Jackdaws / Ken Follett.
Booklist Monthly Selections - #2 September 2001
Follett is a very limited writer: he does plot-driven, breakneck-paced thrillers. That's all he does, but he does them very well. He's dead on-target this time, updating that World War II workhorse in which a gang of misfits goes behind Nazi lines to do the impossible. Yes, it's The Dirty Dozen, but here it's recast as The Dirty Half-Dozen, Girl Version. The impossible mission is to take out a German telephone exchange near Reims in the last few hours before D-Day. A full-frontal assault led by British SOE (Special Operations Executives) Felicity "Flick" Clariet and her husband, a French Resistance leader, has failed, leaving the Allies with only a last-minute desperation plan: a team of six women, posing as a cleaning detail, will infiltrate the exchange and dismantle it. Flick has only a few hours to round up her team, and she must choose from a handful of SOE rejects, as well as the odd prisoner and sharpshooting aristocrat. Outsiders for the twenty-first century, the assembled team includes two lesbians, a German transvestite, and a gypsy. All of this may sound like cliched melodrama, but when Follett starts the clock and slips the narrative gearshift into synchromesh, one's literary misgivings are abandoned in the wake of the plot's forward thrust. A handful of romantic subplots show Follett's weaknesses at dramatizing human relationships, but, fortunately, he knows not to dally overlong with the subtle stuff. This is not the equal of Eye of the Needle (one of the few times when Follett created a full-bodied character to go with a stunning story), but it is thoroughly entertaining all the same. A movie version with Madonna as the gypsy and Jamie Lee Curtis as the transvestite would seem a must. ((Reviewed September 15, 2001)) Copyright 2001 Booklist Reviews
LJ Reviews 2001 August #1
Charged with crippling communications in Europe before D-Day, Special Operations Executive "Flick" Clariet must pin her hopes on a group of nonprofessionals code-named the Jackdaws. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
LJ Reviews 2001 October #2
It is days before the Allied invasion of Normandy, and the all-woman operation "Jackdaws" is set to infiltrate Europe's largest telephone exchange and sabotage German communications. Felicity "Flick" Clariet, one of the few British female operatives working in France, heads the team, but her confidence has taken a beating: the previous operation that she directed was a disastrous failure, and her philandering husband has gone missing. Flick's nemesis, the ruthless and sadistic Nazi officer Dieter Franck, occasionally regrets the terrible things he does, but it doesn't stop him from pressing on. Nor does our heroine regret executing traitors, all the while falling in love with American Paul Chancellor. An exciting look at the dangerous world of courageous souls who confronted the Nazi monster in its lair, Follett's latest (after Code to Zero) will not disappoint fans. For all collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 8/01; BOMC main selection.] Robert Conroy, Warren, MI Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
PW Reviews 2001 October #3
Returning to the WWII setting of the novels that made him famous, Eye of the Needle and The Key to Rebecca, Follett (Code to Zero) delivers a very entertaining, very cinematic thriller about a ragtag, all-female band of British agents, code-named Jackdaws, sent to blow up a key telephone exchange in France on the eve of D-Day. Well, not quite all female: one "woman" recruited for the job by heroine Felicity Clairet, aka Flick, a major with the British Special Operations Executive, is a transvestite and that's just one among many twists that make this novel such fun. Opposed to Flick and her team are two Nazi villains whose escape from central casting doesn't keep them from playing their parts with zest: suave and urbane Maj. Dieter Franck, a master of psychological and physical torture, charged with breaking the Resistance in northern France, and Sturmbannfuhrer Willi Weber, brutal guardian of the chateau that houses the telephone exchange. The action runs over 10 days. After a failed assault by the Resistance on the chateau, an assault that introduces the novel's key players, Flick returns to England, racing the clock to recruit a team of women who can infiltrate the chateau by posing as its French domestics; among her selections are an imprisoned murderess, an aristocrat and that transvestite. The English scenes are interesting enough but lack suspense, which Follett supplies in spades by cutting to France, where Major Franck tracks Resistance members and gets wind of Flick's mission which, when at last underway, will enthrall readers. Adventure, romance, derring-do and a bit too much nasty violence crowd the pages of what promises to be one of Follett's most popular novels ever. Major ad/promo; simultaneous abridged and unabridged audio from Penguin Audio. (Dec. 3) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.