Eye of the Needle

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Overview

"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.

An extraordinary World War II German agent with secret information about the Allied D-Day landing waits at an English lighthouse to be picked up by a submarine and ...

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Overview

"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.

An extraordinary World War II German agent with secret information about the Allied D-Day landing waits at an English lighthouse to be picked up by a submarine and becomes sidetracked by an affair with a paraplegic's wife. 2 cassettes.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405004930
  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan
  • Publication date: 10/13/2002
  • Format: CD

Meet the Author

Ken Follett is the author of numerous international bestsellers, including Jackdaws, Hornet Flight, Code to Zero, Triple, Eye of the Needle, Pillars of the Earth, and A Dangerous Fortune. He lives in England.

Biography

As a young boy growing up in Cardiff, Wales, Ken Follett's love for all things literary began early on. The son of devoutly religious parents who didn't allow their children to watch television or even listen to the radio, Follett found himself drawn to the library. It soon became his favorite place -- its shelves full of stories providing his escape, and ultimately, his inspiration.

Follett's more formal education took place years later at London's University College, where he studied philosophy -- a choice that, as he explains on his official Web site, he believes guided his career as an author. "There is a real connection between philosophy and fiction," Follet explains. "In philosophy you deal with questions like: ‘We're sitting at this table, but is the table real?' A daft question, but in studying philosophy, you need to take that sort of thing seriously and have an off-the-wall imagination. Writing fiction is the same."

After graduating in 1970, a journalism class touched off Follett's career as a writer. He started out covering beats for the South Wales Echo, and later wrote a column for London's Evening News. Becoming more and more interested in writing fiction on evenings and weekends, however, Follett soon realized that books were his true business, and in 1974 he went to work for Everest Books, a humble London publishing house.

After releasing a few of his own novels to less than thunderous acclaim --including The Shakeout (1975) and Paper Money (1977) -- Follett finally hit it big with 1978's Eye of the Needle. The taut, edgy thriller with more than a dash of sex appeal flew off the shelves, winning the Edgar award and allowing Follett to quit his job and get to work on his next book, Triple. Showing no signs of a sophomore slump, Triple went on to spark a string of bestselling spy thrillers, including The Key to Rebecca (1980), The Man from St. Petersburg (1982), and Lie Down with Lions (1986). 1983's On Wings of Eagles was an interesting departure -- a nonfiction account of how two of Ross Perot's employees were rescued from Iran in 1979.

Follett changed direction even more sharply in 1989, surprising fans with The Pillars of the Earth -- a novel set in the Middle Ages many critics considered his crowning achievement. "A novel of majesty and power," said The Chicago Sun-Times of Follett's epic story. "It will hold you, fascinate you, surround you."

Follett's next three books were a trio considered to be more suspenseful than thrill-filled -- Night Over Water (1991), A Dangerous Fortune (1993) and A Place Called Freedom (1995), but The Third Twin (1996) and The Hammer of Eden (1998) marked a return to Follett's trademark capers. The wartime novels Code to Zero (2000) and Jackdaws (2001) showcased Follett's "unique ability to tell stories of international conflict and tell them well," according to Larry King in USA Today.

Follett "hits the mark again" (Publishers Weekly) with his latest story of international intrigue, Hornet Flight (2002) -- the WWII story of a young couple trying to escape occupied Denmark in a rebuilt Hornet Moth biplane who become unwitting carriers of top-secret information.

In a way, Follett's smash-hit success has allowed him to give back to the library of Cardiff, Wales -- by filling its shelves with his own transporting tales.

Good To Know

Eye of the Needle was made into a major motion picture, and four of Follett's books have been made into television mini-series: The Key to Rebecca, Lie Down with Lions, On Wings of Eagles and The Third Twin -- the rights for which were sold to CBS for the record sum of $1,400,000.

A very civic-minded soul, Follett is quite involved in his Hertfordshire community, serving as President of the Dyslexia Institute, Council Member of the National Literacy Trust, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Chair of Governors of the Roebuck Primary School & Nursery, Patron of Stevenage Home-Start, director of the Stevenage Leisure Ltd. and Vice-President of the Stevenage Borough Football club.

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    1. Hometown:
      Hertfordshire, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 5, 1949
    2. Place of Birth:
      Cardiff, Wales
    1. Education:
      B.A. in Philosophy, University College, London, 1970

Read an Excerpt

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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First Chapter

Eye of the Needle

Chapter One

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 forms that 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...

Eye of the Needle. Copyright © by Ken Follett. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 185 )
Rating Distribution

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(75)

4 Star

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(26)

2 Star

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(8)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 185 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A brilliant "What If" Thriller

    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. :-)

    15 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Eye of the needle review by jimmy carlson

    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.

    12 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2012

    Very good book.

    Very good book. I was reading Spy Counter-Spy at the saME TIME AND IT WAS INTERESTING HOW ONE BOOK TALKED ABOUT AN INCIDENT AND THE OTHER BOOK CONFIRMED IT (EVEN THOUGH EYE OF THE NEEDLE WAS FICTION AND SPY COUNTER-SPY WAS NOT.

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2012

    Excellent

    I had forgotten what a marvelous author Follett is. Great stories and given the background, you learn so much as well. His books are hard to put down.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2011

    His best

    great read

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2013

    O

    Just wanted to personally thank jimmyc776 for giving away the ending! Now there is no use to buy the book! Thanks...insert heavy sarcasm here.

    4 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Good espionage thriller

    Well paced and detailed, with interesting, as well as accurate, historical information. Satisfying conflicts, plot and conclusion. Worthwhile purchase.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2013

    Very Good!

    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.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2013

    Very goodeasy read

    This is a greathearttouching easy read.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2013

    Love Ken Follet, love this book the best!

    Spectacular! Not much else to say. Great suspense- his books demand all of the reader's attention from start to finish.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2013

    Eye of The Needle

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2004

    Disappointing and Inaccurate

    This book provides a highly glamorized view of the war and the Allies, while proving inadequate at displaying the genius and talent of the German espionage operatives. For a truthful account of the German spy network, read 'Agent 146' by Erich Gimpel.

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2013

    What if...?

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2013

    Highly recommended

    Ken Follett never disappoints.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 30, 2013

    A genuine page turner for me.

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 25, 2013

    Highly recommend Ken Follett!

    Cannot wait to begin this Ken Follett novel; his other books are all excellent reads.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2013

    highly recommended

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 23, 2013

    Enjoyable read

    Enjoyed the book. Hard to put down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2014

    Masterful work

    Although i've read this book some years ago, The Eye of the Needle is by far the best spy novel that I've ever read in lieu of Ian Flemmings, Robert Ludlum to John le Carre's work. Ken Follett is a masterful savant writer by blending in the verisimilitude of history, war, spontaneous love and affection with ESPIONAGE! A genius work that I gave a 5 out if 5!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 5, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Ken Follett at the top of his game. This is the book that "

    Ken Follett at the top of his game. This is the book that "made" Follett, his first breakout bestseller, and there's no question why that happened once you start to read.

    In many ways, Eye of the Needle sets the pattern for his most successful efforts other than Pillars of the Earth: a deadly secret, a resourceful navigator of the shadow world of intrigue (sometimes the protagonist, sometimes the villain), at least one determined woman in the thick of it, and multi-party chases set against a ticking clock. All these devices work together seamlessly in this book. Follett even makes the saving-the-D-Day-secret plot thread seem fresh.

    Follett's WWII-based novels have always felt stronger to me than the others (again, with the exception of Pillars of the Earth); his settings in wartime England and occupied Europe are assured and immersive in a way some of his more modern settings are not. A few familiar tropes sneak in (the tweedy-professor-as-spycatcher, for instance, which Daniel Silva also used in The Unlikely Spy), although in 1978 they weren't as overused as they are now.

    If you haven't read Follett before, you should start with Eye of the Needle and his next bestsellers, Triple and The Key to Rebecca. If you only know him from Pillars of the Earth, your reaction to these books will depend on whether you enjoy spy thrillers as much as you do multi-generational Medieval epics. In any case, don't turn up your nose at these because they're thirty years old; they'll still show you a good time today.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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