The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth is a thriller released in 1971, the same year as the previous book I reviewed, Jaws. The Jackal is a story about a professional assassin hired to kill the President of France.
The book was based on an actual assassin attempt on the President of France in 1962 but the events in the story are fictional. The Jackal went on to win the 1972 Best Novel Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. It is a well written book that pulls the reader in even though the plot is told to us in the first few pages. Not many people can get away with that but Forsyth uses it to his advantage and has us wondering what will happen even though we already know.
France is in the middle of a war with the OAS, a military organization that mutiny’s against France and want to kill the President because they believe he is a traitor to his nation. The novel starts off with an failed attempt to kill the President and now have to hide as the secret service hunts them down and infiltrate their group. The new leader of the OAS hires an assassin from another country that is not on anyone’s file and hope he can do the job since the secret service has nothing on him.
What I loved about this novel is the suspense it builds up to the ending. You are invested in this assassin’s carefully plotted mission and want to find out what happens next. It takes you on a wild journey all over France and towards the president.
What stands out to me is how great the writing was for this novel and how it has stood the test of time. It is still read today by many people and that is how you know a book is great. Jaws was made into the biggest blockbuster movie of its time but the novel has not left the same mark. You can tell how different the writing is. Both books came out in 1971 but only one is remembered for being a great novel.