Friday, August 9, 2013

THE KILL LIST by Frederick Forsyth

Frederick Forsyth adds his own homage to the war on terror with THE KILL LIST, read by the inimitable George Guidall, who may be the most prolific of all audiobook narrators. The list refers to a secret file of names which Technical Operations Support Activity (TOSA) keeps of terrorists they would like to eliminate. The agency actually exists, as does the list. Forsyth, the author of The Day of the Jackal and The Odessa File, has done his homework. The plot is simple: one terrorist named The Preacher (because he trains young Muslim recruits to assassinate Americans) has shot the wrong general---the father of a man who is now known as The Tracker. So it's a top gun sniper versus an elusive Al Qaeda operative. What the novel is really interested in showing is not so much a stereotypical two-dimensional rendering of action sequences in the style of Brad Thor, (exciting though those made be), or even the lovingly descriptive essays on high tech weapons systems in the style of Tom Clancy, but rather an insider's look at the mechanics of how terrorism operates. The human element is most important to Forsyth, as he recounts the thoughts of hostage negotiators in Somalia during a piracy standoff, or how a terrorist eludes the scrutiny of NSA hackers, or from drones tracking him invisibly from 60,000 feet. If you're expecting mindless slam-bang action without letup, such as what Hollywood delivers to the lowest common denominator, this is not your book. If you'd like to see inside the minds of both terrorist and hunter, it is. Guidall is up for the job of exploring the characters, his steady, sonorous voice maintaining an air of mystery, punctuated with suspense, which has served him through almost a thousand titles over the past decades.

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