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Jack Higgins The Eagle has Flown

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The Eagle Has Flown is a book by Jack Higgins, first published in 1991. It is a quasi-sequel to The Eagle Has Landed, with a similar plot structure, but an arguably weaker storyline.

Plot summary

Following the events in the previous novel, it is revealed that Kurt Steiner did not die after attempting to kill Churchill, but was only wounded. German intelligence learns that, after recovery in an RAF hospital, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.

Brigadier Dougal Munro and Captain Jack Carter (recurring characters in several novels by Higgins) of Special Operations Executive, arrange for Steiner to be relocated to a special prison in a priory in Wapping, and make sure, via double agents at the Spanish Embassies in London and Berlin, that German intelligence find out about it. They hope to catch German agents, including Liam Devlin, in their net.

Learning of Steiner's survival, Heinrich Himmler summons SD General Walter Schellenberg, an ex-police officer, and orders him to launch an operation to rescue Steiner. Himmler hopes to present him to Hitler as a propaganda coup and also to embarrass Wilhelm Canaris, who had originally opposed Steiner's operation. Schellenberg tracks down Liam Devlin, who is working in a bar in Lisbon and again bribes him to assist in the operation.

Whilst Devlin parachutes into Ireland and enters England in the guise of an army padre, Schellenberg recruits Asa Vaughan, a pilot in the American Free Corps, to pilot Steiner's escape flight. This is planned to be from Shaw Place, a country house in Kent, owned by Sir Max Shaw and his sister Lavinia, long-standing Nazi sympathizers and 'sleeper agents'.

In London, Devlin seeks sanctuary with two IRA sympathizers, living near the priory and also buys army radio communications equipment from the Carver brothers, vicious London gangsters and black marketeers.

The rescue of Steiner from the priory, meticulously planned, is successful, although they are forced to take Munroe as a hostage. They drive to Shaw Place, but as Vaughan is making his landing in thick fog, a shootout ensues in which both Carvers and Shaws are killed. Leaving Munroe behind, Vaughan and Steiner fly to France and make a dangerous landing on the coast, also badly fog-bound.

About to present Steiner to Himmler and Hitler at a chateau on the French coast, Schellenberg learns that Himmler is plotting stage a coup and to assassinate Hitler, Rommel and Canaris. Deciding that the war will end quicker with Hitler in charge than a possible successor, he and Steiner commandeer a nearby force of paratroopers troops and foil the plot.

Himmler makes it clear that the incident must not become public knowledge - in effect, it 'never happened'. Schellenberg opts to remain in Germany, and allows Vaughan and Devlin to 'escape'. They fly to Ireland, landing in County Mayo and sinking their aeroplane. Their subsequent fate is not revealed.

As in several of the novels by Higgins, the plot is surrounded with a prologue and epilogue. In 1975, the author, Higgins, meets an American historian in London, who gives him a photocopy of an illegally obtained secret dossier, with a one hundred-year hold, from the Public Record Office. The document purports to tell the story of Steiner's rescue. Shortly afterwards, the historian is killed in a road accident, which is investigated by a senior police officer - possibly from Special Branch. Higgins contacts Devlin, still living in Belfast, and obtains some, but not all, of the story to corroborate the contents of the dossier.

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