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Frederick Forsythe is the author of several bestselling novels including "The Day of the Jackal", "The Odessa File ", The Dogs of War, "The Devil's Alternative" and "The Fourth Protocol". He has a unique style of writing where he keeps the readers totally glued to the book with his edge-of-the seat suspense and a brilliant narrative full of suspense, unexpected twists and intrigue...
I have read most of the fictions written by Frederick Forsythe and in my personal opinion he is one of the best writers in that category of political thrillers ...
No comebacks is a collection of short stories written by Frederick Forsythe . I feel that it is more difficult to write short stories especially the suspenseful and intriguing ones that Forsythe writes. One has to have a firm grip on the story line being able to effectively finish it within a certain number of pages without compromising on the quality of the content.
I have never been too keen on reading short stories and perhaps that's why the book had been lying with me for a long time before I started reading it last week and I am glad I did.
I definitely liked what I read and here I am now writing and sharing my views about the book and the stories.
There are 10 short stories in the book .I am giving a brief synopsis of all of them...Just a couple of sentences each, thats all !
== No Comebacks ==
I am sure this was the authors favorite story and that's why he named the book after this...
Mark Sanderson a super rich playboy finally meets the woman of his dreams Mrs Angela Summers .The only hitch was that she was married and could never think of divorcing her husband. So Mark decides to get rid of her husband by hiring a paid killer without her knowledge ....
The story has a very interesting ending, quite unexpected..
== There are no snakes in Ireland ==
Harikishan Ram lal, a poor Indian medical student studying at Royal Victoria looking for work during summer vacation to earn some extra money so that he could finish his studies and return to his home town in Punjab to start a clinic there to serve the poor and needy.
He takes up work with a demolition firm and is constantly harrassed by the foreman Big Billie Cameron. It gets to a point where Harikishen decides to take revenge on the foreman in his own way...
I liked this story a lot because it was different ...
== The Emperor ==
Mr and Mrs Murgatroyd are on a weeks holiday at Mauritius entirely paid by the bank worked for . Unfortunately , things seemed more or less the same with his wife Edna grumbling about every little thing and being annoying . But the holiday proves to be a turning point in both their lives..
I must confess that I did not like this story much because it is too detailed and boring in parts. this is probably the longest story in the book.
== There Are Some Days ==
Liam Clarke a driver working for Tara transportation company located in Dublin is bringing back deficient fertilizer back to the office in one of their trucks that had just come off St Kilian.Liam is tired and looking forward to being with his family for supper .But there are some days when every thing starts going wrong..
This was a short and nice story, not brilliant but interesting and humorous..
== Money with menace ==
Samuel Nutkin ,with an army background, now a respectable friendly harmless banker looking for some excitement and release from his boring routine gets more than what he had bargained for...
This , again is a short and nice story .Like the previous one not brilliant but quite interesting and humorous.
== Used in evidence ==
Big Billy Hanley had been a Police man for twenty seven years and liked his job. He had been assigned the job of evicting an old man from his little home right next to a car park.In spite of many notices being sent and the demolition squad warning him to leave the house , the silent old man stubbornly stayed on in the little house. As the process of demolition begins under the guidance of Billy Hanley out come some well hidden secrets.
Good story ! interesting and quite suspenseful. I liked this story too...
== Privilege ==
This is another one of my favorites. It is about libel and how it can ruin a person , in spite of being innocent.Henry Chadwick is the man at the receiving end from ' The Sunday Courier ' .
Good story ! I like stories connected with law and legal system.It makes for interesting reading like this one.
== Duty ==
This is supposed to be a story told by an Irish friend to the author and the friend swore that it was absolutely true...
An English couple are driving through the lovely French countryside when their car breaks down. They are forced to spend a couple of days in a country house in the village .The house seemed comfortable but it had a strange atmosphere.
This was not a very impressive narrative and not one of my favorites..
== A careful Man ==
Timothy Hanson had just been told by his Physcian friend that he had only six months to live. Hanson is extremely wealthy and has no family of his own except a greedy sister with an even greedier family who would inherit all his wealth.Being a very careful man he begins to make careful preparations for his death .
This in my opinion was The best among the collection of stories from this book. It is a very well thought out interesting subject ..
== Sharp practice ==
Judge Comyn, proud of his theory that a good legal mind with his trained observation , practiced powers of deduction and keen memory could always play a good game of cards. He is travelling first class from Kingsbridge station to County Kerry in Ireland. He has two passengers travelling with him. A small wispy man with a pair of sad eyes and a priest. To kill time ,they begin to play poker ....
This too is one of the best stories in this collection.Very interesting and very humorous ...
Except for one or two mediocre ones the collection of stories is really worth reading.I would read it again after sometime ..
When I am offered a book by a friend to borrow I am filled with a sense of impending doom. Firstly, I feel under great pressure to get the book finished so that it can be returned - who wants to be the person who holds onto a book for a year? Secondly, the book may be rubbish - now I have to pretend to them that I liked it. The one major benefit of borrowing a book that a person loved is that it gives you a small peak into their psyche; what about this book was so appealing to them? When I was lent a book by Frederick Forsyth called 'No Comebacks' I was given a clear picture into the mind of one man. It seems to me that the trend throughout these stories was about under the thumb men getting revenge! What an insight!
Frederick Forsyth is a thriller writer who peaked in the 70s with novels such as 'Day of the Jackal'. Never the most prolific of writers his work comes out piecemeal, therefore a collection of short stories was published in 1982 to try and appease fans between full novels. Within is a collection of mini thrillers that range from a man hiring an assassin, a gruesome discovery in a wall, to a fishing trip. The themes of espionage and thrills are only beaten by the uneasy feeling that Forsyth has a thing about strong women...
When creating a collection of short stories the book is often named after the best vignette which is usually the first one. I assume this was meant to be the case with 'No Comebacks' as the first story is named just this. However, is it the strongest of the collection? Certainly not, as I felt it was far too obvious exactly what was going to happen. An arrogant rich man finally falls in love with a woman because she refuses to leave her weak husband for him. He sets out a devious plan to kill the husband without the lady knowing so that she runs to his arms. It is in this first story that the twin themes of the book are at their most obvious. Forsyth is a great writer of spy fiction and thrillers, similar to the style of Jack Higgins. The elements that touch on that here are good, but it's clear that the writing is simple and easy enough to follow. However, there is also a chauvinistic element that is quite dominant as the main character is an unpleasant misogynist.
The theme of the stories increasingly moves towards weak men fighting back as the book progresses. One guilty pleasure of a story sees a hen pecked man going on holiday with his wife only to discover freedom through the power of deep sea fishing. Throw in another story about a man who murdered his wife after she cheated and I was starting to get a little worried! Does Forsyth have some latent issues, or is he a wily writer gearing his books towards the men that read them? Remember these were stories written during the 70s in an era were more equal rights were still a long way off and comedians such as Manning were very popular. TBH I did enjoy the stories that had a misogynist edge, but I was able to see them for what they were and not take them too seriously. In many of the stories Forsyth has a valid point; it's just that he writes them so bluntly.
The other stories in the collection are a mixed bag. Not one of them is awful and it is soon clear that only 'No Comebacks' itself has a twist that anyone could guess. This is a collection of stories that has dated pretty badly, but the light nature of them allows Forsyth to get away with it. The only impactful story is one that the writer himself argues does not fit in with the themes of the others. Supposedly a true tale it is about an Irishman's visit to France and his discovery of a man who in a previous time committed great crimes. This story is supposed to have a resonance, but I felt that perhaps it was not suited to this particular collection of stories. You cannot have a series of silly thriller followed by dark politics.
Overall, I was happily surprised to read 'No Comebacks' as it contained many fun stories. Personally, I think the old fashioned attitudes added to the charm that the stories created and give them an almost period feel (although they were supposed to be modern for their time). I could not recommend that people go out of their way to find a copy of this book, but if you are looking for something completely different to life in 2009, then perhaps this has the thrills for you?
Author: Frederick Forsyth
Price: amazon uk - £5.99
play.com - £5.99