But first, I should like to tell you something about it. The title refers to a German spy who was working behind British lines during the second world war. His nickname is Die Nadel, or the needle, because he is about the only spy that the Germans have working for them who is not a complete amateur.
This seems hard to believe, until one realizes that when the Abwehr (German secret intelligence) was re-organized in 1938 by the head of the agency, Admiral Canaris, he took care to surround himself with hand-picked men who were not members of the Nazi Party. The reason? So that he could engage in various plots to assassinate Hitler.
Thus, Follett’s character Die Nadel, the brilliant and ruthless Prussian aristocrat fulminates against the amateur blunderings of his compatriots sent over to Britain to do some mischief on behalf of the Nazis.
Which brings me to the problem with this wonderfully taut novel. Why in the world, does Die Nadel act as he does just before the end of the novel? (I don’t want to be more specific so as not to spoil it for future readers). It seemed so unmotivated, and it spoiled the ending for me. Four and a half stars.