Excerpt from Hornet Flight by Ken Follett, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Hornet Flight

by Ken Follett

Hornet Flight by Ken Follett X
Hornet Flight by Ken Follett
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  • First Published:
    Dec 2002, 416 pages
    Nov 2003, 416 pages


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Harald walked to the entrance and stepped inside. Without looking around, Arne changed the music seamlessly to a hymn tune. Harald grinned. Arne had heard the door open and thought their father might be coming in. The pastor disapproved of jazz and certainly would not permit it to be played in his church. "It's only me," Harald said.

Arne turned around. He was wearing his brown army uniform. Ten years older than Harald, he was a flying instructor with the Army Aviation Troops, based at the flying school near Copenhagen. The Germans had halted all Danish military activity, and the aircraft were grounded most of the time, but the instructors were allowed to give lessons in gliders.

"Seeing you out of the corner of my eye, I thought you were the old man." Arne looked Harald up and down fondly. "You look more and more like him."

"Does that mean I'll go bald?"


"And you?"

"I don't think so. I take after Mother."

It was true. Arne had their mother's thick dark hair and hazel eyes. Harald was fair, like their father, and had also inherited the penetrating blue-eyed stare with which the pastor intimidated his flock. Both Harald and their father were formidably tall, making Arne seem short at an inch under six feet.

"I've got something to play you," Harald said. Arne got off the stool and Harald sat at the piano. "I learned this from a record someone brought to school. You know Mads Kirke?"

"Cousin of my colleague Poul."

"Right. He discovered this American pianist called Clarence Pine Top Smith." Harald hesitated. "What's the old man doing at this moment?"

"Writing tomorrow's sermon."

"Good." The piano could not be heard from the parsonage, fifty yards away, and it was unlikely that the pastor would interrupt his preparation to take an idle stroll across to the church, especially in this weather. Harald began to play "Pine Top's Boogie-Woogie," and the room filled with the sexy harmonies of the American South. He was an enthusiastic pianist, though his mother said he had a heavy hand. He could not sit still to play, so he stood up, kicking the stool back, knocking it over, and played standing, bending his long frame over the keyboard. He made more mistakes this way, but they did not seem to matter as long as he kept up the compulsive rhythm. He banged out the last chord and said in English, "That's what I'm talkin' about!" just as Pine Top did on the record.

Arne laughed. "Not bad!"

"You should hear the original."

"Come and stand in the porch. I want to smoke."

Harald stood up. "The old man won't like that."

"I'm twenty-eight," Arne said. "I'm too old to be told what to do by my father."

"I agree--but does he?"

"Are you afraid of him?"

"Of course. So is Mother, and just about every other person on this island--even you."

Arne grinned. "All right, maybe just a little bit."

They stood outside the church door, sheltered from the rain by a little porch. On the far side of a patch of sandy ground they could see the dark shape of the parsonage. Light shone through the diamond-shaped window set into the kitchen door. Arne took out his cigarettes.

"Have you heard from Hermia?" Harald asked him. Arne was engaged to an English girl whom he had not seen for more than a year, since the Germans had occupied Denmark.

Arne shook his head. "I tried to write to her. I found an address for the British Consulate in Gothenburg." Danes were allowed to send letters to Sweden, which was neutral. "I addressed it to her at that house, not mentioning the consulate on the envelope. I thought I'd been quite clever, but the censors aren't so easily fooled. My commanding officer brought the letter back to me and said that if I ever tried anything like that again I'd be court-martialed."

Reprinted from Hornet's Flight by Ken Follett by permission of Dutton, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 2002, Ken Follett. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

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