About Me

My photo
Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Hornet Flight by Ken Follett

Hornet Flight by Ken Follett (2002) – Last Christmas my son Michael, who had just returned from a semester of law school at the University of Copenhagen on exchange from the University of Calgary, knowing my long term interest in WW II gave me this book and Hitler’s Savage Canary by David Lampe as Christmas presents. I have now completed both books.

In this post will be my review of Hornet Flight. I will follow up with a post reviewing Hitler’s Savage Canary. I will go on with a post about the fictional flight and a real life flight from Denmark to England. I will close the quartet of posts with a post on a series of comments regular commenter, Kathy D., and I exchanged some time ago concerning the Resistance in WW II occupied Europe.

Hornet Flight opens in the spring of 1941. England has survived the Blitz and is looking to hit back at Germany with its only offensive weapon – heavy bombers – but the bombing campaign is not going well because the Nazis appear to be able to electronically track the bombers. While the English do not believe the Germans are ahead of them in the development of radar they do not know how the bombers are being targeted. With losses mounting to unsustainable levels Churchill orders British intelligence to find out how the Germans are finding the bombers.

In Denmark the population is adjusting to life under their German occupiers. Most are going about their lives as they did before Germany took over the country. Some have joined a Resistance movement which is gradually becoming organized. Others are Danish Nazis.

Harald Olufsen is a high school student who has grown up on the island of Sande just off the west coast of Denmark near Morelunde. His father, Bruno, is the pastor of the island church. His congregation has moved from Evangelical Lutheranism to a more “uncompromising puritanism”. Harald’s older brother, Arne, is a flying instructor in the Danish Army Aviation Troops. With his love of jazz Arne is drifting away his father’s religion.

Arne is engaged to Hermia Mount. She is English and spent several years in Denmark before the war. Now in England she is in British Intelligence. She has set up the Nightwatchmen, one of the first Resistance networks in Denmark. Uneasy that Arne’s gregarious personality is unsuited to intelligence work she has not recruited him.

After learning of Churchill’s directive Mount seeks to assist in determining how the Germans are locating the bombers.

Karen Duchwitz is a lovely young Jewish ballet student. Her wealthy banker father still has his businesses and estate. She knows Harald and Arne through her brother.

Copenhagen police officer, Peter Flemming, has also grown up on Sande. A dedicated and ambitious officer he is not a Nazi but sees the way to advance during the war is to be of service to the Germans.

When word reaches him that a flight to Sweden will contain a package with secret information he acts swiftly to intercept the flight. What he finds sets off a complex interaction between the characters as the British seek the Nazi secret and Flemming diligently pursues members of the Resistance as he considers them criminals.

While the book is over 500 pages Follett keeps up the pace of the plot. I never dragged in the reading of the book and enjoyed the characters. They are better developed than in many thrillers.

It is a thriller that does not have the book littered with bodies. While there is not a heavy body count Follett, in his usual style, has characters die that most thriller writers would not kill off.

I appreciated the fictional look into life in Denmark during the Occupation. It is a very good thriller that does not strain the reader’s credibility.

As with every book I read about European Resistance I wonder what I would have done had I been lived in Occupied Europe during WW II.


  1. Bill, thank your for an absorbing review. I have not read a Ken Follett novel since "Eye of the Needle." He was one of many popular fiction writers of the 70s and 80s who wrote gripping novels. Unlike his earlier books, Follett has been writing blockbusters in recent years. Resistance has been a fairly common theme in WWII novels, especially those by Alistair MacLean and Len Deighton.

    1. Prashant: Thanks for the kind words. Follett's recent books make Flight of the Hornet look short. I enjoyed his books on the building of the cathedral in England.

  2. I have read a few Ken Follett books, but not recently. This sounds very interesting - last year I went to Copenhagen for the first time, and visited a museum devoted to the war years - the displays were very thought-provoking and affecting, I remember a lot about the subject, something I knew little about beforehand. So it would be good to read this book and find out more - and, as you say, to think about the choices people had to make.

    1. Moira: Thanks for the comment. I have been in Copenhagen twice but only for a day each time. On our last visit we took in the Danish Resistance Museum. It was thought provoking.

  3. Bill - I prefer thrillers where the characters are well developed. I haven't really thought of Ken Follett's work latlely, so it's good to reminded of it. I like it that he can sustain interest in a story over a longer time, too, and I think part of that is that he does create interesting characters.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Ultimately I think he is better at characters than plotting. At the same time he is not predictable in his story telling.

  4. It has also been a while since I have read anything by Ken Follett. This topic sounds very interesting. Long, but maybe worth it.

    1. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. It did not seem like a 500 page book. He is a skilled writer.