Eye of The Needle by Ken Follett (♦♦♦♦)
It's 1944 and the Allies are putting the last touches on the invasion of France via Normandy. The Allies have orchestrated a massive deception with a faux army to fool Hitler and his generals when reconnoitering from the air. The deception seems to be working until a ruthless German assassin and spy code-named The Needle obtains photographic evidence of the Allies' plans and travels through England and Scotland to rendezvous with a U-boat in the midst of the North Sea.
Heavy on The Needle's scent are well known scholar Percival Godliman and Frederick Bloggs-- formerly with Scotland Yard-- now with military intelligence. Thanks to the spy's crimes, Godliman and Bloggs are able to chase him all the way to Scotland. Little do they know that it'll be up to the inhabitants of a small island in the middle of nowhere to stand their ground and defend England and the Allies' secrets if they're to win the war.
Eye of The Needle is pulse pounding suspense. In the first 145 pages or so, not much was happening and suddenly Hitler had a hunch that would have changed the course of history had he followed through (thank God he didn't!) during a meeting with his most senior military staff, and the book suddenly became incendiary, hot stuff really. I was agonizing during the last few chapters because even though I was able to anticipate what was going to happen I was dying to see it unfolding in my mind's eye; I thought that was quite special.
The characters were well outlined, but it's ultimately the story that shone through. The only thing that I didn't like and found quite annoying was the sudden availability of things when they were most needed; I thought that was way too convenient, particularly in war time in the middle of nowhere.
In summary, despite a few shortcomings Eye of The Needle is, rightly so, a classic spy novel of great caliber that has gracefully endured the test of time.