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.
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.
Patriot Games is a thriller about good guys trying to stop terrorists before they can do bad things.
Jack Ryan, an ex-Marine and naval history professor at Annapolis Military Academy runs afoul of an ultra-nasty IRA splinter group while on vacation in London with his ophthalmologist-surgeon wife and four-year-old daughter.
When the disaffected IRA members stage a terrorist attack on the Prince and Princess of Wales right in front of him, Ryan responds saving their lives and making a deadly enemy.
With the British on high alert after the attack, the terrorists decide to strike in America, where Irish terrorists have never struck.
A planned visit by the royal couple to America and to their new friends, the Ryan family, offer the terrorists an ideal target.
A terrible thunderstorm just as the terrorists’ strike adds to the drama.
What makes the Patriot Games unusual is that author Tom Clancy focuses heavily on the different psychological characteristics of the good guys—U.S. military, the CIA, FBI, police, and their British counterparts—and the bad guys.
There’s nothing particularly startling about Clancy’s observations, but the personal angle makes a pleasant change from descriptions of weapon systems and intelligence analysis procedures.
Mary Roberts Rinehart opens Dangerous Days with a boring dinner party hosted by an American steel manufacturer and his wife.
The year is 1916.
Europe is on the verge of destruction.
Natalie and Clayton Spencer are on the edge of domestic destruction.
Clay has brought son, Graham, into his steel business at the bottom, much to Natalie’s dismay. She wants her boy to have the best even if it destroys him.
Clay wants a woman’s love but not at the price of his moral destruction.
Clay is sure America will be in the war soon.
Graham and his father realize — though they don’t say it to each other — that Graham may escape moral destruction only by volunteering to die.
Rinehart follows the bored people around the opening chapter dinner table through to Armistice Day, revealing them to be anything but boring. She masterfully combines deft characterizations, historical episodes such as the communists’ helping American draft-dodgers escape into Mexico, and intricate plots within her main plot.
There’s a certain flag-waving bravado about the novel — all the characters but Natalie do their bit in the war — but the complexity of the characters and the realness of their confusions make this page-turner a novel you won’t soon forget.