Friday, 26 October 2018

Wot I'm reading: the hunt for another Muslim fanatic

Frederick Forsyth: THE KILL LIST


Frederick Forsyth has been keeping us up past our bedtimes since his nerve-shredding debut in 1971, The Day of the Jackal (of which I have a cherished first edition). The Kill List proves that, decades later, he is still a master of his art. As topical as you could wish for, this has a Mission Impossible-style ex-marine, codenamed ‘the Tracker’, tasked with hunting down a secretive Muslim fanatic called ‘the Preacher’ whose disciples are carrying out random suicide killings in the US and the UK.

Forsyth outlines terrorist cells and those who pursue them across cyberspace and the deserts of the Middle East with all the accuracy and immediacy of a TV documentary. His style is succinct, with telling little sketches: in a refugee camp outside Mogadishu “they had no sanitation, food, employment or hope”. Background details like this aren’t allowed to slow down the pace as the Tracker and a talented teenage hacker relentlessly breach the Preacher’s online defences and identify who he is, his history and his whereabouts.

All the plotlines, including an Israeli spy in a Somali market town and a Swedish billionaire’s son kidnapped by pirates, converge on a hamlet in the middle of nowhere and a Bin Laden-style kill-and-rescue operation. If you’ve never jumped out of a plane at 25,000 feet with a 40-kilo rucksack of ammo and survival kit, get ready for it now! Forsyth takes you there as vividly as a virtual-reality theme park ride. Not many thrillers are as thrilling as this.

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