Book Review: “The Kill List” by Frederick Forsyth

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This is the first book, I have read written by a man this year, having enjoyed books by Elif Shafak, Margaret Atwood and Mary Shelley thus far. This is in marked contrast to my fifteen year old self (c.1980), who loved “manly” books like this and rarely read anything penned by a woman.

Frederick Forsyth has adapted the content to the 21st century, now the bad guys are jihadists not Soviets. The technology of drones, computer hackers and the Internet are all incorporated in the plot but it still has the taste of a cold war thriller. A secret message is passed in a container inserted in a kingfish, a character is actually called Gray Fox (I thought that was just a Trigger Happy stereotype) and there are lots of covert operations deep in enemy territory.

“The Kill List” of the title is a list of names of those who threaten the security of the US and the World. High on that list is “The Preacher” an amber-eyed and elusive jihadist whose sermons transmitted over the Internet, inspire his followers to kill Western targets in the US and UK. An ex-US Marine known as “The Tracker” is assigned to find and eliminate “the Preacher”. Much of the action takes place in southern Somalia, where jihadists proliferate, there is also a sub plot involving a Swedish freighter taken by Somali pirates.

If like me you grew up reading thrillers by the likes of Frederick Forsyth, Alistair Maclean, Desmond Bagley, this book won’t disappoint. There seems a wealth of background detail, although I’m not sure how accurate it is, the capabilities of the drones for example seems a little far fetched, but what do I know? There is a lot of action, both in the real and virtual worlds. The characters are not stereotypes, but they could be more complex.

My rating 4 out of 5

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