Books - Review


Showing all books by: Ken Follett

Triple
A MOSSAD agent, Dickstein, survivor of horrors in Nazi concentration camps, is given a mission to steal a shipload of uranium so that the Israelis can keep pace with the Arabs who are busy finishing their own nuclear bomb in Egypt. Along the way he meets a beautiful half-Arab girl with whom he falls in love - but is she is an agent for the Arabs?
I thought this was quite good, sad that 20 years on the Israelis are still fighting with the Palestinians. In fact it made quite good background material on causes of the conflict for poor ill-educated old me. Lots of death, double-dealing and some of those lovely sneaky manoeuvres designed to throw a shadow off the scent, that usually involve three taxis and a friendly shopkeeper.
Score: 7.5
Published: 1979
Read: December 6th 2002

Jackdaws
Flick, a beautiful (but tough and resourceful) British SOE agent spends most of her time behind enemy lines in Occupied France, doing her best to make life miserable for the Nazis. But her mission to destroy a vital communications hub goes horribly wrong when she is given duff intelligence from those oiks at MI6. But determined to finish the job properly before the Allies invade she gathers together a motley, nearly all-girl, crew of aristos, drag artists, cockney safe-blowers and murderers - the 'Jackdaws'. But she is up against a clever scheming German intelligence officer who captures and tortures agents as fast as they parachute in - who can she trust now?
Jolly good WW2 story, lots of deception, disguises, sten guns and a nasty Nazi torturer who gets his comeuppance in the end. Many of the good guys tragically die, but thats the grim reality of war for you I suppose.
Score: 7.5
Published: 2001
Read: December 7th 2002

The Third Twin
Dr Jeannie is doing research into nature vs nurture with sets of identical twins. But one twin she turns up is mysteriously accused of rape and arson. Ahaa! seems pretty obvious? But no - the other twin has been safe and sound in prison. And why is Professor Meanie so determined to diss the lovely and athletic Dr. J? Could it be that her research is about to turn up an unpleasant memory from the early days of Prof Meanie's experiments with trying to clone the perfect American? Just as he is trying to sell his genetics company for $180m? Oops, bad timing Prof Meanie!
Crumbs, this was really good, I seem to have read it in 1.5 days flat! Lots of good characters, just the right amount of tastefully depicted violence, fragments of DNA all over the place (any book that actually mentions adenine, cytosine, thymine, and the other one, has got to be good), some good cops, some bad cops, courtroom scenes, a cute (but intelligent and liberated, though sensitive) heroine, and some really bad baddies. Marvellous - nice one Ken!
Score: 8
Published: 1996
Read: February 7th 2003

The Pillars of the Earth
Rambling story of Prior Philip, Tom the builder and their efforts to build a new cathedral in 10th century England. Lots of setbacks, financial, social and political and battles, mostly caused by the stupid 'noble' family who live nearby and especially the revolting, vicious, jealous, nasty son, William.
The story rattled on quite well, but the dialogue and characters seemed very amateur.
Score: 6.5
Published: 1989
Read: March 4th 2009

World Without End
More soap opera set to a cathedral priory background, this time in the Middle Ages. Beginning with a group of kids witnessing a murder in the forest, the story follows the lives of the kids as they grow up and become bridge builders, entrepeneurs, serfs, farmers, nasty noblemen etc.
Good easy read - simple characters and simple plotlines, but entertaining. It is even possible to persuade yourself that there is a degree of educational historical accuracy.
Score: 7.5
Published: 2007
Read: October 3rd 2010

Hornet Flight
Harald is a Danish schoolboy in Nazi-occupied Denmark with a love for engineering and jazz, who more or less by accident gets recruited into the resistance. Pursued by a Danish policeman who cooperates with the Nazis and also has a personal vendetta against Harald's family, he has to take photographs of the new radar installations near his home and get them back to England before the next big British bomber raid is due. Fortunately he is helped by Karen, a beautiful ballerina prodigy, on whose castle property there happens to be a dilapidated de Havilland Hornet which he can fix and she can fly...
Good story, apparently based on a few different true incidents stitched together. Realistic in some ways perhaps (lots of the resistance people are killed) but not in others (18 year old schoolboy not only takes photos of the radar installations, rebuilds the aircraft, steals the fuel, refuels the plane in mid-air, deduces exactly how the radar system works and proposes the solution for the Brits to use - he also gets the girl). Entertaining though. Read on the way to Geoff's for golf/Romsey Rapids weekend.
Score: 6.5
Published: 2002
Read: August 26th 2012

Fall of Giants
The story of World War 1 and the Russian revolution from the perspective of different families from UK, Russia, Germany, America. Some basic political history including women's suffrage.
Nice easy reading, entertaining, plot racing along, little bit of historical accuracy - it's another Ken Follett! Yay!
Score: 7.5
Published: 2010
Read: July 2nd 2018