(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Accurate characterization is Follett's writing forte, and Henry Faber, "The Needle" is a fine example of Follett's craft. Faber, the central character of Eye of the Needle, is portrayed by Follett as a resourceful and loyal German spy, stationed in London during World War II to collect and transmit Allied defense information to his homeland. His code name "Die Nadel" originates from his customary weapon, a long, needle-thin stiletto, which is frequently used on those who dare threaten his mission.

Follett could easily have depicted Faber as a flat, malicious killer, but as Time reviewer, Michael Wood notes, "Follett has given him a personality that sets him apart from spies that typically populate thrillers." For unlike the usual spy, who is indifferently callous toward his victims, Faber has a nagging conscience, which causes him to vomit after every murder he commits. By adding this sympathetic side to Faber's character, Follett endears him to the reader, and Faber therefore dies a martyr instead of a rogue. As Wood so aptly concludes concerning Follett's characters, "they seem to linger in the memory long after the circumstances blur."

Follett presents Fred Bloggs, British Military Intelligence Agent, as a worthy opponent to the cunning Henry Faber. By cleverly recognizing the connection between Faber's code name and his distinctive murder method, Bloggs is able to follow The Needle's murderous trail across Britain. Even...

(The entire section is 375 words.)