I was thinking of reading this book for quite a while, especially after watching the movie “The Jackal” which was loosely made on the original movie made on the book “The Day of the Jackal”. I totally loved the movie Jackal for so many reasons, my favorite Bruce Willis for being the ultimate Jackal, my wife’s favorite Richard Gere as the detective trying to catch the bad man and our neutral favorite Sidney Poitier as the man in support trying to save the First Lady from the clutches of the Jackal. I have lost count how many times we must have seen the movie yet totally loving it every-time. But as it happens so many times when I pick up a supremely acclaimed classic I always dread what if it doesn’t work for me? Exactly same happened with me while I read this book, here are my reactions as I kept reading it to the very end:
25% into the book: The political commentary just doesn’t comes to an end and makes it a very challenging read. (I guess the movie was way better).
30% into the book: Finally the Jackal makes an entry and the things start to get interesting.
50% into the book: Alright, we know he is set and his target is set, but where is the good cop who is going to stop him?
60% into the book: Finally the good cop starts making his move and things start getting thrilling.
70% into the book: Should I call in sick?
80% into the book: Hope people don’t call me today.
90% into the book: Dinner is ready, colleagues calling, I am ducking inside my cubicle.
100% into the book: Bravo, this is the best thriller ever, Hats off Mr. Forsyth, please tell me that you wrote a sequel.
My opinion on Movie (1997 Richard Gere and Bruce Willis’s one): Strictly average, the book is way way better.
Ironically the book is based on one of the attacks on French President Charles De Gaulle’s life out of half a dozen attempts various people made on the man but he still survived all of them :). On top of that what shocked me to no end was the spoiler that Frederick Forsyth himself gives precisely at the point I had read 30% of the book, giving away the ending himself. Fortunately even that takes nothing away from the book and story as it isn’t about what is done but it is more about How it is done which keeps the reader on the tenterhooks. How kool is that. But one thing is there that during the entire course of reading (3 days I guess), all I could visualize was Bruce Willis as the Jackal, Richard Gere as Lebel the Commissioner on a cat and mouse chase game, one hell bent on killing the head of the state (France) and other will leave no stone untruned in saving the same man. On top of that my mind kept playing the superb outstanding background score of the movie throughout the book. Unbelievable experience it was. And now I know why this book keeps coming up almost always when we talk about the top ten thrillers of all time. No wonder, it will show up in my list too now onward.
Imagine a book written almost 50 years back, still holds up the thrill so well. The ease with which the Jackal keeps changing the identities with a set target in mind and lets nothing come in between him and the man he was slated (paid) to kill. The way Commissioner Lebel leaves nothing for Jackal’s benefit but is always almost a few steps behind him, the thrilling way he and the secret service of a dozen nations come together with the help of Interpol to find a needle in a haystack was seriously outstanding writing. Mind-blowing is the way how convincingly Author opens up all the cards for the reader, totally keeping me grinning from ear to ear. I can vouch now that I haven’t read a better thriller, although it is quite challenging as I said in the starting but I had full faith on my friends who are always praise for this book and Mr. Forsyth. And the story pays the ultimate dividend as it progresses to the chilling and edge of the seat thrilling ending.
Now I am totally eager to watch the original movie made in 1973 to see how close it comes to the book. Have you read the book or seen the two movies based on it? Which one as per you is the better version? And if you haven’t read the book, I guess you already know what I want you to do. Would it show up on your top ten favorite thrillers?