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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 24 May 2014
This is a very average book from a fantastic author. It's so much more mundane than his best books, you wonder how much effort actually went into this one - it feels like it was phoned-in for the cash. It's a linear story - very little character depth, very few plot turns, very predictable and very 2 dimensional. Despite the obvious research (as always) it does feel as though the basic plot is too contrived (the "Tracker" tasked with finding the "Preacher" just happens to have his dad killed by a jihadist whilst he's already on the case - "now it's personal!") There's also some rather big plot holes - we have an autistic teenager able to hack into any system in the world, and the way in which the Tracker discovers the real name of the Preacher is a real stretch - an Afghan villager happens to recognise the voice of the preacher speaking in English - 10 years after he last heard the man speaking in Pashto - and even though he doesn't speak English and doesn't see his face he "knows" it's the same person, really?

The plot itself is very formulaic - Good Man (the Tracker) tries to find the Bad Guy (the Preacher) - and apart from a brief diversion with a subplot about Somali pirates, that's pretty much it. They find him, follow him then kill him. No twists, nothing unexpected.

Obviously lots of people on Amazon disagree judging by the 4 and 5 star reviews - I guess all I can say is that if you think this is good you'll be absolutely blown away by his better books (Day of the Jackal, Odessia, Fist of God etc) which are so, so much better than this.

Overall a big disappointment.
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on 17 February 2014
Remember Colonel Mike Martin - Forsyth's creation that appeared in The Fist of God and The Afghan? You know the one I mean - British paratrooper and SAS legend who was the star of both books? Yeah, you remember - the character that made you turn the page and keep on reading without putting the book down, especially in The Afghan. Well Frederick has come up with an American version - The Tracker.

In this book, we learn his name, and we learn his history, and he's an instantly likeable character. US Marine, Arab linguist/specialist etc etc, working for a secret CTU-style agency called TOSA (Technical Operations Support Agency), and his mission? Find and neutralise The Preacher - a new extreme terrorist who is shaping the wills of many to carry out atrocities in the UK and the USA.

Forsyth has delved once again into extremism after his break with The Cobra. And why not? It's current and is a good idea to give us a new bad guy to hate. After the death of Bin Laden I wondered if Frederick would delve back into this territory and produce an espionage tale with military might. But here we don't get a Seal Team Six - that would have been too obvious and cliche. Not even the SAS feature in this book. Instead, we get the Pathfinders. Bravo, I say. If you've never heard of the Pathfinders - read this book to find out more. They're not fictitious - they do exist in Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the real world, and here Forsyth gives us an ensemble cast of an Airborne team of British squaddies who get to ply their trade on foreign soil with the backing of the British PM and the President of the USA, proving that the Special Relationship has never been better.

Sadly, in my opinion, the Pathfinders arrive too late in the book to make the reader totally care whether this team live or die as they carry out their mission. They are likeable, but it is necessary to stick them in towards the end, and you'll see why as you read, but they are far too brief for my liking.

Somali pirates, merchant seamen, lawyers and negotiators all have roles to play in this twisting tale, but it's the Tracker and his uber-geek hacker recruit who are the stars of the show. It's a shame that the Pathfinders weren't it for longer, I may have given this five stars.

It's a good story - not Forsyth's best, but very readable, and re-readable. I wonder what's next up Forsyth's sleeve - an attack on the incompetent Environmental Agency?
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 September 2013
Every Tuesday morning, the President of the United States, with a small number of advisers, reassesses the kill list. When young western men are radicalised by the words of an extremist Islamic cleric to the extent that they blow up, shoot, slaughter leading American and British diplomats and politicians, it is just a matter of time before The Preacher is added to the top of the list. On his trail is former US marine Kit Carson, otherwise known as The Tracker, but the hunt is not just professional. It becomes deeply personal.

The Kill List presents the Tracker's forensic, methodical and relentless pursuit of his target's identity and life. The Preacher is not a `normal' terrorist. He makes full use of digital technology to both disseminate his video sermons amongst his followers and hide their origin. The Tracker, though, has a bonus up his sleeve - the brilliant Hacker. The Hacker is a teenager, unable to leave his own home but with the key to the world's network of communications at his fingertips. Further afield, on the ground is an agent prepared to put himself in the greatest of danger as the secret forces of America's allies unite against the Preacher.

Frederick Forsyth, author of The Day of the Jackal, is an undoubted master of spy thrillers and, with The Kill List, he shows himself to be well up to date with the latest techniques of perpetrating and discovering acts of terror. The success of The Kill List, and what made it unputdownable for me, is the time spent constructing the background to the characters. In an almost dispassionate tone, we are guided through the lives of both Tracker and Preacher, through the horrendous methodology of the Preacher, his recruits and his immediate circle, as well as the actions of Somali pirates and the means by which negotiations are brought to a successful conclusion - or not. It's an extremely effective technique of building tension, with layer upon layer of cause and effect, and as the novel proceeds the tension becomes almost unbearable. Just what you want from a thriller.

The Kill List also takes us on a journey through many of the world's danger zones, while highlighting the consequences of these places on the suburbs, golf courses and shopping centres of the west.

While Forsyth has undoubtedly moved with the times when it comes to 21st-century terrorism, he has yet to leave the 20th century behind when it comes to the role of women in modern life. This is not a woman's world. There are very few female characters and the most memorable is a tealady. This didn't affect my enjoyment of the novel, which is never less than engrossing, but it did give it an old fashioned air that contrasted severely with its modern villain and hero.

I think that comparisons are inevitable with this summer's hit spy thriller I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. While I did prefer I Am Pilgrim, not least for its ambition, The Kill List, at half its size, is an elegant and perfectly structured, satisfying thriller, which above all else defines the word `tense'. I would recommend that you read them both.
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on 20 November 2013
While fast paced with all the usual thriller whistles and bells, this is really for the fans and converted. It's all a bit flat and improbable and you find yourself exclaiming, 'Oh come on now', too may times. I know it's fantasy, but it's not up to intricacies and deviousness of his earlier books - fewer threads and sub plots. Enjoyable nontheless, but unlike some his earlier books which you'd re-read, this one's not at that standard.
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on 3 August 2014
Is this really the same author as The Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File, etc?!?! - Difficult to believe.

The writing is very bland and pedestrian.
Worse still is the utter piece of stupidity in the plot. Specifically, the plot is well up and running, USA specialist on the trail of an Al Quaeda operative inciting people to kill public figures.
The body count is very low, perhaps half a dozen in the USA (since these are individual assassinations) by 40% of the way through the book. Thus is it utterly absurd that the father of the USA specialist happens to be killed, as an innocent bystander to one of the killings. I.e. out of 6 or 8 people out of the entire population of the USA, this father just happens to be randomly killed. All of which adds absolutely ZERO to the plot, other than the fact that it is now 'personal' for the USA specialist. What utter garbage!!!

I enjoyed the well researched info' on the organisation and operations of the intelligence and spec-ops agencies, and for that reason alone I give it 2 stars (even though I was unable to continue reading after having my intelligence insulted by the above-mentioned absurdity).
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 30 October 2013
An English speaking Islamic cleric is sending out internet sermons via an elaborate network radicalising Western Muslims into becoming hate-filled Jihadist assassins of high ranking officials followed by suicide. The villain is known as The Preacher. Unfortunately one of the kills is a retired Marine general. His son, Arabic speaking US Marine Officer Kit Carson, has been summoned by the President to head the quest to find the Preacher and demolish his followers. The Preacher tops the US Kill List. Carson is known as The Tracker. He has nothing tangible to go on and enlists the help of a young computer genius (Ariel) in his determination to find the Preacher. He provides him with the best available computer equipment that enables his mastery of the internet to scrutinise most parts of the world. The hunt is on.

This is a well-researched contemporary novel and full of technical and military detail. The battlefield now consists of both cyberspace and the desert with the Tracker later involving Human Intelligence, drone planes and other unconventional methods in his search. This is a pacey page-turning thriller and Forsyth still shows his mastery of the genre. It does not develop it's characters into fully 3-dimensional figures and the plot construction is taut and economical in its prose lacking its usual level of action, twists and turns. The ending has been criticised by some reviewers as being predictable leaving an unfinished impression. I did not personally find that.

This, despite a few flaws, is a compelling thriller of a terrorist cat and mouse chase and how they operate written by the undisputed expert, Frederick Forsyth completed long before the Jihadist attack in Nairobi. Entertaining, gripping and recommended.
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on 27 September 2014
A new book from the master - Oh Dear, what a disappointment! Topical, certainly, in these days of fundamentalist brutality. I must not spoil by writing more about the plot, the development, the characters and dialogue but for this reader who recalls the superb mastery of suspense in creations such as 'The Fist of God' or earlier material such as 'The Odessa File', this was a lightweight let-down. More, I suspect, a latter day money-spinner than a Forsyth type tour de force. Rather glad to get to the end racing through the last quarter or so of the book.
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The Kill List isn't the best novel I've read by Frederick Forsyth but it's still makes for a decent read. There's so much care and attention in the details especially when it comes to geographical settings and technology. Forsyth is so experienced he knows exactly how to set a believable stage for his novels. My reservation has to be events become predictable. I don't think I was once caught unawares by anything that happened. The Kill List is basically two characters, 'The Preacher' and 'The Tracker', involved in a high-tech cat and mouse chase with only one real conclusion. There's little in the way of intrigue. It only takes a couple of small errors by one of the characters and the chase is on, their whereabouts known and the full impact of modern day technology aimed in their direction. It's all good stuff, well written but one dimensional. It's not difficult to fully guess the outcome or the direction the plot will take to get there. I'm slightly underwhelmed if I'm being perfectly honest.
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on 29 June 2014
I found this book by Fredrick Forsyth not up to his usual standard. It's as someone had written for him and he had thrown in a few words. I've read every other one of his books, but this one lacks all his old charisma and suspense. I suppose authors are allowed the odd failure and this is Fred's. I'll still read his books although the passion has gone and for lack of other words, it's all too Americanised. However, keep on writing Fred, as I'm sure there are other good stories left in the brainbox. Thanks however for all your other wonderful work.
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on 9 July 2014
Like a new Rolling Stones record: you more or less get what you expect, it's not that bad, but it's not that memorable.

As an early teenager one of the first novels I read was the Odessa File. I was captivated by the style, seemingly insider knowledge and pace of the story. Forty years later some of those trademarks are still there - like well-rehearsed guitar riffs - the enemy has moved, this time to the present and Somalia, and the story is engaging enough.

But just how much demand is there for yet more description of covert intelligence agencies within agencies, military aircraft and equipment populated by characters so perfect they can only be cut from cardboard. These people have no real lives, no real relationships, there's not even the 'flawed copper' character that pops up in crime genres, for example, and can give the lead a bit of a human touch

So it all becomes pretty tedious really. I persevered to the end but found Private Eye's parody of this pretty spot on. After reading not too many pages about the Preacher and the Tracker you the Reader, have become the Sleeper. Like the Stones and Monty Python, Forsyth's best is way back in the past.
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