In 1939, with war just declared, a group of privileged people board the most luxurious airliner ever — the Pan American Clipper, bound for New York: an English aristocrat, a German scientist, a murderer under escort, a young wife escaping her husband and a charming, unscrupulous thief. For thirty hours, there is no escape from the flying palace. Over the Atlantic, tension mounts and finally explodes in a dramatic and dangerous climax.
I have always liked moving vehicle stories, like Murder on the Orient Express or Ship of Fools. I like seeing a group of people get on board and knowing they will work out all their passions, resentments and ambitions in that confined space during the next few days.
I got the idea for Night Over Water when I saw an exhibition about pre-war flying boats in the marine terminal at La Guardia airport. I was captivated by the idea of a plane with an upstairs and downstairs, a dining room, and beds. The idea of having dinner and then going to bed, sleeping all night, and waking up still on the plane, still going over the Atlantic, struck me as terribly romantic.
The Boeing B314 flying boat, known as the Pan Am Clipper, was a wonderful plane, but there are none left. They have all been scrapped, crashed or broken up for parts and I was never able to look at one. I did, nevertheless, get the blueprints and the manuals which detail every nut, bolt and rivet. Thus with Boeing's help, I was able to recreate the plane.
Night Over Water is one of my lighter books. It's as near to playful as I ever get.
Listen to Ken’s view on Night Over Water
Listen to an excerpt
- “Ken Follett – master of suspense – spins an excruciatingly taut drama on the aerial equivalent of the Orient Express… a whirlwind of romance and intrigue… thoroughly satisfying… His best since Eye of the Needle!” — Publishers Weekly
- “A spellbinding tale of tension, ambition and greed!” — Somerset American
Night Over Water by Ken Follett — William Morrow, New York 1991.
La Nuit de tous les Dangers in French by Robert Laffont
Nach Über den Wassern in German by Lübbe
Notte sull Acqua in Italian by Mondadori
Noche sobre las aguas in Spanish by Random House Mondadori
Nachtvlucht in Dutch by Uitgeverij Unieboek
Also published in many other languages, and available as an audiobook and as an ebook.
The Flying Boat Museum at Foynes, Ireland, has information and links about the golden age of flying boats, the Boeing B314 and more. See www.flyingboatmuseum.com