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Monday, July 2, 2012

First Page Mondays: The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins


                                                               Author Jack Higgins

As part of the First Page Mondays here at The Book Worm, here is the first page from the novel 'The Eagle Has Landed' by Jack Higgins.'

'PROLOGUE

 At precisely one o' clock on the morning of Saturday, November 6, 1943, Heinrich Himmler Reichsfuhrer of the SS and Chief of State Police, received a simple message: "The Eagle has landed." It meant that a small force of German paratroopers were at that moment safely in England and poised to snatch the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, from the Norfolk country house where he was spending a quiet weekend near the sea. This book is an attempt to re-create the events surrounding that astonishing exploit. At least fifty percent of it is documented historical fact. The reader must decide for himself how much of the rest is a matter of speculation, or fiction.......

ONE

 Someone was digging a grave in one corner of the cemetery as I went in through the lychgate. I remember that quite clearly because it seemed to set the scene for nearly everything that followed.

 Five or six rooks lifted out of the beech trees at the west end of the church like bundles of black rags, calling angrily to each other as I threaded my way between the tombstones and approached the grave, turning up the collar of my trench-coat against the driving rain.

 Whoever was down there was talking to himself in a low voice. It was impossible to catch what he was saying. I moved to one side of the pile of fresh earth, dodging another spadeful, and peered in. 'Nasty morning for it.'

 He looked up, resting on his spade, an old, old man in a cloth cap and shabby, mud-stained suit, a grain sack draped across his shoulders. His cheeks were sunken and hollow, covered with a gray stubble, and his eyes full of moisture and quite vacant.

 I tried again. "The rain," I said.

 Some kind of understanding dawned. He glanced up at the sombre sky and scratched his skin. "Worse before it gets better, I'd say."

 "It must make it difficult for you," I said. There was at least six inches of water swilling about in the bottom.'  

- Debolina Raja Gupta