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