More than 40 years after he gave us the Jackal, Forsyth gives us the Preacher, a masked jihadi extremist whose videos are radicalizing Muslims in the U.S. and England into killing public officials, law enforcement officers and the like.
The Preacher tops a special list of enemies marked for death by a covert U.S. government agency. The man assigned the kill is decorated former Marine general Christopher "Kit" Carson, aka The Tracker, a fluent speaker of Arabic who has experience eliminating al-Qaida leaders. Carson has a personal investment in the operation: the Preacher was responsible for the death of his father. Having had his life saved by the Tracker several years ago in Afghanistan, the agency's director, "Gray Fox," has a special investment in him. When the government's best computer experts are unable to penetrate the Preacher's secret Internet protocol address, the Tracker recruits Roger Kendrick, an agoraphobic teenage computer whiz holed up in his room in Virginia. Drooling over the supersophisticated equipment he's given, he quickly determines he is up against the Preacher's own computer expert, dubbed the Troll, and creates a cyber alter ego to penetrate the Preacher's fan base. From there, the kid is a few steps away from planting malware that will enable the Tracker to determine who the Preacher is and where he is based—not Pakistan, where a cohort of his operates, or Yemen, as was thought, but Somalia. Here, Forsyth is as methodical—at times as colorless—as his subjects. But he powers his plot with a clean efficiency, providing an absorbing account of the clockwork moves and split-second decisions required to close in on and dispatch the enemy. Strong descriptions of the settings add to the book's appeal.
Inspired by an actual kill list, Forsyth's latest thriller is, like Day of the Jackal and The Odessa File, ready-made for the screen.