The year is 1958 and the US are trying to catch up with the Russian space program. Already the Russians have launched two craft into space, while the Americans have failed miserably. This is the American’s last chance otherwise they will have lost the space race. A man wakes up in a toilet in Union Station, dressed as a homeless person, and unable to remember anything. He is the only person who can save the future of the US in space.
With flashbacks filling in the story, Code to Zero is an espionage tale set during the cold war, and featuring spies, rocket scientists and betrayal. The five main characters are linked from university onwards, each forging their own place in the world, and each becoming entwined in each others destiny. The friendships survived the second world war, and gave each of them a different way to look at the world.
Ken Follett likes to setup the story, fleshing out the main characters until they are memorable and then proceeds to put them in situations that could quite easily have happened. There are no fantastical adventures here, no super human heroes who recover from bullet and knife wounds in an instant. The main character re-discovery of who and what he is runs along side the high tension spy chase. The relationships between the main two characters is very believable and enjoyable to read and think about. In a way, it brings hope to a situation that looks far from hopeful.
I have read Code to Zero several times and each time, I smile at the ending. While I personally find that many of Ken Follett‘s books are as good as this one, I keep finding myself drawn to this tale of spies and rockets. It’s a good introduction to Follett and if you are looking for other books by him, I would suggest the following:
Night over Water
Or visit his website at http://www.ken-follett.com/