It's 1941. Half of the British bombers attacking Germany are being shot out of the skies, tracked down by new technology called radar. With the Nazis invading Russia and a fierce British bombing campaign only days away, it comes down to the Danish Resistance -- and ultimately to an 18-year-old Dane named Harald Olufsen and a headstrong young Jewish ballet dancer -- to locate the source of this radar, record its operation, and alert England before it's too late. In opposition is of course Germany, but also a Danish police officer consumed with doing his duty and poisoned by the tragic maiming of his wife and the long-time grudge he holds against Harald's family.
Perhaps because it's remarkably easy to read, HORNET FLIGHT is so simplistic and predictable it feels in places more like a children's novel than an adult suspense thriller. There's seldom any doubt about what will happen next, and even the deaths along the way don't evoke much sorrow. Although the final getaway does keep the pages turning, the only question raised is how the obvious outcome will be achieved. The techniques used to create suspense read exactly like what they are -- plot props. I found it disconcerting to be always one step ahead of the author and I wanted to scream at the characters to get their heads out of the clouds and make use of their brains. By the time their lightbulbs flash on, the reader has been bearing the burden of knowledge for fifty pages.
Where HORNET FLIGHT wins its four stars, however, is in the incredibly real setting. Never does the narrative read like a textbook, never is information included simply for the sake of being information. The life of the Danish in their captured country is penned with such an apparently effortless accuracy that I kept forgetting Follett hadn't been there to observe it all.
Suspenseful? No. But well written, interesting, and informative -- HORNET FLIGHT is definitely all that.