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The Shepherd ()

It's too bad Jimmy Stewart is gone, because this book is pretty much a cross between The Spirit of St. Louis and It's a Wonderful Life and he -- a pilot like Mr. Forsyth -- would have made a Christmas classic of it. On Christmas Eve 1957, a young RAF pilot takes off from Germany in his Vampire to fly home to Britain. But first his instrumentation fails on him, including the radio, and then he flies into increasing fog, making it awfully unlikely he'll avoid crashing into the North Sea, nevermind land safely. This prompts a dark night of the soul:
Ten minutes went by, nearly two complete triangles. I had not prayed, not really prayed, for many years, and the practice came hard. Lord, please get me out of this bloody mess... No, you mustn't talk like that to Him. "Our Father, which art in Heaven --" He'd heard that a thousand times, and would be hearing it another thousand times tonight. What do you say to Him when you want help? Please, God, make somebody notice me up here; please make someone see me flying in triangles, and send up a shepherd to help me down to a safe landing. Please help me, and I promise -- What on earth could I promise Him? He had no need of me, and I, who now had such need of Him, had taken no notice of Him for so long that He'd probably forgotten all about me.
Well, you pretty much know how the rest of it goes, but Mr. Forsyth handles it all quite deftly and the novella certainly belongs on your annual Christmas reading list.


Grade: (A)


See also:

Frederick Forsyth Links:

    -Frederick Forsyth (Wikipedia)
    -The Unofficial Frederick Forsyth Homepage
    -The Unofficial Frederick Forsyth Fansite
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Frederick Forsyth (
    -The New York Times > Movies > People > Frederick Forsyth
    -ESSAY: Terror powers expose 'tyranny' (Frederick Forsyth, 1/30/05, BBC)
    -ESSAY: Do the Tories want a tested fighter or a beaming boy? (Frederick Forsyth, Yorkshire Post)
    -SPEECH: Frederick Forsyth (Speaking at The War Memorial in Sedgefield, April 30th 2005)
    -VIDEO INTERVIEW: Frederick Forsyth (Jeremy Bradshaw, 21 March 2005, Chatshow)
    -INTERVIEW: Ready, Freddie, go: It's obvious, isn't it? It's all Tony Blair's fault that Frederick Forsyth has been chucked off the Today programme. And while he's on the subject... (Geraldine Bedell, May 12, 2002, The Observer)
    -INTERVIEW: Right, said Fred: He is one of Britain's best-loved novelists, with a string of classic spy thrillers to his name. So why is Frederick Forsyth sounding off about politics and hanging out with the shadow cabinet? (Libby Brooks, March 19, 2001, The Guardian)
    -INTERVIEW: Frederick Forsyth Brings Back the Phantom (Larry King Live Weekend, April 15, 2000)
    -ARTICLE: Forsyth thunders at BBC for muzzling his anti-Blair views (Vanessa Thorpe, April 21, 2002, The Observer)
    -ARTICLE: I axed Forsyth on orders from above, says former Today editor (Elizabeth Day, 02/02/2003, Daily Telegraph)
    -ARTICLE: Liddle 'ordered to sack Forsyth' (Jamie Wilson, February 3, 2003, The Guardian)
    -ARTICLE: Forsyth dropped 'far-fetched' plot (BBC, 9/16/01)
    -ARTICLE: Spy writer backs plane group (BBC, 1/03/03)
    -ARCHIVES: "frederick forsyth" (BBC)
    -ARCHIVES: "Frederick Forsyth" (Find Articles)
    -REVIEW: of The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth (HP, Mystery Guide)
    -REVIEW: of The Odessa File by Frederick Forsyth (HP, Mystery Guide)
    -REVIEW: of
-REVIEW: of The Fourth Protocol by Frederick Forsyth (Michiko Kakutani, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Devil's Alternative by Frederick Forsyth (Alexander Cockburn, NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of The Negfotiator by Frederick Forsyth (Richard Condon, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Avenger (Joe Hartlaub, Bookreporter)
    -REVIEW: of The Avenger (Chris Petit, The Guardian )
    -REVIEW: of The Fist of God by Frederick Foirsyth (Michael Rust, Insight on the News)
    -REVIEW: of The Fist of God by Frederick Forsyth (Newgate Callendar, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of THE PHANTOM OF MANHATTAN By Frederick Forsyth (Robin Vidimos, The Denver Post)
    -REVIEW: of The Veteran by Frederick Forsyth (DJ Taylor, The Spectator)
    -REVIEW: of The Veteran by Frederick Forsyth (Dominic Casciani, BBC)
    -REVIEW: of The Veteran (Matthew Lewin, Weston Mercury)
    -REVIEW: of The Veteran (Kuldip Dhiman, India Tribune)

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