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Eye of the Needle

Written by: Ken Follett
Narrated by: Eric Lincoln
Length: 9 hrs and 16 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (26 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Edgar Award Winner, Best Novel, 1979

One enemy spy knows the secret of the Allies' greatest deception, a brilliant aristocrat and ruthless assassin - code name: "The Needle" - who holds the key to the ultimate Nazi victory.  

Only one person stands in his way: a lonely Englishwoman on an isolated island, who is coming to love the killer who has mysteriously entered her life.

This is Ken Follett's unsurpassed and unforgettable masterwork of suspense, intrigue, and dangerous machinations of the human heart.

©1978 Ken Follett (P)1985 Brilliance Audio

What the critics say

"Sheer suspense." ( Washington Post)
"Fans of old-time radio drama will particularly enjoy this full-cast version. Narrator Eric Lincoln proceeds smoothly, until the action starts cooking, and his urgency turns up the heat. The small ensemble creates a wide range of lead and supporting characters." ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Good Story and Likeable Characters

I listened to this book quite quickly. There are 3 story arcs that are interwoven, and each culminates in the end. It's definitely worth a listen. Less tradecraft stuff, and a bit of sexy time too.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Not my favorite Follett book

Interesting plot, but not my favorite Follett book. Narration was not ideal, felt he read through it quickly.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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Entrancing

Loved it! The author painted an engraving picture and I loved who the hero turned out to be.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Meh

Love the narrator for this one but to be honest, the story didn't captivate me the way this author's stories usually do.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • AudioAddict
  • 2013-11-11

Great Spy Thriller

STORY - First let me say that I normally avoid stories about Hitler and WWII, but this one caught my eye and I'm so very glad I listened to it. It starts off fast, stays good, and you will be on the edge of your seat by the end. While the background of the story is Europe during the war, the plot is about a German spy called The Needle who is trying to get a vital message to Hitler. On the other side, there are the efforts of a handful of main characters determined to find and stop him. There are no battle scenes, just lots of cat-and-mouse action with a little bit of romance tossed in. I've listened to about 100 books at this point, and this is one of my favorites.

PERFORMANCE - This is the first book I've heard where multiple voices were used conversationally (as opposed to reading entire chapters or diaries). It was a treat to hear men speaking as men and women as women, with all the different voices and accents. It wasn't perfect, though, because some of the voices sounded like they were in a tunnel when they were supposedly in the same room with the other speakers. All in all, though, I give them a five for the overall effort.

OVERALL - I can't imagine anyone not liking this book. (But there is sex and cursing, if that offends you).

41 of 42 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Arnold
  • 2009-10-15

On the edge of my seat

Eric Lincoln's narration was phenomenal. The female voices and accents of the various characters was superb. Follett's descriptive style was so vivid it left me breathless. It felt like I was reading a screenplay of a movie about Nazi espionage and I was part of the action. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is new to audio books. Thanks to the Audible sale, I stumbled upon a gem. I would pay full price for this fabulous audio book.

37 of 39 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Scott
  • 2010-06-06

A Classic WWII Spy Thriller

There's been some carping about a book that, apparently, has been updated. So if you only care for one voice, well, that's too bad. I prefer to here a real woman's voice even if it has been cut into the original narrator. The editing is SO well done (love the effect that makes sounds over phone & radio voices 'tinny').
It so fast paced, you'd never know it was done dubbed in as a 2nd release (If in fact that's true... I don't know.)
Also, I think the fact that Follett made the bad guy/spy a complete character, with somewhat conflicted emotions I'm sure might also bother those who suffered at the hands of the very evil Nazis. The antagonist isn't doing this out of fear for their families (however I am NO apologist for the Nazis) many regular Germans lived in fear of the war machine & SS if they didn't follow orders but the majority were simply turning blind eye to pure evil.
The spy in this book was in it for his Fatherland (never said in those words) BUT he is portrayed BRIEFLY as sympathetic when having doubts about some killing that needs doing.
I call that a REAL rounded character not the cardboard cutouts that pass for most Nazis in 98% of stories with that setting.
He's still pure evil.
Make no mistake this book is the first, and shows that Follett indeed has the talent that leads to his ongoing illustrious career.
So download this and hang on. I was on the edge of my ..uh.. earphones or speakers the entire ride. It is gripping Follett couldn't have picked a better secret to have on the line. Wow!

37 of 41 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Aaron
  • 2014-04-08

Historical WWII Fiction

- skip the preface-

"Eye of the Needle" is a study of one German Spy, who is deeply embedded in enemy territory. The secrets he has access to are important enough that both sides are willing to do almost anything to protect them. And while these events take place, the world moves on around them, occassionaly drawing-in people who happen to get in the way.

The author immerses us in a world of Bakelite, checkered skirts, and the impending war machine. However, for all of the descriptive backdrop, and rich details, he creates believable characters, exciting action sequences, and intriguing plot twists.

In short, it is everything you could want in an espionage novel.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Daniel McAfee
  • 2008-05-25

Just OK by Follett Standards

Based on comparisons to other Ken Follett novels, this one simply falls short.

Based on an overall comparison rating it is average to decent.

The audio production is not very good at all. The narrator is good (he starts off reading to fast, but later falls into step)...

BUT... the character voices are delivered by different readers, many of whom are NOT good at all (especially scenes that are supposedly live conversation in the same room - they sound like cutaways to a bathroom - ACTUALLY - SEPARATE bathrooms!!) The production person should be looking for a new job!

Anyway, if you're a Follett nut, save this one till last. It starts slow and the character development is very slow. The last two hours are typical Follett - good.

Read the others, they are better. The other two Follett WWII novels are much better, Hornet Flight (my favorite) and Jackdaws.

Slight thumbs up.. but only so slightly.

57 of 65 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Joe Bloggs
  • 2015-04-11

Into the mind of a Nazi Spy

What made the experience of listening to Eye of the Needle the most enjoyable?

Excellent historical accuracy. The author really captures the sentiment of the time.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I liked the history professor, but I also found The Needle interesting. The German spy makes this novel because he is absolutely cold blooded and calculating. Of course he tells himself that he is killing for his Country, but he even goes so far as killing a fellow spy because that spy might give him away. His only weakness is not killing a beautiful woman who saves his life, which becomes his downfall.

Which scene was your favorite?

I liked the scene where the woman defends herself in a cabin when the Needle is trying to get in. It's an all out war between them, even though the Needle doesn't want to hurt the woman. This scene is perhaps even a metaphor for the war between Germany and Great Britain.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I was a bit saddened when the man with no legs lost his fight with the Needle. I was hoping he would win and that would be the end of the Needle.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Andy Spooner
  • 2010-03-01

Quintessential thriller

Fast-paced and still fresh 30 years after publication. Excellent narration.

23 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • tigrrlily04
  • 2009-10-06

Exciting listen

I didn't like this as much as some as Ken Follett's other books, but it was still very good. It took a few hours to get into, but once he built up the plot it moved along at a good pace. This is the first audio book that I've listened to that has multiple narrators to represent the different characters, and it was weird at first but then I got used to it. The main narrator was excellent.

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Sander
  • 2013-03-18

Nice book but horrible narration

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

The book itself I'd recommend but not the audiobook version

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Narration is horrible with all the different voices, it sometimes sounds like a radio play which in my opinion is very distractive. Also you clearly hear the recording breaks as the voices continue with a slightly different sound.
I guess by todays standards it's not accepted.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • James
  • 2010-08-23

Catch The Needle if you can-Woo Hoo!

I wasn't expecting much from this book. I puchased it for $4.95 and I never read this type of espionage/crime drama, but the author yanked me in with a titillating chapter 1 that literally had me saying "Oh my God!" in the dark at midnight as he shocked me with the end of chapter 1. I couldn't go to bed on account of this book. It did not stop there. The characters were well developed, the language was rich and vivid and The Needle...well..he developed him so well that I have trouble deciding if he was a protagonist or an antagonist. This is war, right? He was fighting for his country and I found , in the end, that I did admire him. One caution- the narrator does read quite fast and the producer set this audiobook up to read like a 1940's "radio show". That's my theory anyway, with the way the voices come in and out with "poor" editing, the over the top accents, it reminds me of old radio shows I've heard. I found it never got in the way of the story except I really had to listen closely and had to rewind my IPOD with a few of the heavier accents which I was more than happy to do as the story was so good.

15 of 18 people found this review helpful