The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth is a thriller released in 1971 and it captured the hearts of many. The suspense, the storytelling and the detail of the hunt made it an international success. Keep reading for a brief summary of the book and why you should add it to your to-read list!
The Day of the Jackal Summary
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. A failed attempt to kill the president by OAS leads the secret police of France to crackdown on OAS. That forces them to hide and take drastic measures.
After reviewing their options, the OAS decide to hire an assassin to kill the president. This assassin is not from France which means that neither the French government nor the OAS know anything about him. He is given the name The Jackal and he has to lay low until he can execute his plan.
The OAS bunkers down in a hotel while the French government tries to figure out what the OAS is up to. A trap for one of the bodyguards of the member of the OAS informs them of the assassination attempt. Other than that, they know very little of the plot itself and have to find out more about the Jackal before it is too late.
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.
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. And that is after the fact that the author tells us the assassination attempt fails within the first few pages!
Some of the best books come from real life inspiration. As most writers know, we think of many stories in our head throughout the day. Some writers can take that thought and write a whole book from it! Forsyth has written a timeless classic novel that has become synonymous with the spy genre!
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, which was released in the same decade, 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 1970’s but only one is remembered for being a great novel.