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Typical CIA

Ken Follett, 18 December 1980

Who’s on first 
by William Buckley.
Allen Lane, 276 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 7139 1359 2
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... in the historical novel is not the re-telling of great historical events, but the poetic awakening of the people who figured in those events.’ When Georg Lukacs wrote that he was dealing with commercial fiction (specifically, Scott’s Waverley novels). Oakes is a running character in Buckley’s books, so there is room for him to develop into a ...

Spies and Secret Agents

Ken Follett, 19 June 1980

Conspiracy 
by Anthony Summers.
Gollancz, 639 pp., £9.95, May 1980, 0 575 02846 7
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The Man Who Kept the Secrets 
by Thomas Powers.
Weidenfeld, 393 pp., £10, April 1980, 0 297 77738 6
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... argument is remarkably simple. There is a tape-recording of the gunfire which killed President Kennedy. The third and fourth shots are too close together to have come from a single gun. Two guns means two gunmen, and two gunmen make a conspiracy. But who was in the conspiracy? Well, Lee Harvey Oswald was. It is now fairly clear that he did not shoot the ...

In Praise of Follett

John Sutherland, 16 October 1980

The Key to Rebecca 
by Ken Follett.
Hamish Hamilton, 311 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 241 10492 0
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Joshua Then and Now 
by Mordecai Richler.
Macmillan, 435 pp., £6.95, September 1980, 0 333 30025 4
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Loosely Engaged 
by Christopher Matthew.
Hutchinson, 150 pp., £4.95, September 1980, 0 09 142830 0
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Imago Bird 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Secker, 185 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 9780436288463
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A Quest of Love 
by Jacquetta Hawkes.
Chatto, 220 pp., £6.50, October 1980, 0 7011 2536 5
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... Of the novels under review here, Ken Follett’s will sell most. Over the last five years the author has assumed Forsyth’s fitfully-worn mantle and established himself as the world-wide super-seller. The Key to Rebecca will follow Eye of the Needle (1978) and Triple (1979) as a surefire triumph. He is now one of a select band of novelists – Forsyth, Maclean and Higgins are others – at the golden nucleus of the fiction industry ...

Exceptionally Wonderful Book

John Sutherland, 6 October 1994

Knowledge of Angels 
by Jill Paton Walsh.
Green Bay in association with Colt, 268 pp., £14.99, July 1994, 0 948845 05 8
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... to works of fiction that are outstandingly successful from a commercial point of view – Ken Follett and James Herbert, perhaps – or the most saccharine romance. Instead, it awards its prize to ‘the best novel in the opinion of the judges, published each year’. ‘Best’ is interpreted as ‘most distinguished literary performance’. The ...

Prodigals

John Sutherland, 19 August 1982

A Prodigal Child 
by David Storey.
Cape, 319 pp., £7.50, June 1982, 0 224 02027 7
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The Prodigal Daughter 
by Jeffrey Archer.
Hodder, 447 pp., £7.95, July 1982, 0 340 27687 8
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Ralph 
by John Stonehouse.
Cape, 318 pp., £6.95, May 1982, 0 224 02019 6
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The Man from St Petersburg 
by Ken Follett.
Hamish Hamilton, 292 pp., £7.95, May 1982, 0 241 10783 0
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The Patriot Game 
by George Higgins.
Secker, 237 pp., £7.50, July 1982, 0 436 19589 5
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... the Kane scion (a friendly rivalry persists, however, since he is a staunch Republican). Having taken over the family chain of hotels, tycoon Florentyna turns her hand to politics. She rises serenely through Congress and Senate. Her ascent comes to a momentary stop when her husband is killed, loyally motoring faster than he should, to catch up with her ...

Reality B

Christopher Tayler: Haruki Murakami’s ‘1Q84’, 15 December 2011

1Q84: Book 1 and Book 2 
by Haruki Murakami, translated by Jay Rubin.
Harvill Secker, 623 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 1 84655 407 0
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1Q84: Book 3 
by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel.
Harvill Secker, 364 pp., £14.99, October 2011, 978 1 84655 405 6
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... to ‘appeal to intellectuals in the broad sense with models for Japan’s present and future’ (Kenzaburo Oe). The novel was written in the US, where Murakami, hiding out from the fan attention occasioned by Norwegian Wood, reconsidered his earlier wish ‘to run as far as I could from the “Japanese Condition”’. After the Kobe earthquake and the Tokyo ...

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