love. I give this book a 9 out of 10.
Monty Bradford More than 1 year ago
great read
XTC_Bojangles More than 1 year ago
Well paced and detailed, with interesting, as well as accurate, historical information. Satisfying conflicts, plot and conclusion. Worthwhile purchase.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An all time favorite - I read it every few years. Good story of the WWII era - what might have happened somewhere. Maybe it did? Her bravery is what I always remember about this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Spectacular! Not much else to say. Great suspense- his books demand all of the reader's attention from start to finish.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the movie and finally read the book. Being a huge fan of Follett, this story was all I expected it to be. Having Donald Sutherland's image in my head from the movie made it all the more enjoyable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When in doubt for a good night- read Follet. Like a date you wish wouldn't end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book took awhile to get where it needed to go, but it was an enjoyable read, especially if you like historical (WWII-era) fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ken Follett never disappoints.
HEMETGORF More than 1 year ago
Ken Follett's EYE OF THE NEEDLE combines an historically grounded story with characters that you feel you really know into an exciting tale of espionage leading up to D-Day. The plot is fast moving and has enough twists for the dedicated mystery fan and his characters are complete, multi-faceted, and have you caring for them from the beginning. It didn't hurt that I had recently read DOUBLE CROSS and therefore recognized much of the background for the story.
gb2 More than 1 year ago
Cannot wait to begin this Ken Follett novel; his other books are all excellent reads.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this is the 1st ken follett book i ever read over 20 yrs ago - it grabbed me then & it's doing the same right now.
Pheety More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the book. Hard to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a greathearttouching easy read.
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*sits ext to her and winks* how are you?
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent read, didn't want to put it down.
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TMS-CT More than 1 year ago
Simply,one terrific book to read. The book covers the time frame of about two years leading up to D-Day on June 6, 1944. A German spy's mission after being parachuted into England is to try and determine if and when and where an Allied invasion of Europe will take place. A ruthless killer,living a quiet life in England, he very nearly accomplishes his goal. Wonderful character development,you constantly worry who will win out as he pursues his goal to get the information he needs and get in back to Nazi Germany. I have since read two other books written by Ken Follett and I enjoyed each of them almost as much as Eye of the Needle. Tim Stevens