It’s 1996 and another French president is marked for assassination. The novel is written in a documentary style, coldly methodical, often an omniscient point of view, ostensibly its facts gleaned from a number of sources after the events.
This works very well, and provides a strong sense of verisimilitude, thanks to the vast amount of precise detail, which clearly shows that Lander knows France, his weapons, his European cities, cars and boats.
The assassin is Lux, an American who prides himself on doing things right. As you’d expect, he’s an expert in weaponry and the varied methods of dealing in death. He’s hired – albeit through middle-men – by a dying New Zealander who has a final agenda, to start a green war. There’s plenty of verbal fencing between him and his new lieutenant, which is fun to read.
Naturally, nothing is straight-forward and there are double-crosses and deception, with the odd twist thrown in. There are plenty of characters involved, from the president’s office, through the police, to the co-conspirators, and they’re all delineated with skill.
As with Forsyth’s Jackal, we know the attempt fails, but thanks to the tightly plotted, fast-moving narrative, we really want to know what happens next, and whether Lux can get away, even if it isn’t murder. Yes, when you reach the end you do tend to ask, was this entirely fiction?
If you liked Day of the Jackal, you’ll love this. Lex Lander is a name to watch.