review written and read live on the show by Brian Lowen 12th June 2014
This is the first novel produced by KF that really made his name.
The story is set during the second world war, coming up to D Day when the allied armies were preparing to invade France. Obviously it was important to keep secret the invasion plans and where the landings would be made on the coast of Europe.
In order to fool the Germans into thinking the invasion would be made across the straits of Dover into Calais a big deception was launched. A complete army was built in East Anglia. It looked like an army from the air but it was actually just shells of barrack huts and rubber pump up tanks and aircraft made out of plywood.
MI5 is tasked with eliminating any German spies in England that might have discovered this big deception and they were very successful, but one escaped their notice. This was a master spy, a personal friend of Hitler, who went under the code name of Die Nadal – the Needle. He had arrived in England in 1939 and taken up lodgings in London from where he could transmit messages back to Germany. He was known as Faber in England and spoke good English and used his time before the war started to perfect his accent and knowledge of the language.
He is tasked by Hitler to check on this army build up in Norfolk. And so he makes his way there and discovers the truth about the phantom forces and takes a reel of film to prove it.
He is discovered and has to kill several home guard people and this alerts MI5 to the fact that a spy is on the ground in this restricted area.
And so the hunt is on to catch him before he can get his film back to Germany. The chase is thrilling as he makes his way up to Scotland where he is due to be picked up by a U Boat off the east coast near Aberdeen.
The story reaches its thrilling climax on a remote island off the coast of Scotland which has just two cottages, one inhabited by a family comprising a disabled husband with his wife and young son plus an old shepherd living in the other cottage at the other end of the island.
The climax is very thrilling, raising your heart beat, as you empathise with the characters and will them on to succeed, and you can see why this book was such a great success and led KF on to write so many more great stories.
The story about the spy is fictional but the rest is fact and the Nazis were duped into thinking the invasion would be across the Dover Straits.
A great book, thoroughly recommended.