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The Paris Option by Robert Ludlum and Gayle Lunds


Rating: (Recommended)


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We’ll Always Have Paris

Yes, Robert Ludlum is dead, and new books with his name as author continue to appear. The latest of these is The Paris Option, part of the Covert-One series. Arriving at the same time The Bourne Identity hit the movie theaters, Ludlum’s name appears in the largest type on the book jacket, and a second time for good luck. It appears that we’ll always have Paris, and we’ll always have Ludlum.

Knowing the thin glimmer of authorship Ludlum had on this work, my expectations were fairly low, and they were exceeded, to my surprise. The novel is packed with suspense, a reasonable plot, memorable characters, and decent dialogue. Terrorists have created a DNA computer with the power to break quickly the codes that protect all data and computer-controlled applications worldwide. To save civilization, Covert-One agent Jon Smith risks life and limb to destroy the computer before it kills too much of the American way. Here’s an excerpt from a suspenseful episode in the middle of the book:

“And then all three heard it: A strange sound, like a breathy whistle through the teeth of someone in restless sleep. Or perhaps from a lonely nightbird far away. Not just from below, but from above. They were surrounded.

The harsh, splintering sound of a door being forced open below signaled the attack.
Randi jerked her head up. ‘The stairs!’
Her weapon aimed ahead of her, she sprinted from the office, her blond hair flashing with white light as she bolted past Jon.
Peter’s leathery face was grim as he sped toward the shutters that covered the balcony door, snapping off lights as he ran. ‘Check the back windows.’
As gloom descended, Jon raced through the bedroom behind the office to the rear, while at the stairwell Randi peered down and opened up with her H&K MP5K in careful bursts of three. There was a scream from below, followed by the sound of feet and two wild shots. She held her fire.
In the sudden vacuum of sound, Jon checked out the windows. Beneath the safe house, the back patio appeared inhabited only by benches and plants awash in moonlight and shadows. He studied the area, looking for movement, but then heard a muted shuffle in the office behind him.”

I can’t recall Ludlum presenting readers with images like whistling teeth or lonely nightbirds, but setting that aside, if you’re looking for a suspenseful novel, you could do a lot worse that The Paris Option. The names Jon, Peter, and Randi will be familiar to readers of earlier Covert-One novels. You’ll be glad to know that Marty Zellerback is back as well. Unfortunately, so is more violence than is necessary as Jon Smith saves America, secretly.

Steve Hopkins, July 24, 2002


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The recommendation rating for this book appeared in the August 2002 issue of Executive Times


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