Frederick Forsyth's new novel "Der Fuchs"

The new novel by successful author Frederick Forsyth has appeared: "The Fox" is about a juvenile hacker

British author Frederick Forsyth is 81 years old.

British author Frederick Forsyth is 81 years old.

Photo: picture alliance / Photoshot

The jackal was on the shelf, in my parents' living room. The books were all linen volumes. However, the lexicon was only two-volume (A-K and L-Z) – manageable as the world, then in the seventies. Next to the jackal by Frederik Forsyth stood the "German lesson" by Siegfried Lenz. Most books came through the membership in the book club Bertelsmann into the house. Frederik Forsyth's new and – as he once again asserted – last novel just appeared in German: with C. Bertelsmann: "Der Fuchs".

Of course, Forsyth delivers again a political thriller. If the jackal was still a hunted contract killer in France, the fox is a youthful hacker from England who suffers from Asperger-Sydrom: almost a victim who is used but also protected by the West, because the hacker is also hunted – yes, from the Russians. After all, it's about the control of enemy weapons systems. Right at the beginning, a British task force boarded the family house of his unsuspecting family in a peaceful suburb of the provincial town of Luton. "Nobody saw her. Nobody heard her. The black-clad Special Forces soldiers slipped unnoticed through the pitch-black night on the target object.

Forsyth does not care so much about psychological depth

In this style and pace, it continues: "The third ring came on the bedside lamp. The sleeper was now wide-awake and fit for action – the result of a lifetime of training. "Forsyth does not keep up with psychological character studies for long. Not least, this corresponds to his personal writing speed. After extensive research, he sorts his material at home, then typing the text into his typewriter within a few weeks. Computer rejects the now 81-year-old while writing still off.

This, of course, astonishes when he now reports on NSA military data stores and secretly invades them like an 18-year-old. And it seems to have fallen out of time when Forsyth explains in the book the meaning of Trojans or malware, as if the modern reader did not know more about the firewall of his PC, than about ancient typewriters.

But of course you can not read Forsyth like that. When he recalls 9/11 in the new novel, American Airlines flight number 77 is "boring" into the Pentagon. " And in New York, the South Tower collapsed into a "mountain of red-hot rubble". Given. If you are looking for clean prose, you will hardly resort to a spy thriller. Frederick Forsyth himself considers the Bond novels by Ian Fleming to be a great fiction. And he has never made a secret of what he thinks about the claims of the literary enterprise: "This nonsense about literature annoys. I do not need writing, it's actually a very lonely and hard job. "No question: The man wanted to earn his living by writing money.

The clearly divided world of the Cold War

And he has too. Already his first book stood for 23 weeks in first place of the Spiegel bestseller list. Of course these were different times. When Forsyth's Jackal plans his assassination on French President Charles de Gaulle in 1971, Willy Brandt is Chancellor and the RAF kills a policeman in the FRG, her first casualty. A year later then the attack of terrorists on the Olympic village in Munich. Especially for the 1972 Olympics my parents bought a color TV. Then these pictures. Nevertheless, the Iron Curtain divided the world still good in good and evil, and the jackal guaranteed exciting entertainment in the domestic bookshelf right next to the demanding "German lesson". A thriller, Forsyth said in an interview, was about "showing a bank employee or insurance broker for a few hours an unknown, violent world that is miles apart from his boring existence."

But does that still work today? Anyway, in the political worldview of Frederick Forsyth is still clear who the good guys and who are the bad guys. Sure, even the British MI6 has to trick. After all, it is important to save the world. In the game of the secret services there are victims on both sides Also the Russian opponents are wise strategists, but serve a "cold-eyed, small, former secret police officer with a preference for homoerotic photos of himself, on which he with bare chest and a rifle in the hands rode through Siberia. "

Edward Snowden is considered a "traitor"

Since Frederick Forsysth as in the jackal and the Fox again and again on real characters and incidents recurs (such as the poison attack on the double agent Sergei Skripal), he settled his novel deliberately in the real world. If he simply refers to Edward Snowden as a "traitor", one may understand this as a political view of the author.

You may also skip that. In the world of espionage thrillers, Frederick Forsyth is almost the counterpart to his always moral compatriot John le Carré, about whose upright characters one can also fall asleep wonderful. Forsyth keeps awake. The man is a craftsman before the gentleman – on his typewriter. You have to leave that to him: even his last novel is a true page gymnast. Incidentally, John le Carré's "The Spy Who Came Out of the Cold" also found its place on my parents' teak shelf, right next to "And Jimmy went to the rainbow" by J. M. Simmel.

Frederick Forsyth, The Fox. C. Bertelsmann, 320 pages, 20 euros.