The Day of the Jackal, by Frederick Forsyth, stunned me at the end with its resonance.
I began reading this novel after Sol Stein recommended it in his book Stein on Writing as an example of structuring a story for suspense.
At first, I was a bit confused because so many of the “rules” of writing were violated. A great deal of narrative summary padded the beginning of the book and many uses of the passive voice existed.
What made Forsyth’s tale a modern classic and basis for popular movie versions?
I wasn’t blown away, but the story and the historical references interested me. So I continued listening to the audio book.
Enter the Jackal. At first, this character seemed like a modern anti-hero like so many assassins portrayed as good guys in movies. Forsyth showed him as a skilled professional not to be messed with. When an identity forger tries to double cross him, the Jackal ruthlessly takes him out.
A gunsmith treats the Jackal honestly, and the Jackal spares his life. Not every character is so lucky. Let’s just say that at a certain point, I thoroughly turned against the Jackal and wanted him to go down hard for his crimes.
Police Inspector Claude Labelle is introduced well in to the story, but quickly becomes a major character. By the end of the novel, I’m cheering him on and growling at everyone who seeks to destroy his reputation.
The Day of the Jackal entertains from start to finish, though I found the second half of the book exceptionally good. This is a novel I will read again for enjoyment, but will also study as an example of good writing.
Simon Preble performed the audio book. He’s one of the best readers I have listened to, and I devour audio books one after another.