Third postmortal novel from the archives of the amazing Ludlum (1927–2001), who clearly took his Toshiba laptop along to that Orient Express in the sky.
This latest shows a far more sober Ludlum than 2001’s madhouse The Sigma Protocol, while even The Paris Option (2002), with coauthor Gayle Lynds, points to a cooling paranoia and twilight lust for description. Here, we get a marvel of stunning physical detail, its sentences geared with lightly oiled precision parts that speed the action forward microincrementally, click by click. A full chapter is given to the midnight air currents a parachutist faces in cloud and fog after he free-falls for four miles into the villain’s den. Legendary Hungarian financier and philanthropist Peter Novak, Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder and director of the Liberty Foundation, which has resolved ten international conflicts around the globe, has been kidnapped by the Kagama Liberation Front on the island of Anura in the Indian Ocean. The KLF plans to behead him on the Sunni holy day commemorating the sacrifice of Abraham. And no ransom will be accepted, since the Caliph masterminding the KLF’s corps of suicide bombers wants greater notoriety. Ludlum died before 9/11, but his plot is hugely prescient, combining Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, and Palestinian martyrs. Liberty Foundation calls in Paul Janson, former Navy SEAL and master nightfighter for Consular Operations (the State Department’s covert branch), who has retired to run his own business. But Liberty Foundation once saved Janson’s life, while a suicide bomber of Caliph’s killed Janson’s pregnant wife. So Janson gathers a trio of supremely capable covert-ops like himself to infiltrate Caliph’s impregnable Stone Palace and rescue Novak. When the mission goes down in horror, sabotaged, Janson vows vengeance, not knowing that he himself is the one who must be destroyed—and by his home team, among others.
Ludlum’s best since his masterpiece of paranoia, The Bourne Identity.