Frederick Forsyth's forte since his first success "Day of the Jackal" has always been to take a topical subject (with a variety of characters that allow delving into different well known historical events), wrap a great story line around it and so make for an enjoyable escapist thriller read in the resulting novel or short stories book. This book does not buck that trend though it is a lot better than some of his more recent efforts.
The usage of a main character who was a Vietnam vet involved in the well documented (though ultimately sideshow) "Vietcong tunnel warfare" fighting and a Serbian war crimes background for the main story allows usage of a lot of well known base points then weaved into a good plot. However the upping of the storyline to then encompass Middle East terrorism and a Serbian war criminal who has built a secure fortress in South America and is being manipulated by the CIA gets us into familiar Forsyth territory that this is ultimately an escapist story that makes for a great and easy read on a long trip or holiday but will never stand up to great scrutiny or review.
As the Americans say "Enjoy!"
on 30 September 2003
Overall a very good read, good pace and plenty of action.
Although the leading character Cal Dexter is well written and developed the surrounding characters are paper thin and merit better descriptions.
The pursuit is good. As with other Forsyth novels his detail is immaculate. Very carefully constructed.
But the final part of the novel set in a South American banana republic and featuring an assault on a criminal hideout tends towards the James Bond school of fantasy islands and bad guys stroking cats.
The final twist in the plot is ingenious and unexpected.
on 9 September 2003
The latest effort from Frederick Forsyth, whilst still being 99% better than everything his peers aspire to, turns out to be a pale watercolour rather than a vivid masterpiece.
Similar in basic plot to his earlier book 'The Negotiator', it centres on Cal Dexter's quest to trace an Eastern European war criminal. Whilst the usual components are still present - twists and turns and the usual high level of research in particular - the element of magic is missing from this one. It's as though he needed to pay the mortgage and went to the 'Big Frederick Forsyth Thriller By Numbers' manual, rather than thought up something new and imaginative.
Don't ignore it - you do so at your peril - just don't expect something as good as 'Icon' or 'Fist Of God'.
on 25 January 2004
Certainly not as good as early Forsyth books, but a reasonable thriller none the less. The pace is jerky, at times slow, then speeding up and becoming too skimpy and losing detail and credibility. In the end it slows right down again with almost minute-by-minute action - and improves for it.
Is it possible Forsyth tried to cram too much into one book - we have Vietnam, the Middle East, the Balkans and the Central American jungle in a dizzy whirlwind. Perhaps a slightly narrower geographic field might have left him time (and energy) to devote to deepening the character field. Instead, we whizz around the world with people about whom we know a lot of biographically facts but not who they really are.
This appealed to me simply because I have an interest in 'vengeance' storylines as opposed to revenge, and although I enjoyed it, it didn't move me in particular, not emotionally at least.
It was a tremendous odyssey however, winging its way from such unusual places as Vietnam to Canada to Dubai and on to Surinam - among many others. Chief among those others was Bosnia, and I have to admit I welcomed this history lesson about a series of conflicts that I never truly understood as well as I do now, thanks to Fred! Likewise the guerrilla warfare in Vietnam, even the Second World war - how superbly the author entwines fact with fiction and fills us with, if we're honest, a lot of unexpected knowledge on the way through this somewhat long-drawn-out mission of justice. Thanks to fascinating background on the central character of Cal Dexter, in particular his years as a 'tunnel rat' against the tactically superior Viet Cong army, we know that he is more than capable of carrying out the seemingly impossible task of finding and returning the Serbian war-lord to the paymaster who recruited him for his role of avenger.
The tale contains more than passing associations with Al Qaeda too, and their 9/11 strikes, leaving the reader to wonder how it might have been avoided, or how Osama Bin Laden could have been found just days later. Not classic Forsyth I guess, but a mightily interesting tale nonetheless, and worth reading more than once.
on 23 September 2003
I must say I enjoyed this book but it seems to jump around a little too much and is a lot shorter than most of his other novels. It was a little too slow to get going but by the end I couldn't put it down. It's nowhere near as good as some of his earlier novels. I enjoyed Icon a lot more but I still would recommend this book as a good read if a little short.
on 17 February 2015
I love most of Frederick Forsyth's books and I am reading his whole oeuvre for the second time and am seldomly disappointed. In "Avenger" we get a bit of history on WWII, Vietnam War, The Yugoslav wars, the developing hatred of the Middle East for the Western World, i.e. the US. And even though, towards the end, some plots seem far fetched, but interesting. The character Cal Dexter is a man after my own heart for his morality, his abilities and aptitude. The end at the last page is totally unexpected and gave me a big smile and a feeling of regret that this was the end.
A very interesting book and a very unexpected end! I do so recommend it.
This book is a welcome return to the full-length thriller for Forsyth. It has a strong central character in Cal Dexter, and the backdrop of the criminal underworld's links to the Bosnian war and the CIA's lacklustre attempts at tracking down al-Qaeda provide an intriguing look into those secret worlds. As in all Forsyth's books the research is impeccable, although he does seem slightly at sea with computer technology (the book contains a misunderstanding of the use of PGP security). But this is a minor flaw. The major characters are given depth with thoroughly laid-out back stories and the loose-ends are neatly tied up at the end. You are likely to want to read this book if you liked The Day of the Jackal or The Negotiator. Those with an historical interest in the war in Bosnia will also find it an interesting read.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At his best, Forsyth is hard to beat..., 7 Dec. 2004
By Teemacs (Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)
This review is from: Avenger (Paperback)
...and this is Forsyth at his best. He did have the disadvantage of starting with the best thriller ever, "The day of the Jackal", and the only place to go from there was down. Some subsequent efforts have been clunky. Not this one. Freddie maintains the tension in an ingenious plot full of twists and turns, even during the descriptions of the planning and the filling in of historical background. Knowing Forsyth has a love of the O. Henry-type twist in the tail of the tale (remember how, in "Jackal", in the end he wasn't who he was supposed to be?), I was constantly on the lookout for it. I didn't spot it, but I was mightily entertained. So will you be.
on 14 November 2011
Everything by Frederick Forsyth is worth reading. I even buy the Daily Express every Friday especially for his full page article! This is a brilliant story, hard to put down - the first half is a little confusing as you piece together the different sub-stories and then as they gel together in context, everything becomes clear. Though I found myself having to go back and re-read sections to remind me who is who and who did what.
Part two is terrific, as we follow Cal Dexter as he meticulously plans and prepares for what looks to be an impossible task. However everything is logical and taken one step at a time, even seems plausible. Along the way hints are dropped which later fall into place - sometimes the reader guesses the outcome, sometimes not. When Cal visited the Hunter aeroplane at night I guessed correctly the importance of his purpose, other incidents came as a complete surprise.
Freddie indicates the dates of the episodes leading up to the finale, and I could not understand one thing here - as it became apparent that the narrative is leading up to September 11th, 2001, known as 9/11, and as a central theme of the book is the CIA's plot to get Bin Laden, I fully expected the ending to be crowned with the events of that day. But no, the story finishes on September 10th!
on 1 February 2009
I am rarely disappointed with Forsyth's stories. And I was not disappointed this time either. He caught me completely as I was really certain about the outcome of the story when I was 100, 50, 25, 10 pages from the end of the book, changing my assessment every time... I failed completely with all my ideas and conclusions. A very interesting book all in all, and a thrilling, shocking end! I entirely recommend it.
on 15 October 2003
Having enjoyed Icon, his most recent book before Avenger, and much of Frederick Forsyth's older work, the work struck me as typically Forsyth. It will involve multiple plots, some going back as much as 70 years of history (such as the billionaire Edmonds) and connecting with major recent historic events (in this case: the wars in former Yugoslavia). His research is throrough and enlightening; the news items from 10 years ago finally start making sense.
It seems Forsyth's new hero is American (see Jason Monk in "Icon"), although his fascination with special forces hasn't disappeared. Similarly, the theme of "revenge" has occurred more often in his recent work (in his recent collection of stories "the Veteran", 3 of 5 deal with revenge or poetic justice).
Of course, the plot in "the Avenger" is a bomb, especially when the much-anticipated "secret informer" is revealed on the final pages. Although the narrative of the one-man attack lasts for over 50 pages, it doesn't become boring or one-sided.
Tops book, Freddie. Please keep on writing this way; and don't let us wait for 7 years again! Nobody comes close to writing political/military suspense this way.