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Veteran thriller writer Ken Follett (Eye of the Needle,The Third Twin,The Key to Rebecca) turns in another nifty story of espionage, deceit, and betrayal, a fast-paced read with "bestseller" written all over it. A man wakes up in a Washington, D.C., train station in 1958, shortly before the launch ofExplorer I, America's first space satellite, with no idea who he is or how he got there. And in less than a few hours, it's clear that someone doesn't want him to find out. He's dressed like a bum, and he looks like he's been on a bender. But he's remarkably skillful at evading pursuit, obscuring his tracks, stealing a car, and breaking into a house. He's not sure how he came by those talents, and it worries him:
"I wonder if I'm honest?" Maybe it was foolish, he thought, to pour out his heart to a whore on the street, but he had no one else. "Am I a loyal husband and a loving father and a reliable workmate? Or am I some kind of gangster? I hate not knowing."

"Honey, if that's what's bothering you, I know what kind of guy you are already. A gangster would be thinking, am I rich, do I slay the broads, are people scared of me?"

That was a point. Luke nodded. But he was not satisfied. "It's one thing to want to be a good person--but maybe I don't live up to what I believe in."

But he does, and it's that firm interior moral compass that keeps him on track through the novel's most fascinating pages as he solves the puzzle of who he really is: Claude "Luke" Lucas, a renowned rocket scientist who was en route from Cape Canaveral to Washington to warn someone in the Pentagon about something he also can't remember, even with the help of some of his oldest friends. Like Anthony Carroll, a CIA agent who apparently has proof that Luke's been sabotaging the fledgling American space program and working for the Russians. And Billie Josephson, the woman Luke once loved, who happens to be an expert in brainwashing and memory loss. And Elspeth, Luke's mathematician wife, who'll do almost anything to save his life.

This is one of Follett's strongest books in years. The flashbacks bring the story of the idealistic young collegians from World War II into 1958, nicely setting up the action in an exciting, solidly plotted, and suspenseful read that grabs the reader by the throat in the first paragraph and doesn't let up until the last. --Jane Adams

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ISBN-10:  0525945636
ISBN-13:  978-0525945635
Author:  Ken Follett
Genre:  Mystery & Thrillers
Publisher:  Dutton Adult
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review by . January 29, 2001
I really enjoy Ken Follett's books and began this with enthusiasm. I settled quickly into the tempo of the book, but was thoroughly disappointed with the details which pad out the story - the environment, the history of the times, the fine details of the characters. This book is set in the scientific world of space exploration in the late 1950s, but it could be set anywhere, at any time. The only real references to the background subject matter are the headers in italics at the beginnings of the …
review by . December 04, 2000
This book was so action-filled and suspenseful that I finished it over the week-end, pausing only to watch the Florida election court cases. The author grabs the reader from the beginning ,when the protagonist wakes up without his memory in the men's room of Union Station in Washington, D.C., and doesn't let go until the satisfying ending, several hundred pages later. I began reading, was immediately hooked, and went along for the ride! There was always something going on in the book, and never …
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