The 'master storyteller
', Frederick Forsyth is a British
novelist of several famous thrillers. He was born in 1938
and joined the Royal Air Force
, becoming a pilot
at the young age of 19. Yet after only two years of service he quit to become a journalist
at the Eastern Daily Press
. This was followed by more exotic stints in Paris
and East Berlin
as a correspondant for Reuters
, and in 1965
he returned to London
to serve as a television and radio journalist for the BBC
. This was where he rose to prominence reporting on the Biafra-Nigeria war
In 1969 his research in Nigeria was published by Penguin as The Biafra Story, and he then turned his hand to writing fiction.
His hectic and diverse life as an foreign correspondent and an inquisitive investigative journalist gave him a masterful knowledge of the cultural and political life of many corners of the world. The plots of several of his novels revolve around those who live their lives in the shadows - spies, Nazi fugitives, Soviet politburo members, mercenaries, prostitutes, hired assassins, Iraqi nuclear scientists, art forgers and others - many of whom are accurately based on characters he has interviewed.
The plots in his novels are slow to evolve, designed to work up to a thrilling (if occasionally predictable) conclusion. A trait of Forsyth are the episodic biographies of various characters, no matter how minor they are to the plot, which are tangently inserted in his stories. This makes the characters appear more human than we would expect. Very human frailties like greed, pride and stupidity cause villians to act the way they do, while the heroes appear suprisingly colourless and ordinary, except they keep their heads down and be solid plodders at their regular jobs.
Forsyth is prepared to go into great lengths describing subject matter and technical detail, making his stories sound chillingly plausible.
More recently Frederick Forsyth has dabbled in fantasy and recreating historical events, perhaps prefering to be investigative in a library than in some God-forsaken African warzone. He also regularly broadcasts Saturday Essays on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
The Biafra Story (1969)
The Day of the Jackal (1971)
The Odessa File (1972)
The Dogs of War (1974)
The Shepherd (1975)
The Devil's Alternative (1979)
No Comebacks (1982)
The Fourth Protocol (1984)
The Negotiator (1989)
The Deceiver (1991)
The Fist of God (1994)
The Phantom of Manhattan (1999)
The Veteran (2001)
No Comebacks and The Veteran are collections of short stories. The Deceiver also consistes of several short stories, linked together around a common plot. Frederick Forsyth also edited Great Flying Stories (1991), containing stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Roald Dahl, Len Deighton, Edgar Allan Poe and H. G. Wells, and his own short story The Shepherd.
The Odessa File, The Dogs of War, The Fourth Protocol and (twice) The Day of the Jackal have been adapted into films. Icon was released as a mediocre television mini-series.