The Eagle Has Flown

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Liam Devlin is undoubtedly one of Jack Higgins’ most endearing characters. Not surprisingly, Higgins is quick to utilize Devlin’s considerable talents in this, his fiftieth published work. Also making a reappearance is Colonel Kurt Steiner, the “hero” of THE EAGLE HAS LANDED, who was shot dead while trying to kill an ersatz Winston S. Churchill—or so it seemed at the time. Now it is revealed that the good colonel survived his wound to end up in the Tower of London.

At which point, Brigadier Dougal Munro, yet another of Higgins’ perennial characters, puts his Machiavellian oar in the water. Munro decides to tempt the Germans into trying to rescue Steiner, in the hope that the operation will expose those German agents still abroad in Britain. Needless to say, he is elated when he learns that the Germans not only have taken the bait but also have assigned Devlin the task. Munro respects Devlin’s commitment and his talent, but he is still a thorn in the side of the Empire and thus must be removed.

Nevertheless, while Munro is a devious and cunning adversary, Devlin is more than his match—at least this time. Making their escape from wartime Britain, Devlin and Steiner manage to foil an assassination attempt against Adolf Hitler in the bargain—an ironic counterpoint to the denouement of THE EAGLE HAS LANDED.

Jack Higgins is prone to write to a formula, the outlines of which are readily apparent to any who peruse three or four of his books. Still, he puts together a good yarn and the formula quirks are less apparent in some of his works than others. THE EAGLE HAS FLOWN falls in the latter category and is well worth the time—most especially inasmuch as there seems little doubt that its principal characters will surface again.