Rising from the dead, Ludlum’s fourth postmortal burlesque in the Covert-One biotech series (lotsa germs!), with US President Castilla’s ultrasecret personal agency’s virologist, Lt. Colonel Jon Smith, M.D., lately retired from the Army Medical Research Unit for Infectious Diseases.
Lynds’s fleshing out of Robert Ludlum’s The Paris Option (2002), like her first venture in this original trade paperback series, was far smoother and less hysterical than old Bob. Hosts of readers, however, preferred by far Ludlum’s manic hand to Lady Gayle’s pressed prose and silken twilights over the arrondissements. But only Bob can kill nine people on the Bahnhofsträsse in a thriller’s opening three pages, then leapfrog continent to continent leaving blood-splotched prints. So, germicidally, what’s up? The Iraqis want to buy some bioweapons from China! Now who could believe that? On a dark Shanghai dock we watch barrels secretly loaded onto the freighter The Dowager Empress while a spy taking pictures gets offed. Covert-One informs the president that the ship carries tons of thiodiglycol and thionyl chloride, used in both blister and nerve weapons. But hasn’t China signed a prohibition against chemical weapons? That ship cannot unload at Basra! Call biomolecular agent Smith in Taiwan! Smith must get Empress’s manifest for payment in Baghdad to the president. Last place the Navy can board that freighter is the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf in five days. And—my God—the Chinese have held David Thayer, the president’s real father, prisoner since 1949! Wow. Can we get him out? Can Smith steal the true Empress manifest in Shanghai and outwit security chief Feng Dun, that vicious sorcerer? What will happen when Jon Smith meets by night with agent Adrian Mondragon on the outskirts of Taiwan to receive the manifest? And what is the Altman Code? Can it have anything to do with top-level leaks at the White House?
Brand-Name Bob’s Back!!! Battle stations! Battle stations!