The Chancellor Manuscript

Title:                  The Chancellor Manuscript

Author:                 Robert Ludlum

Ludlum, Robert (1977). The Chancellor Manuscript. New York: Dial Press

LCCN:    76057768

PZ4.L9455 Ch

Date Updated:  June 17, 2015

Ludlum’s book is by an author about an author, a particularly successful author, Peter Chancellor. Chancellor becomes a successful novelist after his thesis is rejected by the supervisory committee. His novels, though works of fiction, portray the happening of certain events that may not have happened the way the people believe they did.

A group of highly intellectual people known as “Inver Brass”, see a threat to the United States when they discover that John Edgar Hoover, the director of FBI is using scandal-ridden private files as leverage. Hoover has compiled 1000 dossiers on the most influential people in the USA. The group decides to get rid of Hoover and recover the files.

To carry out their plan the Inver Brass hire Varak,  a professional working with NSA. Hoover is eliminated, however, not all the dossiers are recovered, since someone else got to them first. The question is who has the dossiers that could have a devastating effect on the country’s future. The group sets out to find who has Hoover’s files.

One does not approach Washington’s elite with indelicate questions. The group decide to use Chancellor for their purposes, since his profession of a novelist provides him with a natural cover. Chancellor, on the other hand, is not the novelist he once was. After suffering a terrible accident and losing his fiancé, he is leading a broken life. But when Varak, posing as a FBI agent, approaches Chancellor and hints the possibility that Hoover (who is thought to have died from a heart attack) may have been assassinated, the writer inside Peter awakens from a state of dormancy. Varak also feeds him with the information that the “scandal ridden dossiers” collected by Hoover are missing.

Peter decides to write a book on the last year of Hoover’s life. For this he needs hard facts and to get them he has to delve into the existence of the scandal- ridden dossiers. The plot thickens when a number of people are blackmailed with the information contained in their dossiers compiled by Hoover. By doing so, the blackmailer (who is a voice on the telephone, and reveals he has the dossiers) gains undue advantage, specifically on the political scene in Washington. As a case in point, a journalist questioning the ways by which funds are being raised for the elections, is asked to give away the investigation. If not, certain facts about her will be publicized, ending her career as a journalist.

Peter starts writing his book. His investigation into the existence of the dossiers leads to him to unearth two secrets. First is the mystery behind the massacre of Chasong which took place during the Korean War, and the second is the true identity of the blackmailer. These revelations not only endanger his life but also the lives of the people he cares for.

All Ludlum’s books are excellent mystery/thriller books, and this one especially so. I have enjoyed The Scarlatti Inheritance, The Osterman Weekend, The Rhinemann Exchange, and The Gemini Contenders just as much as this, The Chancellor Manuscript.

The Double Agents

Title:                  The Double Agents

Author:                 W. E. B.Griffith

Griffith, W. E. B. (2007) with Butterworth, William E. IV. The Double Agents .New York: G.P. Putnam’s and Sons

LCCN:    2007011993

PS3557.R489137 D68 2007


Date Updated:  June 18, 2015

In April 1943, Spanish sympathizers discover the body of Major William Martin of the British Royal Marines in waters off the coast of Spain. The remains contain a parcel of letters, both personal and top secret. Unknown to the Spaniards who find the body is its bizarre history prior to the man’s demise. Certifying that the Major carried important papers to the German and Italian war effort, the information is passed to those directly involved. Certain that Allied forces plan a massive attack on Sicilian and Italian shores, Hitler’s generals concentrate troop strength on the Italian front.

W. E. B. Griffin co-authors with his son, William E. Butterworth IV, a sixth Men at War novel, titled The Double Agents. Midway through World War II, the British and American OSS (Office of Strategic Services) devise the elaborate ruse to confuse German planners. Prior to the body’s discovery near Huelva, OSS Major Richard “Dick” Canidy, working out of Algiers, carries out a daring attack on a German supply boat disguised as a fishing vessel. Canidy is the OSS hero from the previous Men at War books. He’s good-looking, the picture of an American playboy type, but hard as rock when called upon by the President for his top-secret mission.

An Italian scientist named Dr. Rossi has proof that the Germans have infected prisoners with Yellow fever. In addition, Canidy has blown up the boat that contains Tuban, a dangerous nerve gas slated for use against the Allies. From Algiers, his mission is to determine if the gas has sunk or burned in the fire. If burned, the gas can cause savage injury and many deaths.

Canidy’s interaction with those under his command in the mission is a fun read. One minute he’s the no-nonsense commander, the next he’s concerned for their safety. Canidy manages a sense of humor underneath the serious planning, plotting and commission of his orders. He works closely with an Italian Mafia native Sicilian to gain access to the Island. Lucky Luciano, from an American prison, has linked the OSS with Frank Nola, the local Mafioso. His contacts on Palermo help Canidy’s plan, but Dick is acutely aware that Nola’s motives may endanger the entire effort. Tubes, a young California surfer, operates the radio equipment necessary to their success and survival.

Meanwhile, Griffin and his son develop numerous chapters about the dead Major Martin’s identity. Based on the fact that David Niven, Peter Ustinov and Ian Fleming served as officers in the British military services, the authors write a hilarious scenario whereby these famous men, along with OSS Lt. Charity Hoche and others, craft a cadaver’s identity. The Hollywood personalities, complete with alcoholic tendencies, round out a voluminous cast of characters in The Double Agents.

The story is based on a true event – the dead body’s discovery by the enemy. While the majority of Allied troops fought in the deserts of Africa, a covert operation is carried out in Sicily. The history presented in The Double Agents is a reminder that war is horrific theater. Without dedicated agents such as the fictional OSS characters depicted on its pages, novels like this one would merely entertain.

The Saboteurs

Title:                  The Saboteurs

Author:                 W. E. B. Griffin

Griffin, W. E. B. (2006) and William E. Butterworth, IV. The Saboteurs. New York: Jove Books

LCCN:    2006043222

PS3557.R489137 S23 2006


Date Updated:  June 18, 2015

The Saboteurs is a compelling story based on real tales from World War II and is dedicated to tthe memories of those who fought there, especially the Marines. W.E.B. Griffin and his son, William E. Butterworth IV, have collaborated on a fast-paced novel about the heroes of World War II, a return to the popular Men at War series. “Wild Bill” Donovan is the head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and has the job of networking his agents to the best of their abilities. The action moves around the world, in chronological order of events, from Sicily, London, New Jersey, Texas, Oklahoma, New York and Algiers. Major Richard M. Canidy is the first agent Donovan has to reign in from overzealous proceedings in his recent past. Canidy went solo on a mission to Hungary and now must face the consequences for his rogue actions.

Timing is important in February 1943. German U-boats have sneaked into Atlantic waters, wrecking havoc close to American shores. Highly trained, Hitler’s SS units have been successful in landing agents in the United States to detonate bombs in areas of high civilian concentration. These enemy saboteurs will make their presence known and instill fear in the public. Canidy, his boyhood friend Eric Fulmar, and agent Stan Fine have been called in by Donovan to locate and eliminate the suspected saboteurs. Canidy’s summons, however, carries the undertone of rebuke for his Hungarian escapade. Canidy fully expects to be assigned a desk or, worse, to be fired. But Donovan has a different agenda for his rogue agent.

The authors profile real personalities of the times, alongside their fictional agents, to bring the reader directly into the story. The well-documented rivalry between FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and the OSS office is on display in The Saboteurs. Hoover soft-pedals the explosions on American soil to contain terror in the public. Hoover’s harassment of citizens with possible anti-government sympathies is played against the tactics of the OSS, a direct-action approach. An FBI agent suffers embarrassment by Fulmar’s superior physical ability in one comical scene.

Canidy’s assignment is to invade German-occupied Sicily and to evacuate a scientist, Dr. Rossi, whose life is in danger. The doctor’s colleagues have been infected and murdered with a deadly Yellow Fever virus. Before Rossi is deposed likewise, his brilliant mind can be used against the Germans; he has knowledge about developments in atomic fission.

Canidy finds himself aboard a vessel owned and navigated by mobsters from New Jersey, fishmongers who conceal illegal activity by legitimate business on the Atlantic loading docks. These Mafia personalities are well-developed characters and do elicit sympathy during the read. The mob’s heyday is colorfully drawn, with historical accuracies about well-known, incarcerated mobster leaders. Canidy is at their mercy in order to land successfully on Sicilian shores.


The Fighting Agents

Title:                  The Fighting Agents

Author:                 W. E. B. Griffin

LCCN:    99051764

PS3557.R489137 F54 2000


Date Updated:  June 19, 2015

The Fighting Agents takes place in The Philippines, 1943. As the ragged remnants of the American forces stand against the might of the Imperial Japanese Army, a determined cadre of OSS agents becomes their only contact with the outside world-and their only hope for survival.

General Douglas McArthur declared after the fall of the Philippines in 1943 that there were no guerrillas in the Philippines. However, Wendell Fertig, a U.S. Army officer who refused to leave, knew better. Fertig promoted himself to general and led a guerrilla force against the Japanese. This time, however, Griffin focuses his attention on the OSS, which, among other things, was tasked with resupplying Fertig and bestselling reinforcing his efforts to undermine the Japanese war machine. This fourth volume of the Men at War series features the American intelligence service during World War II. James Whittaker, a rakish, romantic army air corps captain, who happens to be a close family friend of OSS chief Wild Bill Donovan, is assigned to sneak into the Philippines by submarine and bring gold, arms, and war materiel to the renegade general.

Simultaneously, another OSS team tries to carry out a critical mission: getting a German atomic scientist out of Budapest and into allied hands before Hitler’s armies can perfect and unleash the weapon that could win the war for the Axis powers. And in Cairo, a quiet, unassuming pilot named Darmstadter is drafted by the OSS for another highly unlikely mission. Griffin spices up his realistically drawn scenes of military operations, weapons, and training with a somewhat improbable love story focusing on Whittaker and a female OSS operative, but one suspects it’s merely a ruse to draw in women readers. Still, the action ranges from Washington to California, Egypt to London, and all points in between, and Griffin’s knowledge of military hearts, minds, and missions has won him a devoted following. I have lost track of how many Griffin books I have read.

The Last Heroes

Title:                  The Last Heroes

Author:                 W. E. B. Griffin,

Griffin, W. E. B. (1985). The Last Heroes. New York: Jove Books

LCCN:    96039458

PS3557.R489137 L3 1997



  • Originally published under the pseudonym Alex Baldwin.

Date Updated:  June 19, 2015

In mid-1941, fun-loving Richard Canidy and straight-arrow Edwin Bitter are hotshot pilot instructors at the Navy’s air station in Pensacola. With minimal prompting, they soon volunteer to serve with the so-called Flying Tigers. Before heading off (on a slow boat) to China, however, these two well-connected friends find time to join the social whirl in Washington, where crafty FDR has detailed Wild Bill Donovan to create an Office of Strategic Services. Shortly after arriving in Southeast Asia, Dick becomes an ace, downing five Japanese planes in a single sortie. The very same day, he’s whisked away on orders from the White House. Meantime, the US (now at war against the Axis powers) plans to build an atomic bomb but lacks a secure source of uraninite. Which is where Dick comes in. His prep-school chum Eric Fulmar (the son of an American film actress and a German industrialist) is dodging the draft boards of both nations by hiding out in North Africa. Operating under cover from the US Embassy in Morocco, Dick is to enlist the aid of Fulmar in abducting a French mining engineer with badly needed information on a vital ore cache in the Belgian Congo. To make the mission more challenging, the amateur agents must carry out their assignment on a split-second schedule (to make an offshore rendezvous with a submarine) and get their man away without arousing the suspicions of either the Nazi or Vichy forces controlling the Maghreb coast.

Special Ops

Title:                  Special Ops

Author:                W. E. B. Griffin

Griffin,W. E. B (2001). Special Ops. New York: Jove Books

LCCN     00062779

PS3557.R489137 S6 2001


Date Updated:  June 19, 2015

This is the last book in the Brotherhood of War series Griffin has written. He wrote it after a short hiatus to work on some of his other series. It brings back the hard-hitting characters and unbeatable action that have made this series an enduring military series.


Bestselling author W.E.B. Griffin, whose novels about various branches of the military have won him battalions of fans, returns to the Brotherhood of War series with this crackling yarn. A detachment of Special Forces hotshots teams up with presidential counselor Sandy Felter to put a stop to Che Guevara’s attempts to “liberate” the Congo from President Joseph Mobutu’s anticommunist government.

Under Felter’s direction, the Green Berets dispatch a special detachment to the Congo. Their mission is to convince Mobutu of the wisdom of the American plan to discredit and humiliate Che and his Cuban troops, rather than martyr him, and thus bring an end to his plan to export Castro-style communism to Africa and South America. Repelling the Simba insurgents with help from forces led by South African mercenary Mike Hoare, Mobutu accepts the plan, along with the Green Beret’s covert assistance, war materiel, and a fighting force manned by many of the characters who peopled The Aviators, Griffin’s last Brotherhood adventure. Yes, fans, the good guys are back–especially flying ace Jack Portet, (a pilot drafted into the army right out of Leopoldville, where he was helping his father run a regional airline), George Washington “Father” Lunsford, and Master Sergeant “Doubting” Thomas. And a lot of them are black, a talented crew of African American airmen and specialists pressed into the Special Forces not just because they’re brave and able but because they can pass as Congolese soldiers and thereby keep the American presence under wraps.

As a matter of historical fact Guevara failed badly in the Congo, and after retreating to Cuba, tried the same gambit in Bolivia, where he eventually died under fire and gained the martyrdom the U.S. tried so hard to prevent. But Special Ops offers a close-up look at a little-known piece of military history in a gloriously testosterone-pumped epic, seasoned with a touch of sex and romance. That may seem incongruous, given Griffin’s clipped, terse writing style, which is punctuated with plenty of military dispatches and a few gratuitous growls at the internecine rivalry among American intelligence agencies. It’s even more incongruous when the general’s daughter gets the flying ace, and her father’s highly placed friends not only get Portet an officer’s stripes but fly her to the Congo to stand by her man. But none of that will stop Griffin’s delighted readers from snapping up his latest chronicle of men at war

It is November, 1964 and Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara enters the Congo with two hundred men, intent on taking his first step toward world revolution. In response, a select group of Green Berets is dispatched to stop Guevara’s attempted takeover of the anti-Communist government. Working covertly with the Congolese army and mercenaries, Colonel Craig Lowell and his Special Forces team must run a razor-thin line to assure Guevara’s military defeat, and prevent him from being martyred in death.


The Shooters

Title:                  The Shooters

Author:                 W. E. B. Griffin

Griffin, W. E. B. (2008).The Shooters. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

LCCN:    2007038587

PS3557.R489137 S47 2008


Date Updated:  June 19, 2015

Griffin’s book is a great story but it is also revealing of how declared agents and illegals operate for spying. Illegals are professional intelligence personnel who are deployed in another country under some kind of cover. They may be assigned as military attaches, but actually function as spies.  Griffin’s story illustrates how illegals may operate in the interest of their country within another country. If they aree caught out they have no protection whatsoever.

In this book a DEA agent is reported captured by drug dealers in Argentina. A young lieutenant in the U.S. Army, stationed at the U.S. Embassy learns of the kidnapping and wants to help his friend. He is also aware of “black ops” carried out by Delta Force officer Charley Castillo and endeavors to contact hm.

Castillo wants to help but recognizes that he could never get clearance from the State Department to carry out a rescue in a South American country. He does find, however, that the DEA agent has powerful political connections in Chicago, and the President himself authorizes Castillo to do whate4ver it takes to bring back the agent.

This book certainly gives a valid picture of Illegals vs. declared operatives; black ops vs. cooperation; intelligence work in general, and the conflict between intelligence agents and policy makers.

Actually, I own the Jove Books edition, the paperback.

By Order of the President

Title:                  By Order of the President

Author:                 W. E. B. Griffin

Griffin, W. E. B. (2004). By Order of the President. New York: Jove Books

LCCN:    2004053417

PS3557.R489137 B9 2004


Date Updated:  June 19, 2015

Glancing at the inside cover of W.E.B. Griffin’s 2004 best-seller list, you might be surprised to see that it involves a plot to destroy the Liberty Bell. After all, as one of the novel’s characters admits, it’s nothing more than a “third-rate tourist attraction.” Yet, By Order of the President actually dovetails rather nicely with the 2004 inauguration, in which President Bush closed his speech thusly: “When the Declaration of Independence was first read in public and the Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration, a witness said, ‘It rang as if it meant something.’“

No, this is not an opportunity for Griffin to expound upon the inextricable link between freedom and this small, cracked symbol of U.S. history or to meditate on the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Rather, he is entirely of the moment, using the Liberty Bell as both a metaphor for our nation’s newly realized fragility in a post-September 11 world and as a reminder that we Americans even now – especially now – still take that liberty for granted.

Called the “poet laureate of the American military” (despite the fact that he does not write poetry) by the Los Angeles Times, Griffin has apparently decided that, after a staggering 35 successful books, it was high time to create his own Jack Ryan; that is, a hero who will save the day in his own series of novels. Luckily, Griffin is neither as clunky nor as mired in technological one-upmanship as Tom Clancy. It also means that Griffin has realized, like so many of us, that the modern battleground has changed. Eschewing the band-of-brothers-style profiles of Marines, Special Ops, and Green Berets for which he has become so famous and so revered, Griffin depicts a hero who can fluidly cross not just military boundaries but also civilian bureaucracies, criminal syndicates, and foreign cultures. His name is Carlos Guillermo “Charley” Castillo – a.k.a. Karl Wilhelm von und zu Gossinger.

The state of the world in Griffin’s novel reads something like this: After a 727 goes missing from an Angolan airport, the president of the United States, frustrated by the lack of cooperation between intelligence agencies, decides to embark on a little fact-finding mission of his own. We are then introduced to the CIA director, a man more concerned with protecting his reputation than with illuminating any great truths or threats; an FBI establishment steadfastly unwilling to give out an ounce of information to any another agency; a new Homeland Security chief utterly flummoxed by the lack of transparency throughout the government; a CENTCOM that’s extremely effective as long as there is time to double check every bit of information from other organizations and then file a dozen permission slips to act; and, of course, Muslim extremists with a plan to crash an airplane into the, um, Liberty Bell. Sound familiar? Frustrated by the tortoise-like speed of the 9/11 Commission and the utter lack of reaction to its report, the president calls in our hero, Charley Castillo, to sort things out. And, acting without the trappings of a Kafkaesque bureaucracy and with the magic power of being able to say things like “Because the president said so,” Castillo is enormously effective.

The son of an Alamo-descendant, a Tex-Mex Medal of Honor winner, and a wealthy German publishing heiress, Castillo is – wonderfully – a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Latino. With seven languages under his belt, family wealth, a distinguished military career, and contacts in just about every corner of government – not to mention the world – Castillo is ideally suited to stop Somali-born mullahs (remember Mogadishu?) from taking a nosedive into Center City, Philadelphia. He is aided in this mission by Alex Pevsner, a wealthy and irresistibly mischievous Russian arms-trafficker; Pevsner’s right-hand man, a renegade FBI agent; Major H. Richard Miller, an excommunicated spook who was stationed in Angola and whose life Castillo saved in Afghanistan; Castillo’s cousin, Fernando Lopez, a businessman, pilot, and comic relief; a lilliputian Special Ops coordinator, General McNab, who seems to view military missions as extreme sport; CENTCOM big-shots Generals McFadden and Naylor; Jack Britton, posing as a Muslim convert or, as Griffin’s Philadelphia Police Department puts it, an “AAL” (African American lunatic); and ultimately a Philadelphia counterterrorism-unit detective, Betty Schneider, the only woman in the novel who does not go to bed with Castillo, despite his keen interest in doing so.

Griffin weaves rich histories for even the most minor characters – from Schneider’s oddly possessive brother to Britton’s Pennsylvania Dutch heritage – that are nearly as engaging as the plot itself. The dialogue, too, is sharp, crass, lively, and often funny as hell. There are heavy doses of that frisky man-on-man flirting of which macho men are so fond. Here the commanding officer at Fort Bragg (who is also, of course, an old friend of Castillo’s) Vic D’Alessandro meets Fernando:

“Charley and I go back a long way,” D’Alessandro said.%p“I know,” Fernando said. “He told me that if you even looked as if you might give me trouble I was to shoot you – twice – in the nuts.” D’Alessandro smiled broadly. “I like him, Charley,” he said. “But I’ll probably kill him anyway.”

There’s also a lot of great angry dialogue – especially when Castillo becomes frustrated with the FBI:

“Fuck you, you candy-ass bureaucratic sonofabitch. I’m going to do whatever I can to burn your ass, his ass, and the ass of the special agent in charge over this. You would be wise to deliver the message and dig out the information that I need, because someone who can get you people off your candy asses will be calling shortly.”

It really makes you wish for the blessing of the commander-in-chief, doesn’t it? “Did you say you’re out of mocha-skim-latte-frap?! I don’t think so, bitch!”

The military is also, it seems, in universal agreement on its Arab slurs:

“What these rag-heads are really trying to do is get all the other rag-heads united against us, right?” asked General McFadden. “… So what would really piss off the world’s rag-heads? An American airplane crashing into that black thing – whatever it is – in Mecca.”

In addition to being a great explanation of why the Arab world may not look kindly upon us, the term “rag-head” (often “Abdullah bin Rag-head”) is one of the most common nouns in a novel that otherwise seems almost self-consciously tolerant of multiculturalism. Luckily, Griffin is well aware of the complex dynamics of the war on terrorism, the perceptions of the United States abroad, and the seeds of extremism that are sown here at home: “If you were a born again Christian, it might help you understand something about how some guy raised in north Philadelphia, who converted to Muslim from, say, the Holy Ghost First Church of Christ African, feels about Islam,” explains Britton.

When a military novel arrives on the scene at a time of war, it has a certain poignancy. When it does so with Griffin’s utter realism, there is an urgency to the message. By Order of the President handily exposes dozens of ways intelligence organizations could easily allow another September 11 to happen just by making their chief objective covering their own asses. No wonder the novel is so popular. With Special Agent, Secret Serviceman, Aide to the Secretary of Homeland Security Major Charley Castillo, with special authority from the president, on the job, I feel better already.


Secret Honor

Title:                  Secret Honor

Author:                 W. E. B. Griffin

LCCN:                    2003612647

PS3557.R489137 S37 2000


Date Updated:  August 13, 2015

Set in the spy-infested capital of Argentina in 1943, Secret Honor is the third book in the series, Honor Bound.

This third entry in the military/espionage Honor Bound series, focusing on the Argentine-German connection during WWII, follows the previous books detailing the Nazi involvement in Argentina. In 1943, the Nazis-ordered the assassination of Jorge Frade, the anti-Axis president of Argentina. He has left the country in a tense mood, which is exacerbated by the murder of two Nazi officers during a night beach landing, part of the top-secret Nazi Operation Phoenix. The aborted mission was crucial to a plan to free the Argentine-interned crew of the Nazi ship Graf Spee, but it turns out that the slain officers had also extorted ransom money from Jews in concentration camps and arranged for their passage to Argentina, without the Reich’s knowledge. Cletus Frade, the 24-year-old American-reared son of the slain president, has returned to Argentina as heir to his father’s vast estates and financial holdings. But Cletus is also an OSS agent, and a chance meeting with Major Hans-Peter von Wachstein, a Nazi pilot attached to the German embassy, results in their friendship. Peter feeds secrets to Cletus in exchange for help in moving Peter’s family’s funds to Argentina, where they hope to live after the war that he and his father (a close aide to the Führer) believe is wrong and already lost. When Himmler launches an investigation to find the embassy spy who scuttled Operation Phoenix, Cletus struggles to protect Peter’s identity and deal with the rising power of pro-Axis Juan Peron. Griffin adroitly shifts among German, American and Argentinian cultural milieux and fills the plot with believable romance, intrigue and diplomatic fencing, while capturing the horrors of war and the crucial role of intelligence agents. He explains nicely the Reich’s need for Argentina as safe harbor to replenish its U-boats and to stash funds for postwar Nazi emigration. What will happen to the SS, Cletus and the surviving cast promises an equally exciting sequel.


The Janson Directive

Title:                  Janson Directive

Author:                Robert Ludlum

Ludlum, Robert (2002). The Janson Directive. New York: St. Martin’s Press

LCCN:    2002005136

PS3562.U26 J36 2002


Date Updated:  June 19, 2015

Former operative, now security specialist Paul Janson is called in to rescue an international diplomat only to find himself set up, his team members killed, and the target of an immensely powerful cabal.

Paul Janson has a difficult past which includes a shadowy, notorious career in U. S. Consular Operations. Now living a quiet life, nothing could lure him back into the field. Except Peter Novak—a man who once saved Janson’s life—who has been kidnapped by terrorists and is set to be executed. Janson hastily assembles a team of former colleagues and protégés to rescue Novak but the operation goes horribly wrong. Now Janson finds himself marked for death and his only hope is to uncover the truth behind these events – a truth that has the power to foment wars, topple governments and change the very course of history.

Ludlum died in March 2001, but here he is again, back with yet another posthumous thriller. Such books rarely live up to the author’s standards, but this one is different it’s vintage Ludlum—big, brawny and loaded with surprises.