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Monday, November 18, 2013


Exciting, action packed, and fast moving adventure but doesn’t match Forsyth’s benchmark thriller. (Review by Keith Millar)

The problem with Frederick Forsyth books is that he will always be measured against his first offering, which was the influential, blockbusting, political thriller The Day of the Jackal. With its fast-paced storytelling, extraordinary sense of realism and apparent insider information, it is the book that is widely regarded to have defined the modern thriller.

So, does The Kill List meet that standard? Unfortunately, the answer is no.

Having said that, it remains an entertaining story and a jolly good read. It has all the hallmarks of a Forsyth novel. Exhaustively researched, action-packed and with a remarkable sense of realism. The intelligence services and clandestine military units of the Western world must be seriously transparent for Forsyth to have the unique insight he appears to have into their modus operandi. It is often hard to believe that it is fiction - and not fact - that one is reading.

The Kill List is a top secret list which contains the names of terrorists who are regarded as so dangerous to the security of the US, and the rest of the world, that they have been condemned to death without any attempt of capture.

Currently on top of the list is a radical Islamic cleric known simply as the Preacher. His sermons of hate, broadcast on Internet, are inciting young Muslims in America and England to convert to ultra-radical Islam and to murder high- profile targets in both countries.

Tasked with tracking down and eliminating the Preacher is one of the top terrorist hunters in the US, code-named the Tracker. He is the quintessential American hero. An ex US Marine who has risen through the ranks and has seen service in Afghanistan.

To assist him, the Tracker recruits the obligatory nerdy but brilliant teenage computer hacker with social problems. Together, they tackle the task gathering the scant evidence that is available, collating it and attempting to unmask the Preacher before the spate of violent deaths escalates.

The Kill List is an exciting, action packed and fast-moving adventure. It has all the flair and attention to detail one expects from Frederick Forsyth. It takes you behind the scenes of global terrorism and the organizations and individuals who hunt them.

While he may not have achieved the standard of The Day of the Jackal with this novel, Forsyth remains a master storyteller and one of the world’s best thriller writers. As such this book should be well-received by his myriads of fans as well as admirers of action thrillers in general.

The Kill List is published by Transworld Publishers. ISBN 9780593071977. Recommended retail price R265. – Keith Millar