Jerry B's Reviews > Code to Zero

Code to Zero by Ken Follett
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's review
Apr 10, 2011

liked it

We typically enjoy Follett’s work, and got hooked early in “Code” on the premise that “Luke”, who awakes in a train station as a homeless man with significant amnesia, soon and cleverly determines not only his identity but the how and why of what happened to him. In so doing, the author traces the man’s back story, about two couples who went to Harvard/Radcliffe, and eventually both married, but to the opposite partners from when they dated. We found that thread of the story quite entertaining, especially when Luke begins to question why he picked one woman over the other!

The main plot in this period piece, set in the late ‘50’s soon after the Sputnik launch, was whether America’s first satellite launch would be successful or rather be sabotaged by Russian spies. What creates considerable suspense is Luke’s role in all this and how he must avoid various CIA operatives who should be on his side, but maybe not? The continuing saga of the Radcliffe girls only adds to the intrigue and our own amusement.

Follett’s typically superb writing style is clearly evident herein, but the book’s whole premise seemed a bit far-fetched. That a rocket launch could be susceptible to outside intervention gets tough to swallow – and the chapter headers detailing various aspects of rocket science were distracting at best (just skip them and you won’t miss a thing!). All in all, a reasonable spy story, but not necessarily a great addition to the Follett bookshelf.
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