In the early 1970s, the world of thriller writing added a voice – Frederick Forsyth.
This Brit was a former freelance journalist, who turned his hand to write novels, inspired by the time he spent covering wars and news stories on the African continent.
His first book, The Day of the Jackal, was based on the real-life attempt by Organisation Armee Secree to assassinate the French President Charles de Gaulle.
Published in 1971, this first novel won the prestigious Edgar Allen Poe Award as well as becoming a worldwide bestseller. The following year in 1972, Forsyth penned The Odessa File, about a reporter tracking down an ex-Nazi SS officer.
His third book, The Dogs of War, published in 1974, was closely followed by The Shepherd in 1975, all bestsellers. Forsyth finished the decade with The Devil’s Alternative, which was set in the future and focused on the Soviet Union’s crisis with a bad grain harvest and how several players try to manipulate the situation to their advantage.
For the 1970s, Forsyth’s mix of politics, recent history and strong characters made his books popular with readers and bookstores, using his knowledge and imagination to create a fictional world that wasn’t too far from reality.
No surprise that of his books published in the 1970s, the majority were also made into successful films by Hollywood.
Focusing on the details, the spies, assassins, diplomats and mercenaries that inhabit the books are meticulous in their plotting, and Forsyth’s revelation of their worlds make for compelling reading, even in the 21st century.