Re reading The Day of the Jackal, Frederick Forsyth s 1972 Edgar winner for Best Novel, was perhaps even satisfying than reading it for the first time can it really have been 36 years ago I would never quibble with the committee s choice on this one.As most people probably know, the book deals with a plot to assassinate Charles de Gaulle, President of France, by a group opposed to his policies on Algeria Not only does the reasonably well informed reader know that, historically, de Gaulle was not assassinated, but Forsyth actually makes a point of telling us this early in the book So, in a most important sense, we know from the outset how the book ends And yet, it is one of the best examples I ve read of page turning, heart stopping, breath holding suspense writing.Using the third person omniscient form, Forsyth takes us into the minds and actions of the plotters, the police, and the Jackal himself As the Jackal s preparations are being made, the French policeman, Lebel, is making his own preparations to foil the hired assassin The police including a number of quasi police agencies with few qualms about methods are well aware of the plot to assassinate de Gaulle several unsuccessful attempts have been made and they quickly surmise that the plotters have a hired killer But finding the Jackal is not so easy, and he always seems to be one step ahead of them until the last shattering moment.One thing that struck me in this reading of The Day of the Jackal was that, while one part of my brain was firmly on the side of Lebel and his need to stop the assassin, another part of me was admiring the Jackal s ingenuity and cool head, and almost wanted him to win And all this with no attempts made by the author to excuse or rationalize the Jackal s career choice in fact we are told very little about the Jackal s past beyond one brief reference to his having grown up poor Forsyth puts the reader in the very unusual position of watching two consummate professionals doing their jobs in opposition to each other even though we know which is the good or right side, our inwards groans at a setback for the Jackal are as heartfelt as those for Lebel, at least until the last few chapters.If you are too young to have read this book when it first came out, or even if you did read it then, do yourself a favor and read or re read it. Still Amazing the Second Time Around 5 Stars In the past 16 years, with the exception of the Bible, I have never read a book twice I enjoy the unknown and the mystery of the unravelling When doing a Book Pal read, I decided to pick up a book that is in my Top 10 and to break my rule about never reading a book twice What an excellent decision Even the second time around, I was amazed by the excellent story and the author s ability to created suspense even when you know the eventual outcome The author makes it clear from the outset that the book is about a failed assassination attempt While this would generally spoil the story for me, this story was about the preparation, the chase and the excitement of the near miss This is likely the reason it was still an amazing read the second time around Whether it is your first time, second or fifteenth, fans of Thrillers, spy novels and political thrillers should pick up this classic volume Plot I will not belabour the storyline The story is that of an assassination plot on French President General Charles De Gaulle The uses up a significant number of pages to outline the history leading to the attempt and the tension and power struggle between the President and the OAS who were determined to oust De Gaulle and keep Algeria French Admittedly, the opening is slow as it reads as a history While the first chapter or two is dry, it provide the read with an excellent synopsis of the Algerian war, De Gaulle s rise, fall and second ascent to the presidency After 6 failed attempts at assassination, the OAS hatches its best plan to date Enter the Jackal The top OAS leaders hire a foreign assassin to plan his own attack and assassination of the president The story follows two major storylines Firstly, the OAS leaders which eventually combines with that of the Jackal and his precise planning and attempt Secondly, the story follows the French Detective who is tasked with the unenviable job of finding a killer with no evidence and clues The result is an excited a detailed investigation planning and one of the best international chases you will ever read My Take This is widely accepted as one of the best spy assassin thrillers of all time Without a doubt, the author amazing eye for detail is a major reason for this The reader does not miss a single step in the Jackal s planning When he visits a forger to obtain fake papers, we get to see him return We don t miss any steps Additionally, we follow an equally detailed investigation into the identity and plan of the killer It is truly an immersive experience.While the actual details of the Jackal s true identity and his planning are not well known, the author does an amazing job of taking the facts and filling in the blanks with some educated guesses The result is a completely believable and engaging story The Jackal is one of my favourite characters in literature There is little back story for the character but this results in an incredibly mysterious and dangerous character Even when you think you know him, you quickly realize you don t.Beyond the Jackal himself, the story of the investigation is equally amazing The character of the French Detective is a small, unassuming and henpecked man but his looks belie his sharp intellect and tenacity He is made to report daily to approximately 10 of the top men in the French government and to steer the largest manhunt in French history The kicker is that there are quite literally no clues to go on With a small bit of good fortune and some excellent instincts, he is able to track down an illusion This is truly one of the most brilliant investigations I have read Coupling this with the Jackal s story vaults this book into my top 10.Any fan of Thrillers need to read this excellent novel While this was written decades ago, the writing, content and story does not feel dated This story remains exciting and entertaining, even in time of instant gratification Even though you know the end at the beginning, it is the journey that is exciting A highly recommended book Librarian Note An Alternate Cover For This Edition Can Be Found HereThe Jackal A Tall, Blond Englishman With Opaque, Gray Eyes A Killer At The Top Of His Profession A Man Unknown To Any Secret Service In The World An Assassin With A Contract To Kill The World S Most Heavily Guarded ManOne Man With A Rifle Who Can Change The Course Of History One Man Whose Mission Is So Secretive Not Even His Employers Know His Name And As The Minutes Count Down To The Final Act Of Execution, It Seems That There Is No Power On Earth That Can Stop The Jackal Forsyth escribe bien Est muy documentado Dirige bien la trama y es muy, muy entretenido Pero, pero, pero no me transmite ninguna emoci n Seguramente, es un problema m o A n as , muy buena lectura He aprendido mucho sobre De Gaulle y sobre c mo se mueve un asesino. 21 507 1962 1958 22 The day of the jackal was over, and I was glad of that Just because this old thriller was related to a favored genre of mine the historical fiction didn t mean I would like outdated thrillers with no idea that hasn t been milked by movies of various characteristics But I learned one thing after reading this book, and that was that archaic books like this died intestate There were defining aspects in this hefty not too much though novel There were new characters that kept making entry until the last pages Also there was the fact that we know that The Jackal wasn t going to succeed At the other end of the spectrum, there was another type of sitting duck of the species known as Dead Meat Those who you knew were going to die did die But as the novel progressed, it was difficult to care for the victims The only brilliant idea in the story was that the info that set the ball rolling was an error of identification That threw this reader completely In the end, though, it wasn t enough to justify reading the book in the first place. One of the things that I like about Goodreads is that it s than just a bunch of book reviews It s a location where book lovers can exchange stories, discuss books, buy and sell books and simply go on and on about their favorite and not so favorite books So please indulge me as I provide a longish backstory before actually getting into my review because that is part of the fun To begin with please look at my bookshelves You ll notice that one of them is labeled seventies classics I was a child in the seventies born in 1968 and both of my parents were are for they are both still alive readers Mom liked classic dense novels, works about human behavior Carl Jung et al and the occasional serious work about the supernatural Edgar Cayce,Dorothy Jane Roberts and so on She encouraged my love of history and started my modest collection of historical works many of which I still own Thanks mom Now dad provided the men s action novel section of my parent s library My parents compliment each other Mom is the intellectual with a couple different university diplomas Dad is the Vietnam veteran and career police officer He is an intelligent man, but a down to earth man who enjoys reading espionage action novels and Louis L Amour westerns As a boy I was drawn to dad s reading selections and one of my clearest memories are the hardback copies of Frederick Forsyth s first three novels on the shelvesThe Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File, The Dogs of War Dad was a huge fan and even got mom to read the first two My mother, the intellectual, found them to be better than average genre novels mom sometimes slips I read The Odessa File when I was ten years old At the time it took some effort, but I finished it and enjoyed it tremendously The Dogs of War followed a few years later However I then followed with The Fourth Protocol and The Devil s Alternative ,a couple years afterwards, and I was disappointed Forsyth s later novels are competent, but they lack the Cinema Veriteno I don t care if I m using that term loosely of his first three novels which was the very thing that I liked As a result I moved on to Tom Clancy s muscular works and the twentieth century rolled into the twenty first A couple weeks ago my wife brought home a Franklin Library leather bound edition of The Day of the Jackal which she found at the local Deseret Industries store if you live where there are large numbers of Mormons you are familiar with DI Terrific secondhand store chain offering a great selection of used books among other things It s such a pretty edition with leather cover, high quality paper, sewn in bookmarker, silk moir end pages and gilt edging The best part is that my wife picked it up for only two dollars United States On Ebay the leather bound editions sell for at least thirty dollars a piece so way to go honey As I admired the high quality book I realized that I had never read Forsyth s debut novel I had seen Fred Zinnemann s 1973 movie of course , but never read the novel An oversight that I knew I would have to correct I dare anyone who is a book lover to toss a high end printing to the side without reading it for the sheer sensual pleasure if nothing else It s the equivalent of a classic car lover leaving a 1963 Jaguar XK E Roadster in the garage and not driving it around the neighborhood on summer weekendssimply inconceivable So now that I have gone on and on without providing an actual review you re probably wondering what did I think about Mr Forsyth s classic Well I think it s a cracking good suspense novel It is a forty five year old novel so the technology and some of the techniques are dated However that s all right because the novel is set in 1963 which moves it into the realm of historical fiction secret history The plot itself is not a complicated one A professional assassin is hired by the OAS OAS or Organisation arm e secr te, lit Organisation of the Secret Army or Secret Armed Organisation to kill French President General Charles de Gaulle The French learn of the plot and the race is on to stop the killer before he stops President de Gaulle In 1963 the French government,and all of it s military and police branches, did not have computers, cell phones, satellite surveillance, DNA, thermal scanners, unmanned aerial drones or any of the other tools that are now used in the never ending struggle against terrorists The French authorities are also hampered by the President refusing to go into hiding as well as refusing to allow the news to be made public which was so typical of that obstinate man What they do have in their favor is manpower, organization and the French bureaucracy yes you heard that right red tape and endless paperwork makes a valuable contribution on their side The Jackal ,however, is a very smart man who is careful ,meticulous, motivated and lucky The result is a race to the finish and I found it to be a very effective race even though we all know that de Gaulle died seven years later in 1970 This means that one starts the novel knowing that the plot is a failure, but it still pulls one into the story That s an impressive piece of writing if you ask me Day of the Jackal is an archetype of the modern techno thriller Meticulously researched in which the characters function in our reality with all the drawbacks Mistakes are made, people stumble and sometimes things move with an agonizing slowness A former journalist Forsyth brought his skills to a novel, but he treated it like it was a research piece for a monthly news journal or a series in theLondon TimesThe result is that documentary Cinema Verite that I mentioned earlier Other writers Tom Clancy, Brad Thor, Jack Higgins etc have since pumped up the genre that Forsyth is one of the founders of and in many respects the genre has moved into James Bond territory only with lots of technical details Younger readers will probably find Day of the Jackal to be dull with not enough action The story is the action as it moves inexorably closer to the assassination attempt, but for the younger readers there is a definite lack of car chases, gunfights, thrilling escapes and an explosive climax If one is curious as to how the story could be amped up see the 1997 movie version The Jackal with Bruce Willis and Sidney Poitier Actually I like that version as well, but in terms of what it is and not what it isn t I try not to get excited about movies straying from the source material.There are weaknesses, but that is true of everything in this world Forsyth is an excellent researcher and excels at establishing a very realistic and detailed setting in which his characters move through However he isn t as strong when it comes the characters themselves Forsyth will describe his characters with a few sentences and then moves on Essentially his characters are cardboard cutouts with out the psychological depth that readers have come to expect in 2016 Actually ,in fairness to the older generation, many novelists were doing that back in 1971 as well, but remember that Forsyth was a journalist Journalists don t spend much time writing about the psychology of a politician usually A few sentences about a president s background and then it s onto the meat of the story Personally I didn t find the story hurt by the rather sparse character development It s a suspense novel about a manhunt and not an in depth character study Well here I am with my concluding paragraph What to write that hasn t already been written I m going to opt with the simple approach It s a good novel Give it a try. This book is one of the best books in its genre Haven t found a book which can be at par with The Day of the Jackal. The Day of the Jackal, Frederick Forsyth The Day of the Jackal 1971 is a thriller novel by English writer Frederick Forsyth about a professional assassin who is contracted by the OAS, a French dissident paramilitary organisation, to kill Charles de Gaulle, the President of France 1986 1363 507 1363 20 1379 559 9646552129 1962. To those that gave this 4 or 5 stars I completely get it I really do I found much impressiveness in this classic spy story, despite the 3 star ceiling I ended up placing on it Technically proficient and drenched in details, this is as authentic an anatomy of an assassination attempt I have ever seen Forsyth s Jackal like control over the narrative was singular and I can certainly understand this being considered a classic among the spy thriller genre.Despite the significant amount of superior that Forsyth brought to this story, my 3 star rating reflects my lack of engagement in the story resulting largely from what I found to be a lack of well drawn characters and a dearth of emotion in the narrative These two missing components prevented me from getting warm and toasty with the story even with the undeniable quality of the plot PLOT SUMMARYA novel in 4 parts First, the reader is introduced to the OAS Organisation de l arm e secr te or Organization of the Secret Army , a rabies loaded, right wing French nationalist group formed during the Algerian War and dedicated to keeping Algeria part of France if I can pause for a brief side note, the OAS completely reminded me of the scene in Monty Python s, The Meaning of Life when John Cleese saidI would remind you that the cormorant was presented to us by the Corporation of the town of Sudbury to commemorate Empire Day, when we try to remember the names of all those from the Sudbury area who so gallantly gave their lives to keep China British. Sorry, couldn t resist sprinkling a little MP into the mix Anyway, feeling spiteful, betrayed and than a little miffed by de Charlie s gall and his support for Algerian independence, the OAS unsuccessfully tries to pop caps in de Gaulle s derriere several times, most notably in a French suburb in 1962.The above is all historical fact and provides a terrific lead in for Forsyth to seamlessly transition into the fictional story.Part 2 of the story is easily my favorite part of the book The OAS is in shambles after being infiltrated and decimated by the French Action service the counter terrorist portion of the French intelligence apparatus As a result, the head of the OAS decides that the only way to turn things around is to succeed in assassinating de Gaulle and the only way to do that is to bring in a ninja professional assassin Enter Bruce Willis the Englishman a nameless, mysterious, high priced assassin considered the best in the world Engaged by the OAS and given complete operational control over the assignment, the rest of this section of the book details.and I mean D.E.T.A.I.L.S the Englishbloke s preparation for the assassination I was fascinated by this section and thought it felt incredibly authentic Step by step the reader follows the Englishgent as he arranges the creation of false identities, the design and production of the perfect weapon, extensively studies de Gaulle, selects the appropriate time and place for the kill, and identifies his escape route I ve never seen this kind of detail presented better without intrusion by the pace assassins known of PLOD and BOG Forsyth eludes both of these story killers and maintains excellent narrative flow I LOVED IT Part 3 focuses on the French government s counter terrorist group as they learn of the potential plot and investigate various leads looking for a break As with the rest of the book, the intricacy of the details is very impressive However, this is where I started to disengage a bit from the plot due to a lack of emotional investment in the story Part of this stems from the intentional coldness of the Englishman His whole persona is one of ice which would have been great if contrasted by emotionally colorful characters in the novel Unfortunately, I didn t find that and so it made immersing myself into the story impossible Lack of immersion led to lack of connection led to lack of interest as the narrative began to seem far too dry The fourth part of the book is the climax where we have the Jackal closing in on his target and the Frenchies closing in on the Jackal Again, technically this was done to perfection and I have no truck with anyone who slapped 5 stars on this story However, for me, my lack of investment in the narrative continued to plague me and so the amount of tension of which there should have been plenty was running on empty I still enjoyed it, but I kept telling myself that I SHOULD be enjoying it Overall, Forsyth wrote a very impressive book and I would not quibble with it being listed among the classics of the genre I just found the story a bit dry and the characters a bit too wooden to engage enough to say I really liked it Thus a solid 3 stars and my respect for Forsyth s accomplishment.
Frederick Forsyth, CBE is an English author and occasional political commentator He is best known for thrillers such as The Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File, The Fourth Protocol, The Dogs of War, The Devil s Alternative, The Fist of God, Icon, The Veteran, Avenger, The Afghan, and recently The Cobra and The Kill List.The son of a furrier, he was born in Ashford, Kent, educated at Tonbridge Scho
- 384 pages
- The Day of the Jackal
- Frederick Forsyth
- 16 January 2017 Frederick Forsyth