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Jackdaws (2006)

Jackdaws (2006)

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3.87 of 5 Votes: 5
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0451219597 (ISBN13: 9780451219596)

About book Jackdaws (2006)

Full video review here : have always found Ken Follett too verbose but this book was an excellent fast read with a great female lead character. Flick Clairet is one of a select group of women helping the French Resistance during the final years of the Second World War. She is married to a French man, the leader of the resistance in Reims and in the opening sequence we see a group of them fail to overcome a telephone exchange that is crucial to the Germans. 

Several of the local resistance members are captured, tortured and a German intelligence officer is able to start unravelling the underground team there. He is a ruthless torturer although we also see his cultured side and his love for a Jewish mistress. He even gets terrible migraines when he has to torture people so Follett manages to create a villain who is still believable and not a caricature of the evil Nazi.After the failure of the team, Flick is determined to get back to the exchange and blow it up, creating a critical gap in communications at the same time as the Allied forces invade. The timing is crucial and the book is basically her mission back to Reims in order to accomplish this task. The only way in is to recruit other women to act as an all-female team disguised as cleaners. In that way they can get into the exchange and blow up the communications. The women Flick recruits have been rejected by other services and are generally unsuitable, a ragtag bunch including a convicted murderer, a Cockney explosives expert thief, a lesbian aristocrat and a transvestite whose lover had been killed by the Germans. The journey the women take, the danger they get into is the crux of the story. No spoilers but as in real life, they don’t all make it.Flick is characterized as a hard soldier in that she is able to shoot a traitor and and fight in hand to hand combat, but she also has a softer side and is able to love and think about marriage. I like these types of characters and she made the story believable. She and Dieter, the Nazi interrogator are by far the strongest characters in the book and it really was a battle between these two throughout the book.Although you know that of course the Allies will win in the end, you still don’t know until the last pages whether the team will survive. I enjoyed the book, reading it on a windy, wild Auckland day in pretty much one sitting. It’s a thriller with an intelligent female heroine. Recommended!

I am quite new to Ken Follett, having only recently read Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, both of which really caught my imagination. Jackdaws while it is more superficial than the epic Pillars of the Earth, is a very good engrossing story. An all female (well female-ish) team of special operative made up of the deluded, the dangerous and the brave, all of who would never be considered suitable for general duties or have already been rejected, parachute into France having trained for just a few days, with a mission to destroy a vital hub that could cripple the effective communication of the Nazis. These women, some of become close (very much so..) have to bond, and work together, each having their own reasons for wanting to be there, knowing it is unlikely all will return alive.Each of the characters are well described and as a reader I found myself becoming quite attached to each, even the villains, which I think is quite clever of Follett, to make the villain just as human as the hero.Some reviewers have mentioned that the story is unrealistic, fantasy in fact. I couldn't disagree more. The fact remains there is much evidence to show operations like this took place, put together in little or no time, with characters that make those in this book seem like the Women's Institute tea ladies in comparison. So have an open mind, but rest assured stories like this exist in the reality of the Second World War even more so than in today's historical fiction.An enjoyable book, with some great colourful characters and an exciting attention grabbing story.

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I picked this up on holiday because I'd read through the books I'd brought and this was the only one among the English-language secondhand paperbacks at the hotel I thought I could stand. It's okay, for what it is. Follett keeps the adrenaline going, but there's not much else here. The main characters are all impossibly good-looking and/or bursting with raw sexual energy (one can practically cast it with the appropriate Hollywood A-listers as one reads). The plot is full of twists, as one would expect, but the decision to connect it with the D-Day invasion limits the potential for suspense; I mean, we know the invasion happened and it worked, and if the destruction of this telephone exchange plays a role in it then it has to succeed, too, right? The only real question is exactly who will die along the way, and I didn't care about or believe in any of the characters enough to get too anxious about their survival, and most of the deaths were pretty predictable. The book is full of clunky writing. This is just one bad sentence in a book full of bad sentences: "Beautiful women were like the gorgeous French impressionist paintings he collected: having one did not stop you wanting another." Ugh. A stupid cliche, overloaded with adjectives, and quite typical of the book overall. If all you require is adrenalin and you don't care about character or writing or, well, anything else, it's adequate junk reading. Graham Greene and John Le Carre do spy thrillers far, far better, of course, but I'd have been pretty surprised to find a book by either of them in the stack in my Mexican hotel.

Another good one from KF. I somehow missed these back when I was going through his books. This one is set in the month before D-Day in France. The British secret service is trying to disable a key Nazi telephone and communications center. Strong and deep characters, a lively plot, a great read. Gawd, the Nazis are a vile stain on humanity. I am embarrassed to see some of the things they did popping up here in the US, though in perhaps a slightly altered form (wearing a different coat, more correctly). People forget that the Nazis were elected before they pulled the full psycho takeover. They subverted democracy in a planned fashion- brilliantly subverted democracy. History repeats. I hope the cycle is not speeding up and bringing us back to this place, though for the most part what I see indicates that is the case.

This offering of Ken Follett, while not up to Eye of the Needle or The Pillars of the Earth was nevertheless a good book to have on a trip with many delays due to weather and mechanical problems.It chronicles the travails of a group of British women who are tasked to destroy a German telephone exchange just before D-Day, important because it was the main conduit for most of the military phone traffic between France and Berlin .The plot is well-developed but I find Follett's characterizations to be a little less than believable. I like my heroes to have more warts. My two biggest problems with the story are the incredible number of coincidences that work in the saboteurs' favor and the various love interest sub-plots that add melodrama but very little else to the narrative.While certainly better than some of his later offerings like Code to Zero, This book did not motivate me to read more of Follett's work than I have already read.

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