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Avenger Hardcover – September 30, 2003

4.2 out of 5 stars 240 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"The master is back," the promo goes, "with his best thriller since The Day of the Jackal." A bold statement: while no Jackal, this strong and memorable novel is his best in decades, and as good as The Odessa File and The Dogs of War. It is the story of vigilante Cal Dexter's pursuit of a Serbian warlord into the jungles of the fictional Republic of San Martin. Dexter, former Vietnam tunnel rat, now small-town attorney and clandestine kidnapper of refugees from justice, is after Zoran Zilic, a gangster who has escaped Serbia with a fortune but not before savagely killing an American aid worker who happens to be the grandson of a billionaire mining magnate. It's the magnate who sets in motion the operation against Zilic, first through a man known as "The Tracker," who locates him, then via the Avenger, whose task is to bring Zilic to American justice. But Zilic is protected in his South American jungle compound not only by the best security money can buy but also by a top FBI man who plans to use the warlord to help take out a dangerous terrorist named Usama bin Laden; much of the narrative takes place within weeks of 9/11, and is laced with irony. Forsyth fans won't be surprised that the action, always exciting, is supported by numerous briefings on matters geopolitical, historical and scientific; with Jackal, Forsyth established the now traditional formula of thrillers that educate as well as entertain. The digressions are frequent early on but no page lacks interest and the novel's second half, which focuses on the Avenger's attempted snatch of Zilic, is pure gold. This will hit bestseller lists high and hard and a sequel seems likely.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The Day of the Jackal, The Dogs of War, The Odessa File--these Forsyth blockbusters helped define the international conspiracy thriller. Forsyth's newest novel, his fourteenth, could well return him to those lofty heights. Once again, his crisp narration leads readers through labyrinths of criminal and espionage plots and through land mines of warfare, historical, contemporary, and threatening (the book stops on September 10, 2001). One of the amazing features of Forsyth's writing is the way he spotlights seemingly random, unconnected events, usually involving armed conflict, and then gradually weaves them all together into a seamless plot. This time out, World War II, Vietnam, Bosnia, and Cambodia take turns commanding center stage, held together by two protagonists: a middle-aged lawyer and an aging business tycoon, who have both suffered devastating losses. The tycoon's loss, that of his grandson on a relief mission in Bosnia, becomes subsumed in the mission of attorney Calvin Dexter, grieving father and former 'Nam tunnel rat, whose mission in life is to bring justice to those who have gotten away with murder. Perhaps the most fascinating part of the book is the in-depth chronicle (based on real-life stories of surviving veterans) of the excruciating, perilous work of the tunnel rats in ferreting out the Vietcong in their vast underground lairs. Forsyth's extraordinary care with detail, his solid voice, and his exquisite pacing make this a totally engrossing thriller. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Series: Forsyth, Frederick
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1st edition (September 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312319517
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312319519
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (240 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #401,449 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Tucker Andersen VINE VOICE on November 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
While AVENGER is not of the superb quality of DAY OF THE JACKAL and perhaps a few of Frederick Forsyth's others novels, it is still an outstanding work of fiction that should be enjoyed immensely by readers who have the patience to follow the author's narrative methodology. But for reasons detailed later in this review, this book is not for everyone. There are several elements to the story, and the author integrates them gradually in a somewhat unusual fashion, so much of the first few sections of the book are descriptions of events which have occurred in the past and which form the basis for the two complicated and interwoven aspects of the plot.
Attorney Calvin Dexter is a (superbly conditioned) triathelete who lives an apparently ordinary life in suburban N.J., a local boy raised by a working class father (who had been deserted by Cal's mother) and who returned from an Army tour of duty in Vietnam to earn a college degree and seemingly move on with his life. However, his experience as one of the members of the elite but unknown team of "tunnel rats" has combined with his own personal tragedy to form the basis of his alter ego - THE AVENGER of horrific crimes who can be hired to find and return the perpetrators of such crimes to face justice in a court of law. In a world of moral relativism and frequent lack of accountabilty, he still believes in the concepts of right and wrong, and of the possibility of justice and the necessity for punishment. In a parallel thread that forms the basis of Cal's next quest, an idealistic young volunteer,Ricky Colenso, disappears while working for an humanitarian aid organization in Serbia during the upheaval caused by the disintegration of Yugoslavia.
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Format: Hardcover
It's a pity Forsyth is barely known to most readers beyond his first and famous "Day of the Jackal". Some fourteen novels later, we find our author can be invariably counted upon for suspenseful stories, exciting action, and often ironic outcomes. Before "Avenger", his just prior book of five novellas, the "Veteran", exemplifies his knack for good story-telling and twisty endings, becoming one of our personal favorites of the year.
All these rewarding and entertaining qualities are back in this latest novel. Forsyth takes a little while, in a series of almost self-contained short stories, to give us the background of our leading characters, as well as educate us on some of the U.S. Intelligence machinations prior to 9/11. But the story soon takes off for real as Army Vet Calvin Dexter, who we learn is the self-appointed mercenary of justice called The Avenger, hunts for a murderous Serb. The challenges he must overcome, including the target's virtually impenetrable physical security, leave us in wonder of the man's cleverness and guile. The end is to say the least both satisfying and heavily ironic -- for if this tale were indeed true, it would have actually, and of course accidentally, facilitated the terrorist attacks by Bin Laden. You won't be disappointed for a minute with this latest Forsyth thriller!
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Format: Hardcover
Lets get this straight. Frederick Forsyth is the Master storyteller. Even Masters let it slip sometimes. Avenger is a slip.
This book is better than 98% of the action/fiction books out this year. But, possibly one of Forsyth's worst ever. This is the same man who gave is The Veteran & Icon in the last 5 years and absolute classics like Day of the Jackal, Dogs of War, Fourth Protocol, Negotiator & Fist of God apart from his short stories.
The plot should have been a short story. The book is 80% background stories & 20% plot.
To sum it up, so-so but nothing close to the Master's best work.
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Format: Hardcover
With his latest work, Forsythe is back with a vengeance. This book is outstanding. The central character, Calvin Dexter, is a complicated man. On the surface, he is a successful small-town gentleman lawyer, who in his spare time trains as a tri-athlete. Below the surface, he has a history as a highly skilled Viet Nam veteran and, as the reader comes to find out, in the present day operates secretively as the Avenger - the righter of wrongs for people with no where else to go.
As the story opens, the grandson of a very wealthy Canadian businessman is brutally murdered in Bosnia, setting the wheels in motion for a contract with the Avenger to bring those responsible to justice. Forsythe effectively intermingles past and present to lay the foundation for the storyline, introduce a host of characters, and to bring meaning and motivation to Dexter's character. Dexter has blue-collar roots and is an up-from-the-bootstraps success story. Highly intelligent, although not highly educated (his law degree notwithstanding), Dexter comes from the school of hard knocks - able to think strategically and tactically. He is a character with an abundance of courage, integrity and personal fortitude - all of which will be required as he goes up against seemingly impossible odds to fulfill.
Forsythe is able to effectively weave cultural and political facts and actual events into the story to provide a realistic backdrop for the action - and there IS action. Avenger was very difficult to put down. The story moves forward with pace - full of suspense and plot twists that the reader has come to expect from Forsythe. For anyone interested in the action thriller genre, Avenger is a "must read."
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