Sunday, 30 October 2011

Sharath's bookshelf - The Day of the Jackal.


     I was introduced to Frederick Forsyth by a friend. He lent me "The Fourth Protocol". I was enthralled. I then read "The Day of the Jackal". It was better. This book has spawned many imitations but they all pale in comparison. No other author writes with such colour and authority.

      Frederick Forsyth, prior to his fiction writing career, was a journalist with Reuters. His familiarity with the subject matter of his political thrillers probably stems from that. Whatever the reason, all his books clearly reflect meticulous research, in depth analysis and a natural flair for writing.

   The Day of the Jackal is imbued with all these qualities. Another common thread running through all his books is an element of truth. This book, for example, in its beginning discusses the actual assassination attempt made on Charles de Gaulle and then proceeds by detailing the fictional second attempt by the eponymous Jackal.

     The name of the professional assassin, code named Jackal, is never divulged in this novel. He is portrayed as being intelligent, ruthless and exceedingly efficient. By the end of this book, I developed  admiration and grudging respect for the cold calculating assassin. The Jackal has become such an unforgettable part of popular folklore that one of the most notorious terrorists of the world, Ilich Ramírez Sánchez a.k.a. Carlos (the same Carlos of the Bourne trilogy) was nicknamed the Jackal.

    This book details all the preparation made by the Jackal in eerie vividness. As the author describes the preparation, he simultaneously lets us know that the law enforcement agencies have also caught wind of this plan. This sets the stage for the cat and mouse chase that takes place across Europe. The Jackal is always a step ahead and uses ingenious methods and spur of the moment disguises to elude the police till the end of the novel.

     The pace never lets up. The chase is tense. It is suspenseful and thrilling and unputdownable. I have a confession to make. When reading Forsyth's books, I find the villains more interesting and end up wanting them to succeed, most of the time. What that says about me, I leave for the pshrinks to analyse.

      I recommend this as compulsory reading for all those who like political thrillers. Believe me, when it comes to his genre, Frederick Forsyth is in a league of his own. 


  1. Will read it when i can find the time

  2. Nice :) You should read the Icon if you haven't yet. That's my favourite simply because the hero is too good! Jason Monk- My favourite creation of Forsyth. For a change, you will like the hero :)