Higgins, Jack. The Eagle Has Landed. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1975.
Reason read: Higgins was born in the month of July.
The entire premise of The Eagle Has Landed is based on the fact that a small group of German paratroopers had safely arrived in England and were about to do the unthinkable, they were about to kidnap Winston Churchill. If Mussolini can be rescued from an enemy hotel then surely Churchill could be taken while on a discreet “vacation.”
There is so much to like about The Eagle Has Landed (code for Liam Devlin’s safe drop into enemy territory). There is also so much that could potentially go wrong with Higgins’s technique. First, the frame narrative is the author, Jack Higgins himself, researching a botched attempt to kidnap the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill during the final moments of World War II. Giving away the plot in the very beginning of a novel is a risky move. where is the suspense? Why read on knowing the Germans failed? Second, the majority of the story is told from the point of view of the antagonists. Why be on their side?
Why care about the enemy? Because Liam Devlin is an irresistible bad guy. You want him to succeed and you don’t know why. He’s a charming cad; the kind of guy everyone loves to hate. That’s why. You keep reading because Higgins has spun the plot. Yes, you may know the Germans failed to kidnap Churchill but…did Devlin survive?
The one line that caught my eye and mind: “Words become meaningless, the mind cuts itself off from reality for a little while, a necessary breathing space until one is ready to cope” (p 18).
Author fact: Higgins also wrote The Eagle Has Flown, also on my list. His (supposedly) most famous book, Eye of the Needle, is not on my list.
Book trivia: The Eagle Has Landed is based on true events. According to Higgins, “at least” fifty percent is fiction but the reader must decide for herself how much of the rest is a “matter of speculation.”
Nancy said: Nancy called the stories of Jack Higgins “some of the best World War II thrillers” (p 253). I would definitely agree.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “World War II Fiction” (p 253).