The Day of the Jackal | Frederick Forsyth | Book Review


“One man with a rifle who can change the course of history. One man whose mission is so secretive not even his employers know his name. And as the minutes count down to the final act of execution, it seems that there is no power on earth that can stop the Jackal.”

The selling point of any thriller is the fact that the reader has no clue on how things would pan out in the end. If you already know the ending, why would you want to read the rest of the book? But with his The day of the Jackal, Frederick Forsyth shows us that with a carefully constructed plot and attention to detail, you can keep the readers hooked even after revealing the end in the first few pages itself.

The background of The Day of the Jackal is the fact that OAS, a French terrorist group, are unhappy with Charles de Gaulle, the then French President for granting independence to Algeria and brand him a traitor. Attempts were made to assassinate him but failed, leading to the arrest of several of the leaders of the OAS. This leads them to believe that they have been infiltrated by the Secret Service and start looking for outsiders to get the job done. And after further failed attempts to get assassins, the group comes across an Englishman known for his incredible marksmanship. Nobody knows who he really is, but they arrange a meeting with him. He agrees to do the job and gives himself the codename “The Jackal”. What follows is how he gets all the tools necessary and the planning that goes into assassinating the French President, along with the obstacles he faces in the form of Deputy Commissioner Claude Lebel.

The first thing that strikes you about The Day of the Jackal is the way it is structured. It is divided into 3 parts: Anatomy of a Plot, Anatomy of a Manhunt, and Anatomy of a Kill. From the names itself, you know what the part is going to be. Part 1 talks about how the OAS plots the assassination of the president, followed by hiring the Jackal. Part 2 describes the manhunt that the French police initiate to find the assassin after they find out about the plot from one of the OAS’s bodyguards. Part 3 is the final culmination of the assassination attempt, with the Jackal and Lebel coming face to face.

The Day of the Jackal is a fascinating read, one that every reader in love with Thrillers should read. It makes you realise that the storytelling itself is more important than the ending, which would automatically rule out quite a few authors from your favourites list!

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