Top positive review
10 people found this helpful
Day of The Jackal: The Early Years
on 21 May 2011
Writing historical fiction is a difficult discipline. One must inject enough historical verisimilitude to persuade the average reader, and enough to keep at bay the expert. One must quickly take the modern reader into a "reality" that they can comprehend yet one that has sufficient key differences to engage their sensibilities. The Flashman books are past masters at establishing plot, character and context is short order; "The First Assassin" follows skilfully in this noble tradition. Washington then is clearly different from Washington now, but "sleuthing" remains the same. The context is the opening weeks of the Presidency of Abe Lincoln. The author works hard not only to give the "good" characters a believable hinterland but does the same for the "villains". He may not agree with them, but they are multi-dimensional. The comparison with "The Day Of The Jackal" is a clear one, and it is a tribute to the excellent pace of "The First Assassin". The various parties assemble some distance apart, they start to approach, we see the practical sides of the mission of both assassin and Presidential security, the tracks seem to be about to collide but do not yet, dramatic changes alter things for both sides; this is a natural film script replete with a plot that refuses to run smoothly but that drives towards an inevitable end.
What a pity so good a villain had to go.