BOOK REVIEW BY ALEX GRANT
FOLLETTS 'HORNET FLIGHT '
'Rich in atmosphere and a top-notch
and espionage author Ken Follett has been writing mass-appeal pulpy
novels for 25 years, and first made an impact with the World War Two
book EYE OF THE NEEDLE . In 2001 he reverted to WW II with his
glib and superficial French Resistance yarn JACKDAWS, a distaff version
of THE DIRTY DOZEN. Highly entertaining JACKDAWS was also preposterous
and unashamedly hackneyed.
By way of contrast his latest and 17th book HORNET FLIGHT, set in Nazi-occupied
Denmark in 1941, is a heartfelt and sincere moving tribute to those
Danes who chose to resist their German occupiers.
Harald Olufsen age 18 is a gifted schoolboy with a genius for mechanical
problems and a longing to become a renowned physicist. A resident of
the island of Sande off the coast of Denmark,where his father is a priest
, Harald becomes a key figure in the reluctant espionage intrigues of
his brother Arne, a devil-may-care flight instructor, and the other
"Nightwatchmen" :members of a clandestine underground resistance
group formed by Arnes lover Hermia Mount ,a British M16 intelligence-analyst
brought up in Denmark by her diplomat father. She illegally enters Denmark
at great personal risk to salvage the remnants of her network.
The British bomber squadrons were being decimated by the German Luftwaffe
thanks to the superior version of radar perfected by German scientists.
Such a lethal installation has been built on Sande Island. Harald, being
fascinated by any engineering feat, becomes familiar with this secret
base and after several of the Nightwatchmen fall foul of the authorities
he, aided by young Jewess Karen Duchwitz , is the only hope to convey
vital photographs of the secret radar installation to Britain.
Rich in atmosphere and a top-notch cliff-hanger that remains psychologically
plausible throughout HORNET FLIGHT depicts a critical period in European
history when Hitlers invasion of The Soviet Union could have led
to the Nazis utter domination of Europe and of Asia. Winston Churchill
hopes to sabotage the German occupation of Russia by successfully bombing
Germany back into the Stone Age. Crucial data about German radar proficiency
will permit British bombers to return largely unscathed from their vital
sorties over the Fatherland.
Much of Folletts latest story is allegedly true-to-life and it
is a novel that will appeal to any reader over 15 years of age. There
are several highly convincing sexual encounters that are equally true-to-life
and truly inoffensive. The brutality and ruthlessness of the Nazis is
implied and understated effectively. All told a novel that avoids clichés
and captures an era persuasively.
© Alex Grant 2003
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