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JACKDAWS by Ken Follett

JACKDAWS

By Ken Follett

Pub Date: Dec. 3rd, 2001
ISBN: 0-525-94628-4
Publisher: Dutton

Another plumpish thriller from the Follett factory (Code Zero, 2000, etc.), this time featuring a sort of distaff dirty (half) dozen.

They don't come any tougher, smarter, braver, or, for that matter, deadlier than Major Felicity (call her “Flick”) Clairet. Quintessentially female and sexy as all get out, she kills without compunction if that's the way the mission goes. The year is 1944, ten days before the Allied assault on Normandy, and Flick, a world-class saboteur, is attached to a British special operations unit. In France, near Paris, the largest telephone exchange in Europe has to be knocked out if Nazi communications are to be as impaired as the Allies need them to be. Eager for the assignment, Flick, being Flick, is only momentarily nonplussed when she learns she has but a mere two days to recruit a team of six French-speaking Englishwomen, train them to jump out of an airplane, and pass them off as a local custodial staff. In company with Flick, they will then slip by gulled Gestapo guards and into the telephone exchange building in order to blow it to smithereens. Code-named Jackdaw, the hastily assembled team includes a convict awaiting trial for murder, an ex-safecracker with a particular affinity for gelignite, and an engineer who is also a transvestite. Opposing the Jackdaws will be fiendishly clever Major Dietrich Franck, late of Rommel’s staff, who is to captured British intelligence agents what Torquemada was to suspected heathens. And now the game's afoot: jackbooted Nazis against dissembling Jackdaws, devilish Dietrich versus tricky Flick. Bullets fly and blood flows while the fate of D-day hangs, obligatorily, in the balance.

Ersatz characters, featureless prose, departures from formula nil. But to the Follett faithful that's probably good news.