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Hacktreks 2

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'Rich in atmosphere and a top-notch

British suspense 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 [1978]. 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 Arne’s 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 Hitler’s invasion of The Soviet Union could have led to the Nazi’s 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 Follett’s 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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