How JAWS was an inspiration for Eagles Hunt Wolves

Anyone walking along the riverside of the Limmat might have picked her out; a pretty girl of about twenty, whose maroon-looking lipstick accentuated her wan complexion. Her arm, bent at the elbow and carried at an awkward angle, might have given pause for thought; her fist, balled up into a permanent clench, was concealed between the buttons of her expensively cut overcoat. An attentive eye might even have noticed the small spattering of blood in her wake; tiny droplets that pooled from the crooked elbow before dripping to the ground.

This is the opening chapter to my latest novel; EAGLES HUNT WOLVES: Book 5 in my WW2 espionage series. A young woman, Ann Chambrel is trying to escape an attack – it is somewhere in Zurich and her attacker is following her in a black Mercedes. She is injured and she is bleeding. She’s making a desperate dash to the safety of a train station but hampered by her wounds. The Mercedes is close by, inching through the rush-hour traffic.

In the summer of 1976 after endless pestering, my parents relented and took me to see JAWS. I was 10 years old. Nothing in my wildest dreams prepared me for this film. Nothing. The opening attack of Chrissie is still to this day, a traumatic thing to watch. Her screams and her desperate clinging to the buoy. Add in the fact, the shark kills a Labrador and a 12yr old boy, Alex Kitner, ratchets up the tension that instigates Brody, Hooper and Quint’s quest to hunt down the shark.

The movie seared into my imagination. I have watched it countless times and it still delivers each time.

The premise of EAGLES HUNT WOLVES follows the JAWS arc – a young woman is killed. Her death in post-war Berlin raises the spectre of a super-weapon, one of Hitler’s V-weapons, something the Allies have missed.

Something big

Something destructive.

From the young woman’s death, a group of intelligence agents begin a hunt for this weapon and collide head-on with a secret Nazi blood cult hell-bent on wreaking havoc.

Reading an interview with Stephen Spielberg, his direction notes was only when the shark appeared, would the colour red appear in the film. Outside of the attacks, there is no red in the movie. I used this around the ‘blood cult’ and the weapon – blood (and there’s a lot of it), only appears when the enemy is nearby, or the V-weapon – codenamed WHIPSAW is operational.

When it came to the weapon itself, like JAWS’ shark, its never fully described. When it finally appears, I wanted its capability to be frightening; so, I went and re-read the novel. For a book that was started in the early 1960’s, and went through numerous drafts before being published, it still holds well. If you ignore the side story of Hooper and Ellen (added by the editors to 'sex things up') it is an effective, tight adventure. The final chapters, reminiscent of Melville’s Moby Dick tighten like a tourniquet and I structured the final chapters the same way. In my notes, I drew a tighter and tighter circle with a rough sketch of a Shark’s maw.

The sheer impact of JAWS to this day reminds us that in the era of CGI, (which is over-used and leads to lazy filmmaking), an tense thriller can be made with an imaginative soundtrack and a twenty-five foot plastic shark name Bruce.

Which forty years later, inspired me to write a spy novel with a nod to JAWS.

EAGLES HUNT WOLVES is available as a Kindle and Paperback at Amazon and as an E-Book at KOBO.

Robert Craven 2020