Blueprinted from a page torn out of his The Chancellor Manuscript (1977), Ludlum's latest multi-pounder recycles that...



Blueprinted from a page torn out of his The Chancellor Manuscript (1977), Ludlum's latest multi-pounder recycles that novel's silly ""Inver Brass"" (IB)--a well-intentioned cabal that puppeteers US destiny--as it manipulates a noble legislator towards the Oval Office. Thankfully, IB only peeks around the corner in this bruiser's first third. Those initial 218 pages (""Book I""), trumpeting the heroics of altruistic millionaire Congressman Even Kendrick as he rescues 247 Yanks held hostage at the American embassy in the sheikdom of Oman, are a treat: a virtually stand-alone mini-thriller that's equal to the author's sleekest writing in years. From Kendrick's blustering into the State Dept. to offer help in the crisis to his bluffing his way, drenched in skin-darkening lotion, into the embassy (where he's tortured by Muslim fanatics) to his uncovering and slaying of ""The Mahdi"" (the madman behind the takeover), this is gripping action allegro non troppo--but, sadly, just prelude to a lumbering return to more familiar Ludlum-land of twisted plots and stunted characters (""Book II""). At the heart of this blasted terrain is IB, which, planning to whittle Kendrick into Presidential timber, begins to pull strings (media exposure, plum appointments) behind his back to make him a national hero. But IB harbors a traitor more interested in profit than patriotism, and soon hordes of homicidal Arabs are gunning for Kendrick. As dealings and stealings and shootings and lootings start to fly as thick as Ludlum's favored exclamation points and italics, Kendrick, new lover Khalehla (a sexy State Dept. spy), old pal Manny Weingrass (ex-Mossader, and dirty old man), Varak, nice-guy US Pres. Langford Jennings (read Ronald Reagan), and assorted villains flail about trying to survive the quicksand of Ludlum's plotting along enough to find out: Will IB's plan--the Icarus Agenda--turn Kendrick permanently from knight into pawn? A 500,000-copy first printing greets this sure-fire best-seller, but fails to alter the bald fact: this shopping-mall thriller is too big by two-thirds. Enter at your own risk--and keep a sharp eye for exits.

Pub Date: March 15, 1988

ISBN: 0553278002

Page Count: -

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1988