Night Over Water

Night Over Water

Night Over Water

1991 | Thriller | 672 pages

Set during the outbreak of the Second World War, Night Over Water is about a perilous journey across the Atlantic to escape Britain, from the number one bestseller and master of the historical thriller, Ken Follett.

The Eve of War
Britain has just declared war against Nazi Germany. In Southampton, the world’s most luxurious airliner, the Pan American Clipper, takes off on its final flight to neutral New York – a haven for those fleeing the conflict.
A Disparate Group Flees
The passengers aboard the plane each have their own reasons for leaving Britain. Amongst them are an English aristocrat fleeing with his family and a fortune in jewels; a German scientist running away from the Nazis; a murderer returning under FBI escort; a wife escaping her controlling husband; and a devious thief determined to keep his spoils.
A Journey into Danger
Trapped on the plane, with only their fellow passengers for company, their journey over the Atlantic becomes increasingly fraught. Especially when it becomes apparent a plot is unfolding that may endanger all of their lives . . .
First chapter

It was the most romantic plane ever made. Standing on the dock at Southampton, at halfpast twelve on the day war was declared, Tom Luther peered into the sky, waiting for the plane with a heart full of eagerness and dread. Under his breath he hummed a few bars of Beethoven over and over again: the first movement of the ‘Emperor’ concerto, a stirring tune, appropriately warlike. Continue reading

Ken's view

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.


“Guaranteed to hold the reader in their seat . . . the master of epic suspense spins an excruciatingly taut drama, a whirlwind of romance and intrigue.” – Publisher’s Weekly


“Follett is a master.” – The Washington Post Book World


“Few authors deliver as consistently as Follett.” – Pittsburgh Press


“Follett really knows how to tell a story.” – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution