Frederick Forsyth ‘The Devil’s Alternative” book
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  • We see a picture in which one man’s fanaticism could smash the best laid plans of superpowers and the hopes and worries of a man who leads a nation and who needs the help of his enemies to prevent an extremist bent on conflict taking over from him

    • by Andrew HN Gray
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      The master is back! Freddie Forsyth is the author of so many exciting, well-written novels that another should be no surprise. In this case, he takes the former Soviet Union as the setting for his tale.

      A man is found floating on a skiff, far from land in the Black Sea. He has escaped the Soviet Union and, thanks to the ship that he is picked up by, he is soon safely tucked up in a hospital bed in Turkey. Word of this gets out to a young man with a burning desire to make Russia suffer for his father’s subject people. He now takes leave and flies


      to meet the man at his hospital bed. Now, he begins to plot his revenge on Russia.

      As ever, Forsyth is impeccable in his description of places and events. He can tell you how many paces it takes to cross a bridge in Moscow, or the décor inside the Kremlin. However, it is his attention to detail when talking of events at the level of international power politics, or the thoughts and feelings of a peasant tilling his fields which is so impressive. We need to bear in mind that he is a trained journalist who has been in hotspots in his time. He isn’t just an armchair ...


      • thriller writer. That is why, perhaps, his novels have the power to enthral. He leads us through seemingly unconnected avenues which gradually, ever so gradually, start to merge. We see a picture in which one man’s fanaticism could smash the best laid plans of superpowers and the hopes and worries of a man who leads a nation and who needs the help of his enemies to prevent an extremist bent on conflict taking over from him. In all this is a British agent and his love of old. We see how old fires can be relit and burn again with an intensity all of their own. Forsyth
        stokes those fires.

        Forsyth keeps us wondering until the very last page. He is a genius and his tales wring every emotion from us and we move from laughter to tears. Overall, however, it is the pace of his tale that wraps us up and gathers us into its arms for the journey. He never lets the pace slacken, unless it is to crank up the pressure again, so that putting the book down before bed is an agony and taking it up again in the morning is the relief of the smoker lighting his first of the day. Did I enjoy it? Do you need to ask?




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