The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follet


A handsome British man runs out of the Egyptian sand dunes dragging a beautiful girl by the hand. Kaboom. Something explodes behind them. That’s certainly the feel of this WWII spy novel from Ken Follet, if not an actual scene.

Sounds like a Bond film, and in many ways it’s not dissimilar. The Key to Rebecca is all the elements you want in a spy story; hardened hero, glamorous love interest, exotic location, characterful villain and double crossing.

It’s almost paint by numbers- which sounds damning but actually should be real credit to Follet who manages to balance almost implausible dramatic sequences (be they action or seduction) with meaningful characters. I’m so carried away that I never stop to realise ‘this is ludicrous, why don’t they phone ahead?’ or whatever, as I do with so many other spy novels.

Plus Follet seems fairly aware of the genre he’s writing in with the odd arched eyebrow here and there to acknowledge it: a characters who loves detective fiction or a line of dialogue about trench coats.

Yes, it’s over the top- Field Marshall Rommel is part of the plot. However, along with his completely different The Pillars of The Earth series, it shows he sure can write popular fiction whatever the genre.

Read: For a postmodern Bond.

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