Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Jackdaws

Go To

A 2001 novel by Ken Follett, Jackdaws follows La Résistance in Nazi occupied France on the eve of D-Day. Felicity "Flick" Clairet has been tasked to blow up a key telephone exchange, but finds herself up against a Nazi intelligence officer named Dieter Franck who is determined to stop her.

Contains examples of:

  • Anti-Villain: Dieter is pretty thoroughly humanized and shown to not care overly about the Nazi ideal, to be genuinely in love with his mistress, and to absolutely despise torturing people. However, he's still willing to work diligently for the Nazi cause if that's what it takes to let him keep his high standard of living, and while he gets horrible migraines after every time he tortures someone he doesn't let that stop him from getting them to talk by whatever means necessary.
  • Anyone Can Die: In the end, only two of the Jackdaws make it back, the rest dying during the mission or being carted off to a death camp.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Forcing Flick to mate with animals is one of the torture methods Dieter plans to use on her.
  • Boxed Crook: Ruby, though the SOE is very careful to make it so the charges have not been dropped to keep her from running away.
  • Bury Your Gays: Three members of the eponymous Ragtag Bunch of Misfits are homosexual; they all die, two incredibly stupidly. Of the three heterosexual members (four, counting Paul), only one dies.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Stephanie is loyal to Dieter because he saved her from a death camp, and helps him root out the Resistance. Later she's Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves by Flick with a bullet to the head.
  • Crossdresser: "Greta" is actually a gay man who can pass well enough to fool most people.
  • Electric Torture: Dieter and Major Becker both make use of it. Flick eventually kills Becker with his own electroshock machine.
  • Eye Scream: Flick puts a knife in Dieter's eye, and while it doesn't kill him, the epilogue strongly implies that it gives him brain damage.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Greta distracts Franck by revealing that he's really a man just long enough for the charges to go off.
    • Also Michel honks the horn of the car to warn Flick that the Nazis are in the field, and in the process gets shot.
  • Historical Domain Character: Erwin Rommel and Bernard Montgomery both make appearances.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Major Becker ends up being electrocuted by his own torture device.
  • Impeded Communication: The plot centers around the use of a team of female saboteurs to destroy a German telephone exchange in occupied France shortly before D-Day. The reasoning behind targeting the exchange is that with the exchange destroyed, the German military would be either unable to coordinate troop movements to make a counterattack, or would be forced to use communications such as radio messages which could be more easily jammed or intercepted.
  • Janitor Impersonation Infiltration: The Plan is for the Jackdaws to infiltrate the building where the telephone exchange is located by posing as the cleaning crew. To that end, Flick even robs a member of the actual cleaning crew of her ID card so it can be copied, while said cleaning lady won't know anything she could spill during an interrogation.
  • Pet the Dog: Dieter's rescue of Stephanie, which arguably makes the other atrocities he commits all the more horrifying.
  • Potty Emergency: One of Dieter's more creative forms of interrogation is to give Mlle. Lemas lots of tea, put her with a bunch of polite young radio operators and then refuse her access to the bathroom until she talks.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Jackdaws are composed mostly of women who were rejected from various branches of the military, and in Ruby's case are prisoners.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Maude and Diana run off to The Ritz in Nazi-occupied Paris in the middle of the mission to go on a date. Needless to say Flick is not amused.
  • Torture Technician: Dieter Franck is a pro, and scoffs at the SS men's inefficient methods such as hitting the victim in the head, which he points out is extremely counter-effective since it'll most likely confuse or brain damage the person they're trying to interrogate.
  • Unconventional Wedding Dress: Flick and Paul both wear military uniforms when they get married due to it being a Wartime Wedding.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: Dieter has one of Flick produced after he acquires her photograph.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: After Flick sees that Franck has plastered her photo all over Paris she pays a prostitute for her black wig and darkens her eyebrows with a makeup pencil.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Discussed by the characters, and Flick has no illusions that what she's doing is anything less than terrorism against the Nazis.