Title: The Osterman Weekend
Author: Robert Ludlum
Ludlum, Robert. The Osterman Weekend. New York, World Pub
Date Updated: June 21, 2015
I like the Bourne series from Ludlum, even though critics pan it. Perhaps it is not as well written as some of Ludlum’s earlier works, such as The Osterman Weekend.
John Tanner lives with his wife and two children in a small town somewhere in New Jersey. He manages the news department of a TV-company, and his house and swimming-pool form a nice antidote for the stress of his job. He plans for the coming weekend to be more than enough of that antidote since the Ostermans, longtime friends, will be spending the weekend with his family. They have invited a few neighbors as well, a tradition for many years.
Small things annoy Tanner. For some reason the police seems to be everywhere, giving him the impression they’re keeping an eye on him. And then he’s called to Washington with a lame excuse. He learns that the CIA is watching his house because of Omega, a shadowy Soviet plan. And one of his friends among those will be visiting next weekend, the Ostermans, the Tremaynes, or the Cardones, are part of that plan. Tanner is maneuvered into accepting to go on with the weekend and pretend everything is normal, to allow the CIA to find out whom among the guests is part of Omega so capture becomes possible.
Paranoia begins to dominate Tanner’s life. Each of his friends seem to be hinting about Omega, each behaves suspiciously—or is Tanner’s mind playing games with him? Then suddenly one of the surveilling agents is found murdered, in Tanner’s backyard. Now the safety of his family is in danger.
The story has a sluggish beginning, but quickly lets the reader experience exactly what Tanner experiences: what the heck is going on? What information is correct? Who can be trusted? Tanner is just an ordinary human thrown into a not so ordinary situation. How would you react if you were in his shoes? You’ll find the suspense building up when he decides to stop riding along with events and starts to act, even if he knows just as little as the reader as to what exactly he’s reacting against. Leaving the reader in the same dark as the main characters is not something that works all the time, but in this case it helps making a real page-turner of this book.
Very un-Ludlum-like this book is not very long, a little over 300 pages. The book is condensed to its essential: a thriller that makes the reader want to know what happens. True, the characters are not too deeply explored, true, the plot could be more fitting. But that doesn’t matter—what matters is that this book does exactly what it intends: take you at full speed towards a finale that has some surprises hidden.