Spring, 1963. The OAS, a secret organization of Algerian ex-military, wants Charles de Gaulle killed.
Having failed spectacularly in one attempt to kill de Gaulle, OAS leaders decide to hire a professional assassin, a blond man from England who calls himself Chacal, which is French for jackal.
Chacal wants to operate entirely on his own, with no contact with the OAS except for a telephone number in Paris he can call for information on the security situation.
The OAS set off a rash of thefts across France to raise Chacal’s $500,000 fee, then await developments.
French security officials guess the thefts are to finance another assassination attempt.
They pull in the best detective in France, Claude Lebel, a homicide cop who gets results by deliberate, plodding inquiry and fact checking.
Fredrick Forsyth was a newsman before turning novelist. His knowledge of how government agencies work and his crisp, clear, just-the-facts-m’am prose style makes Day of the Jackal a real page-turner.
Because de Gaulle died of natural causes, readers know who wins, but Forsyth keeps readers up past their bedtime to see the ending.
A bonus is the illumination of European history largely unfamiliar to contemporary readers: France’s conquest of Algeria in the 1830s, her colonial operation there through WWII, and the belief of many Algerians that de Gaulle had promised them French citizenship as a reward for their military service.
The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
Viking Press , 380 p.
1971 bestseller #4. My grade: A-
© 2018 Linda Gorton Aragoni