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A disappointing testament to the power of branding.

Since Ludlum's death in 2001, his name has appeared possessively on a number of novels, his spirit presumably having inspired authors to work in his distinctive idiom. There's nothing new in this—Robert Parker's characters carry on, as do Sherlock Holmes and James Bond, and it can be gratifying to meet an old literary friend artfully reborn. This example of the Ludlum franchise introduces a new warrior, Adam Hayes, who is a graduate of a new source of agents, Treadstone, a secret CIA program that turns out agents with incredible capabilities and undetectable scruples. Hayes, whose post-traumatic behaviors have imperiled his family, has tried to quit Treadstone, but circumstances compel him to revert to full battle readiness to survive. A conspiracy of rogue CIA agents, corrupt Venezuelan military officials, and a U.S. senator has targeted Hayes because he has received evidence of their malfeasance, but Treadstone itself is in the process of being shut down, and Hayes has limited access to the material support it once provided. Success against the arrayed resources of the CIA seems unlikely, but Hayes is up to the challenge. As the plot moves from violent confrontation to violent confrontation through a catalog of modern weaponry, from conventional sidearms to a seriously presented Hellfire missile strike (on U.S. soil, against U.S. citizens!), the technical designations and capabilities of the weapons are precisely presented and sometimes seem more important than the characters wielding them. And in fact Hayes himself is a weapon: He sheds his humanity so readily that it is difficult to fully accept it. Ludlum was never so one-dimensional.

Aggregated violence without much else.

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-525-54255-1
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2019