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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Forsyth in Moscow to Write New Thriller

British novelist Frederick Forsyth, author of the bestselling thrillers "Day of the Jackal," "The Odessa File," "The Dogs of War" and "The Fourth Protocol," has spent the last week in Moscow researching his ninth book.

The latest blockbuster, with the working title of "Icon," will be set in Moscow in the summer of 1999. The plot, somewhat eerily, revolves around the sudden death by heart attack of the president and the ensuing power struggle between political factions and the armed forces.

"It will be more of a political thriller than a Cold War/KGB-type novel," said Forsyth, speaking from the National Hotel on Wednesday. "I have been interviewing all sorts of people, both officially and unofficially, and will be trying to predict what will go right and what will go wrong in this country over the next three years."

In "Icon," Forsyth revisits a form he first experimented with in 1978. "The Devil's Alternative," also set in an imaginary Moscow three years after the novel was written, contained predictions which proved uncannily accurate.

"In 'Devil's Alternative' I predicted that there would be a woman prime minister in Britain, the fall of the Shah, and the war in Afghanistan," said Forsyth. "In 'Icon,' the Russian president dies of a heart attack and the whole world holds its breath for three months.

"I suspect that that particular prediction may be preempted," he added in an unspoken reference to President Boris Yeltsin's recent heart trouble.

Other forecasts include a Moscow dominated by mafia moguls and private armies. "There is a kind of Wild West capitalism here which may follow the American pattern or not. Remember that all the Kennedys and the Vanderbilts were once giants of the underworld."

Forsyth is in Moscow for the first time since 1978, when he came to research "The Devil's Alternative."

"The changes are unbelievable; the place is like an anthill. Scaffolding, cranes and money everywhere," he said. "I have facts coming out of my ears. My case is full of maps, guidebooks and notes, which all have to be collated and checked upon. If there are any holes, I'll have to come back."

Forsyth, whose publisher is the British firm Bantam, hopes to write up the novel this winter, with a tentative publication date set for October 1996. Two of his previous novels are about espionage; the others cover terrorism, mercenaries, and assassins. Most have been translated into Russian.

"I have been asked to sign several Russian copies of 'Jackal' and 'Dogs of War.' It seems that the Russians are moving through the list, so 'Icon' will probably be translated as well," he said.

Forsyth shrugs off comparisons with John le Carr?, who returned to his old stomping grounds last year with "Our Game," a revisiting of the Cold War landscapes that were his forte.

"I didn't actually read 'Our Game,' but I suppose le Carr? is going back to what he knows best," said Forsyth. "I try to vary my themes."