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Schakalen (1971)

av Frederick Forsyth

Andra författare: Se under Andra författare.

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
4,581771,841 (4.04)159
France, infuriated by Charles de Gaulle's withdrawal from Algeria, had failed in six known attempts to assassinate the General. This book postulates that the seventh, mostly deadly attempt involved a professional killer-for-hire who would be unknown to the French Police. His code name: Jackal. His price: half a million dollars. His demand: total secrecy, even from his employers. Step by painstaking step, we follow the Jackal in his meticulous planning, from the fashioning of a specially made rifle to the devising of his approach to the time and the place where the General is to meet the Jackal's bullet. The only obstacle in his path is a small, diffident, rumpled policeman, who happens to be considered by his boss the best detective in France: Deputy Commissaire Claude Lebel.… (mer)
  1. 20
    Täcknamn Odessa av Frederick Forsyth (longway)
  2. 10
    Krigshundarna av Frederick Forsyth (John_Vaughan)
  3. 00
    Phoenix av Amos Aricha (JohnWCuluris)
    JohnWCuluris: Similar plot--perhaps originally inspired by Jackal--with more detail and texture.
  4. 00
    Bedragaren av Frederick Forsyth (worldenough)
  5. 00
    Wolves in the City: The Death of French Algeria av Paul Henissart (John_Vaughan)
  6. 00
    Attentat mot diktator av Geoffrey Household (ivan.frade)
    ivan.frade: About a man plenty of resources to dodge a powerful organization that tries to track him down.
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This is a brilliantly written thriller based on a fictional assassination attempt against French President Charles de Gaulle in 1963. While we know from history that he won't succeed, the novel focuses on the Jackal's thought processes, how he devises his plans, develops a weapon and constructs several false identities. It follows the manhunt and how the efforts of the various French agencies to track him down are frustrated by a combination of the killer's resourcefulness, bad luck and a mole in the authorities' midst. Even when he is cornered in Paris he almost succeeds in carrying his audacious plan. This is deservedly a classic of the genre, focusing on detail in almost an instructional sense, but still managing to be a gripping narrative which never flags. ( )
2 rösta john257hopper | Jun 25, 2021 |
Frederick Forsyth

The Day of the Jackal

Corgi, Paperback, 1978.

12mo. 382 pp.

First published by Hutchinson, 1971.
Corgi edition, 1971.
16th reprint, 1978.

Contents

Part One: Anatomy of a plot
Part Two: Anatomy of a manhunt
Part Three: Anatomy of a kill

===================================================

The two movies (1973, 1997) brought me here, but I stayed for the gripping adventure. It is often erroneously labelled “political thriller”. Thriller it is, certainly, but there is nothing political in it. This is all for the best. Politics is the favourite pastime of the mentally retarded. As you can tell from the neat table of contents, Mr Forsyth concentrates very much on the assassination: how it is planned, how it is executed, and how it is prevented.

The writing is vivid and graphic, slightly wordy and occasionally over-descriptive, but quite effective, often atmospheric and sometimes even poetic. A few respective examples will illustrate this better:

‘Will you assassinate De Gaulle?’ asked Rodin at last. The voice was quiet but the question filled the room. The Englishman’s glance came back to him and the eyes were blank again.
‘Yes, but it will cost a lot of money.’

[...]
‘Half a million dollars?’ shouted Monclair, rising from his seat. ‘You are crazy?’
‘No,’ said the Englishman calmly, ‘but I am the best, and therefore the most expensive.’


Apart from the breathing, the silence of the cellar was almost tangible. All the men were in shirt sleeves, rolled up high and damp with sweat. The odour was crushing, a stench of sweat, metal, stale smoke and human vomit. Even the latter, pungent enough, was overpowered by one even stronger, the unmistakable reek of fear and pain.

[...]

August in Marseilles has several qualities, but the inspiration to great exertions is not one of them. The heat lay on the city like an illness, crawling into every fibre, sapping strength, energy, the will to do anything but lie in a cool room with the jalousies closed and the fan full on.

Even the Cannebière, usually the bustling bursting jugular vein of Marseilles, after dark a river of light and animation, was dead. The few people and cars on it seemed to be moving through waist-deep treacle. It took half an hour to find a taxi; most of the drivers had found a shady spot in a park to have their siesta.


The book’s major fault, besides a somewhat disjointed beginning and a mild overdose of detail later, is that we never learn anything about the Jackal. He has neither background nor personality. He talks too much, but that only serves to dilute his character, such as it is. The way he threatens the gunsmith and the forger is almost comic. The Jackal is the type of man who means rather more than he says. Mr Forsyth, like so many thriller scribblers, cannot resist making his anti-hero too loquacious. He should have known better, and he should have done better to spend more time on the mental dimension of his character than on his actions. The little we do have is tantalising.

The Jackal is cold, rational, resourceful and meticulous. He can kill after lengthy preparation, but also quite impromptu: in the first case more expensively than effectively, so far as we can tell. He does have a sensuous streak in him, for instance when he enjoys English marmalade, an expensive lunch in a London restaurant, or a day on the coast of the North Sea. Apparently brought up in poor conditions, money is important for the luxurious life they afford, but this is not his driving force. He remains a shadow, at best. It would have been fascinating to at least try to enter the head of a guy like the Jackal, but Mr Forsyth either couldn’t or wouldn’t let us in. Other characters are less prominent but more fleshed-out. Even Viktor Kowalski, a dumb thug if there ever was one, is deftly and not unconvincingly humanised with a family angle. So is the Baroness in a very different and rather poignant way.

But, of course, one doesn’t read a book like that for the characters. It’s all about the page-turning excitement and the palpable sense of violence about to erupt like a volcano. It’s an experience that no other type of fiction can provide. Mr Forsyth delivers it in spades. If this novel is anything to go by, he is no mere thriller scribbler. He is, like the Jackal, the best in business. Scene after scene are searing. The murders of the forger and the Baroness, the torture of Kowalski, the Jackal’s target practice with his custom-made rifle and a melon, Lebel’s silencing a whole room of men superior to him in rank but inferior in brains and guts, and of course the dénouement (pardon my French!) on Liberation Day: all these (and then some!) will stay with me for some time. The whole story is carefully crafted with Jackal-like attention to detail. The pace is brisk and steady.

Even Claude Lebel, the modest and unassuming (but really smart and tough) French detective, the most charming and rounded character, is most of all a part of the plot. He is given the hardest manhunt in fiction, “une énorme merde” in his own, colourful but accurate, words. He has a code name and a bad description (tall, blond, sunglasses) of the contract assassin hired to kill the most important man in France. How do you go from there? Well, this is what “Anatomy of a manhunt” is all about. It’s a masterful piece of suspenseful storytelling, mixing a cocktail of at least three storylines (the Jackal’s plus the French and the British side of the investigation) and many more briefly glimpsed but important points of view. Manhunt was a real job in the old days when everything was done on paper and by telex; the quickest and most efficient long-distance communication device was the ordinary phone, and international calls could take up to twenty minutes just to be connected.

Yes, Mr Forsyth knows his craft. He also knows what many thriller writers don’t. The climax must be short, or it becomes an anti-climax. “Anatomy of a kill” provides a brief but brilliant conclusion. There is even a fine twist in the end, perfectly natural and yet deepening the Jackal mystery by a mile. So, to put it bluntly, if he wasn’t Charles Calthrop, who the hell was he?

If you have seen the 1973 movie, the book will be very familiar to you. The script follows it very closely but for the obligatory cuts and changes (seldom improvements*). While cast, director and production leave little to be desired, the movie is a pale shadow. The novel provides a lot more complex and enthralling experience. At the respectable age of fifty, it remains one of hell of a thrilling experience on paper and, quite apart from that, a remarkable window in time to a past that in all probability can never happen again.

___________________________________________________
*Just one small example from the end when the Jackal infiltrates the secured area around his target by pretending to be a crippled war veteran. In the movie, he gives his correct address, and by his own accord, to the gendarme who checks his papers. Every self-respecting Jackal would never do that. He wouldn’t volunteer his address at all, and if asked would blandly give a wrong one. In the book, the Jackal is neither asked for information nor offers any. The gendarme notes his address while checking his papers and later remembers it. ( )
  Waldstein | May 23, 2021 |
It's weird doing the research around this. Bits and pieces of real detail, a flavor of history... I learned a lot from the surrounding stories while I read, and came away entertained, but not greatly enamored. Significantly less misogynistic than I expected, which was nice, but very much in vein with Flemming's undertones, if not the overt ass-hattery I find in Bond.

*shrugs*

So a fun read, but mostly for the other stories it led me to. ( )
  wetdryvac | Mar 2, 2021 |
A lot of good action and suspense, but at this point pretty dated. The racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia come across very differently now. Always interesting to read action/crime/spy stuff written in a different technological age -- how would an anonymous assassin operate now? ( )
  erikasolberg770 | Nov 3, 2020 |
GU-1
  Murtra | Oct 8, 2020 |
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Forsyth, Frederickprimär författarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Hernández, RamónÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Niessen-Hossele, J.F.Översättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Prebble, SimonBerättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Tropea, MarcoÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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ISBN 0854565655 is the Reader's Digest condensed (abridged) version of the book.

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France, infuriated by Charles de Gaulle's withdrawal from Algeria, had failed in six known attempts to assassinate the General. This book postulates that the seventh, mostly deadly attempt involved a professional killer-for-hire who would be unknown to the French Police. His code name: Jackal. His price: half a million dollars. His demand: total secrecy, even from his employers. Step by painstaking step, we follow the Jackal in his meticulous planning, from the fashioning of a specially made rifle to the devising of his approach to the time and the place where the General is to meet the Jackal's bullet. The only obstacle in his path is a small, diffident, rumpled policeman, who happens to be considered by his boss the best detective in France: Deputy Commissaire Claude Lebel.

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