Publishing year: 1985
This novel by Ken Follett starts in Paris.
As I read the first chapter, I was inclined to think that I wouldn’t like it and would stop reading it. Yet, the action has perked up and become more interesting.
The action takes place in Paris as Turkish students, the leader of whom is Rahmi Caskum, plan to kill a Turkish dignitary. Pepe Gozzi is the man who provides the explosives. They have planned everything, but there is one snag. They intend to plant the bomb when the dignitary is visiting his lover, and the problem is that when he leaves the love nest, sometimes the woman is in the car, and these students don’t want to kill an innocent woman. So they ask an American expert in bombs, Ellis Thaler, to help them, and he comes up with a device which will be activated by remote control. Then a few days before the plan, Rahmi tells him and Pepe Gozzi that their leader wants to meet them.
The day of the meeting Ellis wakes up next to his girfriend, Jane Lambert. They have been together for one year, and Jane is frustrated because she feels taht Ellis is not committed in their relationship. He doesn’t seem to want to live with her. That day Jane gives her an ultimatum. One of her suitors, Jean Pierre, a doctor, has asked her to go to Afghanistan with him, where he will be for two years. Jane is considering the possibility to accept, and Ellis asks her not to do anything yet. Then he asks her to do something for him. He invents a birthday, and he asks her to call a number when she receives notification where he and Ahmi will be.
Until that moment I thought that I didn’t like Ellis very much, but then things change when he meets the leader with Ahmi and Pepe. It is a man working for the KGB, Boris, and after he skilfully manages to send word to Jane, the police arrive and arrest the three men. Then we learn that Ellis is actually a CIA spy. When he is met by a friend, he tells him about his intention to explain everything to Jane and ask her to marry him.
In the second chapter we learn more about Jean Pierre. He is a doctor, but he has agreed to work in Afghanistan for two years in order to spy for the Russians and the KGB. Jean Pierre wants Jane, and wishes she could dump Ellis. In the hospital a man comes to see him. His name is Raoul Clermont, and he urges him to go with him as Leblond, his contact, wants to see him. Leblond tells him that Ellis is a CIA spy, and because of him some important people have been arrested. What Leblond asks Jean Pierre to help him kill Ellis. He is asked to go to his flat, and if he is inside, he will come to the window, letting them know that he is in.
Jean Pierre goes there and is surprised to find Jane. Without thinking about it twice, he tells her what he knows about Ellis and his real identity. Jane gets angry; I am not sure if she doesn’t approve or she is angry he deceived her. When Ellis appears, Jane confronts him, and he has to admit to the truth. While they are talking, Jean Pierre goes to the window, and a minute later someone is knocking at the door. Jane opens the door to find a big man, and she knows that he has come for Ellis. There is a confrontation as the man pushes his way inside, and Ellis hits him with a bottle of wine, rendering him unconscious. Ellis then flees, using the back room, and Jane is left desolate. Jean Pierre goes to console her, and as she hugs Jean Pierre, she realizes that she might never see Ellis again.
What an intense start! I imagine that Jane will go with Jean Pierre to Afghanistan. The man is despicable. He has rat on Ellis when he is doing the same and worse. I imagine that Ellis will turn up sooner and later, and I hope Jane realises how blind she has been about Jean Pierre.