The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett was Follett’s second book and a major succuess. They made a TV movie of it starring David Soul, which I’ve already complained about. I don’t think I’ll watch it, even if I can find it, because I’m just not interested. The plot: a German man adopted by an Egyptian grows up familiar with both European and Egyptian ways, including those of his nomadic cousins. We meet him as he’s almost finished crossing the desert from Libya. No easy feat. But Alex Wolff is all that and a bag of chips and so he makes it through with his radio and his suitcase full of cash. Unfortunately for him, he meets an overly helpful English officer which forces him to kill a man. Thus his slipping into Egypt does not go completely unnoticed. The British are alert and the only place Wolff can find to stay is with his ex, the sexiest belly dancer in Egypt. She hates him, but she cannot conquer her lust for him. Reunited and it feels so bad. Now, to be a spy, at least a successful spy, you need access to some secrets. I’ve complained about this too, already. He starts off attempting to steal some, but realizes that’s not a long term solution, so he devises a plan to get access on a regular basis.
The book is entertaining. Follett seems to have had a good time writing it with two extraordinarily sexy women, two different types of cool alpha males in a game of cat and other cat. There wasn’t a whole lot of spying. I’m not sure why it took readers by storm in 1980. The somewhat sadistic relationship they hope to turn into a trio? The hooker with a heart of gold? Actually, I like her. Not so much a hooker as a kept woman who’s tired of that life. She has brains and guts and doesn’t run around screaming and fainting. All of the main characters actually do, which is a thing I like about it. Vandam probably being the least brainy main character, though he’s not an idiot. Anyway, I believe most people would enjoy this book. There’s some spy stuff, some action, some sex. It’s not badly written. It just didn’t grip me. And that probably says more about me than about it. I’m generally not into action novels. I will add some spoilers after the picture, so stop here if you don’t want to know.
Here there be spoilers: So, my major beef with Vandam – they’ve captured a German intelligence post and discovered from what the Nazis didn’t manage to burn, that there is a spy in Cairo getting hold of their battle plans and sending them to Rommel. Naturally, they don’t know who or how, but they know there’s a very serious leak. Vandam still thinks, and no one else corrects him, that he needs to capture Wolff and the key and then send the coded disinformation himself. When no, it would be so much easier to give the wrong information out to the officers and let it get to Wolff via whatever the usual manner is and let Wolff radio the wrong info. They’re supposed to be in intelligence! But no, they release their real plans in the usual way. As far as I can tell they don’t try to change a thing. That just seems stupid to me and then it’s one long chase. Bah. Also, when Wolff fools them on the first date with Elene, they assume he will meet her when and where he says on the second. Should have seen that coming. End spoilers.
I also keep wondering it there were houseboats in 1942 Cairo with indoor plumbing. Perhaps if I read more of these I’d appreciate how much better Follett is than the others, but no that seems painful.
Tonight is the Reverse Readathon. Dewey’s in summer starting 12 hours earlier than regular Dewey’s. This would be just dandy except I’ll be out for the beginning and end. It’s a shame, but I will start tonight on Fog of Doubt when I get back. Another chapter-by-chapter extravaganza and I’ll try not to cop out in the end.