Frederick McCarthy Forsyth CBE (born 25 August 1938) is the author of several best-selling books, most famously The Day of the Jackal and The Odessa File. These two were adapted into reasonably good films. Others have been adapted with less successful results. Also wrote The Dogs of War, and the short story "The Shepherd". Very well-known for his use of Shown Their Work along with Twist Endings, usually regarding the identity or motivation of a particular character.
His latest books are The Cobra and The Kill List. In 2015 he published a memoir, The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue.
Works by Frederick Forsyth with their own trope pages include:
Other works by Frederick Forsyth provide examples of:
- Anonymous Ringer: In The Devil's Alternative, the female Prime Minister in power in 1979 is 'Joan Carpenter'.
- Arc Words: "Far away and long ago", for Avenger. Even the last line is that.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In Icon, a man is considered unsuitable to be in line for the Russian throne because he's too old, he has no children (which means no one can come after him), he screws around too much, including with his servants, he cheats at backgammon.
- As the Good Book Says...: In The Negotiator, the British Prime Minister tries to comfort the U.S. President with a relevant bible verse, after his kidnapped son has been killed: "2 Samuel 18:33" ("And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom! My son Absalom! Would God had I died for thee, O Absalom my son my son!").
- Batman Gambit: There is one in Avenger. The eponymous Avenger fakes a shootout when infiltrating a warlord's compound, having deduced that the warlord would bail out his compound right away instead of concentrating on finding the intruder.
- Bitter Almonds: Again in The Negotiator, the hero fashions a fake suicide vest, using marzipan in place of C4. The men he wants to intimidate are fooled by the characteristic almond-y smell - in reality, only Nobel's Explosive 808 had that sort of scent.
- Bittersweet Ending: The ending of Avenger. Secretly aided by his best friend from The Vietnam War, the eponymous Avenger lives, and manages to deliver a murderous war criminal to justice. However, the CIA also loses their best shot at Osama bin Laden, and the next day the September eleventh attack takes place.
- Black and White Morality: Thoroughly averted. Forsyth's books try to show the brutal reality the people who operate in the realms of politics, espionage and the military have to face with very little idealizing.
- Black and Grey Morality: What Forsyths books really are. Most of his main characters are unsavory, yet go up against much worse people.
- Chekhov's Armory: Avenger runs on this trope. Everyone Cal Dexter helped in the past will come back to help him in the present.
- Consummate Professional: Forsyth loves this trope with his most iconic characters, The Jackal, Cat Shannon, and Cal Dexter fitting this archetype to a "T".
- Dead All Along: In "The Shepherd", a young airplane pilot gets into trouble when his instruments fail, he gets lost in the English fog, and is low on fuel. When he thinks everything's lost, a Mosquito plane (World War II plane, already out of date in 1957 when the story is set) shepherds him to an old dispersal field, and he survives. There he finds hints that the man who saved him apparently was WW2 pilot Johnny Kavanagh (the other plane had "JK" written on it), who shepherded many planes during the war. But then he learns that Johnny actually died fourteen years ago.
- Diplomatic Impunity: In Fist of God, the main character is being sent into Baghdad during the first Gulf War to gather intelligence from an asset there. Because of the danger to him if he is caught by the AMAM (the Iraqi version of the KGB), he requests that he be attached to a diplomatic household to help protect him if he is caught.
- Disaster Dominoes: In "There Are Some Days...", the appropriately-named Murphy tries to hijack a truckload of brandy. Unfortunately, the gang grab the wrong truck and when he drives it off to abandon it, he crashes it. The police arrive, and the wrongly-stolen truck turns out to be full of smuggled weapons.
- Do Not Do This Cool Thing: In "Privilege", a journalist nearly bankrupts a businessman by publishing lies about him. The businessman, discouraged from legal recourse by the possibility of losing everything, assaults the journalist and uses his day in court to denounce the journalist. The magistrate sees through the businessman, but secretly sympathises.
- The End... Or Is It?: A student buys a deadly snake to kill his bullying boss in "There Are No Snakes In Ireland". It escapes and, at the story's conclusion......each as deadly at birth as its parent, she was bringing her dozen babies into the world.
- Foregone Conclusion: Forsyth uses this trope repeatedly in his books. The thrill comes from exploring what really happens behind the scene.
- Honey Trap: In "Money With Menaces", a clerk at an insurance company is blackmailed by this scheme. Unfortunately - for the blackmailers - he's a retired Demolitions Expert.
- Karmic Twist Ending: In "No Comebacks", a wealthy property developer hires a mercenary to kill the husband of the woman he loves."There will be no comebacks. I shot her, too."
- Laser-Guided Karma: As is the case with Chekhov's Armoury, every good thing Cal Dexter of Avenger did to other characters will come back handsomely in his favor later in the story.
- Money, Dear Boy: The Day Of The Jackal was written because of this. Forsyth was broke and completed it in 30 days. And it all went uphill from there.
- Out-of-Character Alert: Several characters in Forsyth books use this when communicating from behind enemy lines. One trick is to always include a line of very slightly misquoted poetry; if a poem's quote is correct, it means he is operating under duress.
- Secret Test of Character: Described in Icon:(General-of-Police Valentin) Petrovsky then ran a series of covert will-they-take-a-bribe tests on some of the senior investigators. Those who told the bribe offerers to get lost received promotions and big pay hikes.
- Self-Plagiarism: Forsyth fell prey to this in The Afghan, stealing several word for word passages from The Fist of God, and plot elements (such as one man telling the government that his brother can pass for an Arab, and then reminding the same people about it ten years later).
- Shown Their Work: Trope Maker. Forsyth's work is renowned for the research on the real world details he puts into the narratives of his book. As he noted, when writing The Day Of The Jackal, he wished to see if he could utilize the research skills he picked up as a journalist to help with the writing process.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Locked in on the cynical end. In a Forsyth novel, it's survival of the fittest, with those who don't have the necessary ruthlessness to outsmart their enemies usually ruined by the end of the book.
- Smart People Play Chess: Played with in The Negotiator; Quinn, the title character, is an intelligent character capable of strategic thinking, but admits he doesn't play chess very well. However, a KGB general gives Quinn a book on chess, advising him to study it and that it will help him to catch the Big Bad. It does.
- War for Fun and Profit: In The Negotiator, the villains attempt to restart the Cold War because their weapons contracts are being canceled because the USA doesn't need them anymore.
- Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell: The Negotiator has some American arms manufacturers rather upset that the end of the Cold War means their weapon to destroy Soviet tanks isn't going to be a big seller. Time to stir the pot.
- Xanatos Gambit: The terrorist plan in The Afghan. A seemingly straightforward attempt to use a fuel tanker to kill the G8 delegation is stopped — but the idea was to form a fuel-air mixture and detonate that when the ship bearing the G8 delegation passes by. Either way, the terrorists nearly manage to get their hit off.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Forsyth often has his characters doing this, and sometimes at the end (especially in The Devil's Alternative) they find out that they were being used in the Speed Chess of someone at a higher level than them.
- You Don't Want to Catch This: In The Fist Of God, a British soldier is undercover as a Kuwaiti hospital employee in downtown Kuwait during its occupation by Iraq in the Gulf War. He is stopped at a checkpoint, and gets away by whining that all of the samples in his trunk will escape into the air. He states that the samples are of cholera and smallpox.