A section from
‘A Jedi shall not know hatred, nor fear… nor love.’ from Star Wars Episode II
Avenger - Frederick Forsyth
Across the grave the 81-year old Canadian stood in his dark suit like a pillar of his own pentlandite ore and looked unblinkingly down at the coffin of his grandson. He has not shown the report from the Tracker to his daughter or son-in-law and certainly not the testimony of Milan Rajak.
‘Daddy, whoever did this to my baby, I want him caught. Not killed quickly and cleanly. I want him to wake in jail every morning for the rest of his life and know that he is there and will never come out again, and I want him to think back and know that it is all because he cold-bloodedly murdered my child.’
The old man had already made up his mind.
‘I may have to move heaven,’ he rumbled, ‘ and I may have to move hell. And if I must, I will.’
If you were a mining Billionaire with a teenage grandson who went off to do some heart-felt social service in the war-torn former-Yugoslavia only to end up captured, tortured and then drowned alive in a cess-pit of human filth by Serbian warlords, what exactly would you do? You would do your best to hunt down and beat the Serbian warlord to within an inch of his life and then piece back the S.O.B just so that you could do it to him again.
And that is exactly what Steve Edmonds wanted to do, but as a WW2 ace and mining magnate he knew the ways of the world. Edmonds reaches out to a fellow veteran - now a senator in Wasington who pledges support for the extradition of the warlord.
‘My friend, if this government of Washington cannot give you justice, then no one can.’
He raised his glass.
‘One last good thing.’
But he was wrong.
When Edmonds receives word from his friend in the senate he is disappointed to learn that the mighty US of A is helpless in obtaining the extradition simply because the warlord is no longer on their radar. But Edmond doesn't make friends with the weak or the meek. Slipped in with the bad news from the senator are sketchy details of a freelance mercenary who brings criminals back from anywhere in the world to face the good ol’ American justice system.
Edmond makes contact with that man.
Enter Mr. Calvin Dexter. Former US Marine, Vietnam, Tunnel Rat, former prosecutor and currently attorney-at-law. Widower and father to a murdered daughter. Triathlon practitioner for dealing with personal loss. Answers to specifically worded advertisements in Vintage Airplane magazine for Avenger.
Readers of espionage bemoan the end of the Cold War that left espionage thrillers reeking of computers, satellites and smart bombs doing the intelligence gathering, surveillance and assassination rather than good ol’ twisted agents getting their hands dirty. In Avenger, Frederick Forsyth’s plot seamlessly incorporates computers with legwork; and takes up the cause of a man who cannot be helped by modern tech alone.
Cal Dexter is a troubled man who addresses pain with pain. He channels the agony of his losses through his vocation. Not in the guise of a lawyer but as a former special forces veteran who has evolved in skill to address the problems that cannot be helped by governments. Dexter’s grounded approach as a soldier and as a lawyer has made him many friends of questionable repute but undeniable skill. And this is where Dexter (the dinosaur) mixes tech with old-school espionage.
The Forsyth Pointman - Calvin Dexter
Quinn (from The Negotiator), Jason Monk (from Icon) and Sam McCreedy (from The Deceiver) were Frederick Forsyth’s American heroes. The rest of his thrillers have British / European protagonists (The Jackal, Munro, Martin, Preston, Carlo Shannon, Miller). In Avenger he introduces a all-American hero who is still vintage Forsyth.
Cal Dexter is born of a loveless marriage and grows up on whichever construction site employs his father. He goes to Vietnam to fight the war, then to law school, marries a pretty Italian girl and has a beautiful daughter. But his perfect life is shattered before he can help his loved ones and Cal is left a broken man. It takes him time to accept that the void will never be filled, and that the pain will never go away, but he decides to fight the pain and adopts a new vocation to that end.
Cal is not a large man, but what he lacks in height he makes up in tenacity, recalcitrance and quick fists. Scooped up by the most hard-core unit in the Vietnam War, Cal joins an elite group of ‘laconic loners’ whose tasks are so deadly that the rest of the soldiers avoid them as someone would avoid one condemned to die. But die Calvin does not. He fights the Veit Cong on their own turf and luckily emerges unscathed.
But while his ice-cold nerves made him few friends in the army, he did not lose his humanity. Calvin the lawyer is as uncontrollable by rules as Calvin the soldier, helping those whose plight justice cannot see. The helpless few whom he had assisted in the past are drawn back into his life in this book.
After you have put down this book you will realize that Cal’s physical prowess played only a supporting role in his adventure. His brilliance was in the details and the planning. Like a spider he spins a web that will catch the large prey that he is after. And he in turn outplays and outwits those hunting him. In typical Frederick Forsyth tradition it takes a little disambiguation, a few false and confusing identities, hunters becoming the hunted becoming the hunters again and so on until the last page has been turned. Then you realize that by skill, luck and tenacity the Forsyth Pointman was leaps and bounds ahead of his adversaries - ever the professional’s professional.
The Forsyth Rendition
In The Day of the Jackal, Frederick Forsyth provided readers with the basic template of how an assassination would be carried out. The Dogs of War spilled the beans on staging a military coup. In Avenger Frederick Forsyth exposes the how-to mechanics of an independent rendition.
This book is no pulp-espionage; it is a multi-layered plot covering the trials of people, the gross actions of evil, world politics, deep friendships, mind-numbing personal losses, granite-like determination and wily tradecraft all in a terse 350 pages that only the most skilled writer could accomplish. As usual, real politicians and bureaucrats are given their due with minor roles; and the setting is the world politics with a focus on the Bosnian War and human rights atrocities.
The plot is thick and interwoven; much like a tall Jenga tower that would crumble of even of piece were removed. With due seriousness to the story Mr. Forsyth has no female roles of note in the book because they contributed nothing to the story, as he explained in a BBC HardTalk interview.
Eichmann Files: How the Mossad snatched one of the greatest Nazi War Criminals
When studying the topic of rendition, that of Adolf Eichmann from Argentina by the newly formed Mossad cannot be ignored. Everyone knows Mossad are right up there with the CIA and MI6, and if you take into consideration budgets then the Israeli intelligence organisation wins hands-down. Mossad brought the perpetrators of the Olympic massacre at Munich to book, they assassinated Saddam Hussein’s nuclear scientists and so on. But the kidnapping of Eichmann from Argentina was special. It was carried out when Mossad was still being established, and it aimed to bring to justice one of the worst perpetrators of Hitler’s Final Solution.
Adolf Eichmann was an architect of Hitler’s Final Solution for the Jews of Europe; Eichmann’s efficiency as an administrator ensured the execution and torture of many lives even when times were tough for the Nazi regime. Once the war was over then came vengeance and justice. Nazi officers were identified and caught to be put up for trial at Nuremberg. However there were many who could not be identified properly. This predicament gave rise to the Hanokmin or the avenging angels who would not allow the Nazi’s they caught a trial. The officer in question would be identified, called out when he was unguarded, isolated and read out his crimes. Then he would be shot.
Adolf Eichmann escaped the system and disappeared. Until Isser Harel - the formidable head of Mossad received information of his whereabouts in 1957. Eichmann was in Argentina. Determined to bring Eichmann to trial in an Israeli court of law Harel went to his Prime Minister - Ben Gurion and got his mission sanctioned.
Isser put together a team of specialists (most of which had suffered personal tragedy at the hands of Hitler’s cronies) and meticulously planned the rendition. First the information was established as bona fide and Eichmann was identified; then Mossad would carry out the kidnapping. But suddenly their target disappeared again. It would take till the end of 1959 for Mossad agents to pick up his trail again. This time they would not lose it.
Armed with an overdose of information about Eichmann, the agents would once again have to confirm the identity of their man. Eichmann had adopted the name Ricardo Klement. After confirming all physical characteristics through keen observation Mossad got their final confirmation from a little celebration in Eichmann’s / Klement’s household that took place on his silver anniversary.
At this point Isser flew to Argentina to taste a piece of the action. Forgers, doctors, strongmen, drivers and a host of other specialists were among the enlisted, and each were given their specific tasks. Safe-houses were established and backgrounds set up. One agent was tasked with getting treated for injuries after an accident, and on those grounds procuring doctor’s papers for safe release to Israel. Those papers would be forged to fit a drugged and sedated Eichmann - if and when he was caught.
Eichmann was nabbed in vintage style. Cars with hoods up under the pretext of engine trouble waited for Eichmann to return home. Once he was spotted the strongman grabbed him and threw him into the car, gagging and blind-folding him and throwing him to the floor of the car. Eichmann was then kept in a safe house for nine days till the appropriate cover for escape was established. Isser and all the Mossad agents looked at the monster in surprise. They expected an overbearing and arrogant animal and all they found was a bespectacled, broken and nervous man.
With the war-criminal in their clutches the agents could fully confirm his identity, tattoos and all. Eichmann himself helped with his SS and political party numbers and even openly identified himself.
On the appointed day he was dressed as part of an Israeli contingent and driven to the airport surrounded by agents. He constantly had to be held up on both sides. Customs and passport control check-points were nerve-racking for the agents, and Isser even set up a small base of operations at the airport cafeteria. The final moments when the drugged Eichmann had to be secretly carried up the steps to the airplane almost exposed the operation. The agents could only relax once the plane was airborne; and maybe not even then as angry Israeli’s were at risk of attacking the hated Nazi.
Once the plane landed in Israel Isser drove directly to Prime Minster Ben-Gurion’s office. ‘I have brought you a little present’ the usually reticent Mossad head said.
Related Links at FactBehindFiction.com
ISSER HAREL bio: ‘When Isser looks at you, said one of his agents, ‘you feel like you’re already in prison.’
The Day of the Jackal: The Day of the Jackal is Frederick Forsyth’s most celebrated work and also what he is most associated with. Forsyth wrote only after thoroughly researching the topics involved in his stories because of his own disappointment with the authors’ lack of knowledge in books he himself read. However the depth of research in The Day of the Jackal inspired at least one assassin and one would-be assassin…
The Cobra: The Cobra - Paul Deveraux is properly described on the back cover but a more fitting description can be found while reading the main text: “He loathed political correctness, preferring courtly good manners to all, save those who were clearly the enemies of the one true God and / or the United States.” Devereux is physically present in precious few scenes but his influence permeates the meticulous plotting and actions that populate the pages.
The Dogs of War: Sir James Manson, Knight of the British Empire, chairman and managing director of Manson Consolidated Mining Company has all the money he’ll ever need. What he doesn’t have is the patience to deal with long and winding political methods to get what he wants. Not when he sees a potential ten billion dollars up for grabs. He has the resources and the methods and he intends to make full use of both. Firmly grounded in the realities of business and politics he knows ‘there was only one commandment, the eleventh, “Thou shall not be found out.’
The Way of the Jackal: Only a few people really know. Not even the real hero of the thriller finds out. But we are provided with a few sketchy details about him. He was a mercenary in Katanga (the Congo), and his skills and contacts obtained in that war enable him to become an ice-cold assassin. The Jackal came to choose his profession because of the adrenaline junkie within and love for the good life that money can buy. He quits a mundane day-job and dives into a life of cloak-and-daggers and sniper rifles. He is physically fit and a deadly killer even with his bare hands, and attractive enough to seduce at will in a kind of dark James Bond way. A thorough professional and conscious-less killer, he doesn't digress from the unspoken rules he has established.
References and Further Reading
-The Mossad: Inside Stories
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