Book Review: Frederick Forsyth's Avenger
In the Tradition of Man on Fire
There are very few top-shelf revenge books. Certainly, A.J. Quinnell's Creasy series qualifies. Forsythe adds to the collection with Avenger, the story of Calvin Dexter. The protagonist is an attorney and triathlete who happens to be a Vietnam Vet. He served with distinction as a "tunnel rat", mastering the art of trapping Vietcong in the claustrophobic environs surrounding Cu Chi.
After returning to the States, he experienced a personal and painful family tragedy. From that point forward, Dexter devotes himself to bringing certain parties to justice. Parties that others fear or are protected by foreign governments.
One such party is Zoran Zilic, a monstrous war criminal who participated in some of the most gruesome crimes imaginable while Yugoslavia disintegrated. Zoran made the fundamental mistake of killing a volunteer aid-worker whose grandfather was a self-made Canadian billionaire. The grandfather, a World War II veteran, contracts Dexter to track down Zilic and exact revenge.
Two issues cloud Dexter's mission. First off, Zilic has fled Yugoslavia for parts unknown, having seen the writing on the wall. Secondly, U.S. counter-terror groups have positioned Zilic to run missions for them to help combat the rise of Al Qaeda. Zilic is one of the few persons trusted by the terrorist hierarchy and therefore is the perfect pawn. Thus, a mercenary vigilante like Dexter must be removed from the scene.
In intricately plotted detail, Forsythe describes how Zilic will be tracked down; how Dexter intends to accomplish his mission, come what may; and how the U.S. intends to deal with Dexter. Forsythe is still at the top of his game and "Avenger" -- trite name not withstanding -- is an outstanding read.