The Key to Rebecca

The Key to Rebecca

The Key to Rebecca

Ken Follett’s The Key to Rebecca took readers and critics by storm when first published more than fifteen years ago. Today, it remains one of the best espionage novels ever written.   A brilliant and ruthless Nazi master agent is on the loose in Cairo. His mission is to send Rommel’s advancing army the secrets that will unlock the city’s doors. In all of Cairo, only two people can stop him. One is a down-on-his-luck English officer no one will listen to. The other is a vulnerable yo

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3 Comments/Reviews

  • Jana L. Perskie "ceruleana" says:
    118 of 120 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    The Key To Rebecca = The Key To A Thrilling Suspenseful Read, July 18, 2003
    By 
    Jana L. Perskie “ceruleana” (New York, NY USA) –
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    “The Key To Rebecca” is one of Ken Follett’s most exciting suspense-thrillers. This novel has all the essential ingredients for an “unputdownable” read.

    The novel opens in 1942. World War II is raging, and German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel is having success after success with his Afrika Corps. The Nazis are planning to invade Cairo. The British are hunkering down, and doing everything possible to thwart the invasion. Rommel desperately needs access to British intelligence from their Headquarters in Cairo, in order to ensure his plan’s outcome. So Rommel sends a master spy into British occupied Egypt. The spy, known only as the “Sphinx,” covertly enters the country, and with a few mishaps, makes his way to Cairo. He has with him a radio, a code to transmit the information secretly, based on Daphne Du Maurier’s book “Rebecca,” and a piece of paper with the key to the code. Having spent much of his childhood in Cairo, the German-born spy, knows the city, language and many of its inhabitants well.

    The Sphinx’s task is not as easily accomplished as he once imagined. A British officer, Major Van Damme, with whom he shared past adversarial encounters, is soon on to him – and after him. Enter a beautiful Egyptian Jewess, Elene, who Van Damme wants to use as bait to capture the Nazi spy. Sparks fly between Van Damme and Elene from their first meeting, making it difficult for him to send her into danger. The cast also includes a famous, erotic, and somewhat depraved, belly dancer.

    The main plot, although complex, is very realistic and reads smoothly. The various subplots are fascinating, and are often related to historical fact, such as the Egyptian Free Officers Movement’s plot to subvert the British. This group of officers, headed by Gamal Abdul Nassar, and Anwar el-Sadat, plan to secretly side with the Germans, in order to rid Egypt of Britain’s presence. They strategize to exchange their support – (thus Egypt’s support), and throw in their cards with the Nazis, for postwar freedom for their country.

    Ken Follett is a master at creating lifelike characters. All of the book’s characters have their own past history, baggage and inner conflicts – and their own dreams and plans for the future. There is not a one-dimensional figure in the novel, even with the minor characters.

    The novel moves at an incredible pace, ending in an unbelievable, and mortally dangerous chase through the desert. Hold on to your seats for this one. I highly recommend “The Key To Rebecca,” and would have given it 4 1/2 stars, but that option is not open to me. I do like Follets “Pillars Of The Earth” and “Eye Of The Needle,” more – which decided me on 4 stars. Still, this is a thoroughly enjoyable and well written book.

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  • Mike C "motomike" says:
    50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    One of Follett’s best, December 13, 2002
    By 
    Mike C “motomike” (Richardson, TX USA) –

    I’ve read almost all of Ken Follett’s books and would rate this as his second best, behind Pillars of the Earth, and right up there with Eye of the Needle. It has the usual stock elements found in any thriller: an admirable hero, a despicable villain, a vulnerable but brave young girl, but infuses them with real humanity and builds to a crackling and suspenseful climax. As in other Follett books, he makes the conflict many-layered: The hero (Major Van Damme) wants to apprehend the villain (Alex Wolf) not only because it can have an effect on the progress of the second World War in Egypt, but because they have a past together, and because the girl he is falling in love with has been used as “bait” for Wolf. Shades of Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious.

    What I like about Follett’s best work is that it really delivers the suspense and resolves the story in an incredibly satisfying way. Like many spy novels, there are contrived situations, but he “gets you to turn over the next page” (Ian Fleming’s goal as author of the James Bond books) so eagerly that you just want to see how it ends. His female characters are far from cardboard as well: both of them are fully realized. And, best of all, he makes everyone vulnerable; he knows that we can identify with characters that have strengths and weaknesses, instead of the usual cast of robots exchanging gunfire from speeding cars.

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  • Magnus says:
    35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    smutty spy thriller, September 18, 2006
    By 
    Magnus (Chandler, Arizona USA) –

    Ken Follett is a very good tale-spinner and The Key to Rebecca has a promising premise.

    The setting is 1942 Egypt–Cairo is threatened by Rommel’s advancing army. German-born and Arab-raised, Alex Wolff is the perfect Nazi spy–calculating and ruthless. Almost perfect–Wolff has an eye for pretty girls. Wolff’s partner is Sonja el-Aram, a sensuous belly-dancer with a depraved mind–perfect for Wolff. Major William Vandam, a straight-laced British Intelligence officer who has seen better days, is hot on Wolff’s trail. To set the trap, he recruits Elene Fontana, a beautiful Jewish runaway with nothing to lose. Together Vandam and Elene must stop Wolff at any cost!

    The action is heart-pounding (typical Follett), the locations are beautifully described, and the key relationships are well-developed. My only two complaints are the brevity with which everything is resolved at the end and the overly graphic descriptions of some twisted sexual encounters. Please, leave some of that to the imagination next time!

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