From Publishers Weekly
For some bestselling authors, death is no impediment to an enduring career. But the latest Ludlum (d. 2001) novel, penned by an unnamed hired hand, reveals the problems inherent in such an arrangement: neither sufficiently like Ludlum's originals nor compellingly distinctive, it inhabits a kind of thriller purgatory to which only the most dedicated Ludlumite will be eager to venture. After a two-decade career as a clandestine operative, Hal Ambler is drugged and warehoused in the Parrish Island Psychiatric Facility, a government nuthouse for spies. A sympathetic nurse aids his escape, and soon Ambler is on the run, trying to figure out who he is and, more importantly, who he was. There are a few interesting characters—particularly CIA accountant Clayton Caston, a man who knows little about feelings but who can tease a mountain of information out of a spy's expense account—but the villains are mostly invisible and everybody else ends up dead before you really get to know them. Just because a writer can copy what was once a successful style does not automatically assure his publisher a successful book. (Oct. 25)
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This is Ludlum's twenty-sixth, a remarkable feat given that he is deceased. The locale is a barrier island six miles off the coast of Virginia and officially part of the National Wildlife Refuge System. It's really the site of a psychiatric facility for patients who possess highly classified information. At Parrish Island, "potential security risks could be carefully managed and the patients are identified by number, never by name." One of them is Hal Ambler, who had been a clandestine operative for nearly two decades. He doesn't know why he's being held by his own government. He also doesn't know how long he has been confined, but realizes he must escape. There's probably no doubt in readers' minds--right from the start--of the outcome, but they will be delighted to stick around to the end. Given the late author's still-viable name recognition, this novel is bound to be popular; and it could even be used as a good way for librarians to introduce unfamiliar readers to his works George CohenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved