The worst thing that can be said about a Robert Ludlum novel is that readers must pay close attention.
In The Scorpio Illusion western government leaders aren’t paying attention.
A secret group calling themselves Scorpios are plotting to throw the US, Britain and France into turmoil concurrently, precipitating a public outcry for stability that will catapult them to virtual dictatorship.
The Scorpios are positioned to make it happen. They have money, power, and the protection of the most sophisticated technology and most ruthless assassins that their money can buy.
Meanwhile, a beautiful terrorist intent on revenge for the deaths of her parents and her lover is planning to kill the US President. She and the Scorpios make common cause.
To stop her, the intelligence community calls on a former naval intelligence officer, Tyrell Hawthorne, whose wife was shot as a spy because of a mistake made by inept higher-ups. As he begins his work, Hawthorne runs into a beautiful woman who comforted him as he grieved; he vows not to lose her again.
Ludlum complies with the requirements of thrillers—sex, romance, blood, explosions—but his real interest is on how decent people can be hoodwinked because of the very traits that make them decent people.
The Bourne Ultimatum is Robert Ludlum’s spellbinding end to the contest between good and evil, represented respectively by a man called Jason Bourne and another called Carlos or “the Jackal.”
The only two men who know Jason Bourne’s true identity are summoned by telegram to witness a bizarre killing, which tells them David Webb’s cover is blown.
Unless Carlos is killed, Webb knows his family will never be safe. He decides to lure Carlos into a trap using Medusa, a Mafia-like operation that has grown out of a gang of killers that sprang up in the 1960s to terrorize the North Vietnamese.
Both men are past their prime. Each needs to mentally put himself in the other’s place, figure out what that man will do, and then find a way to thwart the plan with a minimum of physical effort. Webb senses Carlos wants his native Russia to view him as an organizational mastermind, not as just a thug, and uses that insight against him.
What makes this and the earlier “Bourne” novels fascinating is the complexity of his characters. The Bourne Ultimatum is a thriller you can read and reread.
Robert Ludlum’s The Icarus Agendais not escape reading.
Ludlum’s tale is a series of inter-connected, world-wide plots further connected by a journal typed into a computer by an unidentified man who records the events for his own mysterious purposes.
In book one of the novel, terrorists have already killed 11 hostages and threaten to kill the other 236 Americans they hold hostage in the US embassy in Masqat, Oman. They demand release of 8,000 terrorists belonging to organizations ranging from the IRA to the PLO.
Evan Kendrick, a newly-elected, “accidental” Colorado congressman, convinces the State Department’s covert operations director to let him try to raise the siege using connections he made—including connections to the Sultan of Oman—while doing construction work in the Middle East.
The man at DoS agrees only because Kendrick’s offer is predicated on his role never being known to any other person.
The hostage incident is over page by 221 of the novel. After that the Ludlum’s story gets complicated.
Although the novel is action packed, Ludlum’s characters are believably complex characters whose motivations are as complex as their personalities.
This 1988 bestselling political thriller requires—and deserves—readers’ full attention: The plot Kendrick uncovers is altogether too plausible to be dismissed in 2019.
The Aquitaine Progression, like Robert Ludlum’s other thrillers, is an incredibly complex multi-layered story that demands all a reader’s attention.
The main character is Joel Converse, an international lawyer and former Navy pilot. During the Vietnam War, Converse had been imprisoned by the North Vietnamese, escaping to freedom on his third attempt.
The novel’s action is too complicated to relate but the premise at the novel’s core is too believable to be forgotten.
A handful of highly placed military men—in the U.S., France, West Germany, England, Israel, and South Africa are planning to, in effect, take over Europe and Europe’s former colonies in the Americas.
Their plan is to take advantage of peaceful demonstrations to create chaos. The conspirators have trained men ready to attacking both the demonstrators and the demonstrator’s opponents without revealing their own identifies.
In the confusion, the conspirators will assassinate the leaders of the major democracies, expecting that lawlessness they’ve sparked will make people beg for strong military leaders to restore order: The military men have the trained troops and the munitions needed to do that.
Although Ludlum was writing in the ‘80s, it takes little imagination to see how the plot he imagines could play out today.
As he did in his previous bestseller, The Matarese Circle, in The Bourne Identity novelist Robert Ludlum tells a story that will keep readers turning pages long past their bedtime.
Bourne is the identity assumed by a man pulled from the Mediterranean “more corpse than man,” unable to remember anything about his past, including why he has a piece of microfilm with a Swiss bank account number implanted in his hip.
In Zurich, the amnesiac takes a woman hostage—every spy story requires the hero have a woman to complicate the plot—and together in Paris they begin to piece together Jason Bourne’s origins in Southeast Asia.
Ludlum is a master storyteller. Plot is his forte. Ludnum gives his characters just enough depth to be recognizable. They learn what’s necessary to advance the plot, but they don’t grow.
A day after closing The Bourne Identity, readers may wonder how Bourne, even before being shot in the head multiple times, could have been expected to remember everything he was required to remember to implement the machination of the West’s intelligence services.
Two days later, readers may even be unable to recall the names of the main characters.
But while they’re reading, they will be totally immersed in this complex, fast-paced thriller.
The Matlock Paper is a tense, carefully plotted thriller about Jim Matlock, a young English literature PhD recruited by the Department of Justice to go undercover to find Nimrod, the brains behind an organization running drugs, gambling, and prostitution and in nearly every university in New England.
The DOJ regards Matlock as “flawed but mobile” and susceptible: Matlock’s younger brother died from a heroin overdose and he holds himself responsible.
Organized crime has arranged a conference to negotiate an accommodation with Nimrod, whose extraordinary growth is taking a bite out of crime.
The same night after giving him a crash course in how to go undercover, Matlock’s DOJ contact is killed on the way to his car and someone takes a shot at Matlock.
All that happens in the first 38 pages.
Even though there are dozens of characters to watch, novelist Robert Ludlum makes his characters distinctive so that there’s no trouble remembering who’s who.
Aside from letting Matlock go more than two weeks without ever going to teach a class, Ludlum makes his inventive tale seem plausible.
You won’t gain and wisdom from The Matlock Paper, but you’ll be totally caught up on Matlock’s world for a few hours.