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43 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is Hal Ambler a Figment of His Own Imagination?
This plot of this novel operates on several different levels - some of which are much more successful than others. Its primary goal is obviously simply to be an old fashioned conspiracy/action/international intrigue thriller in the tradition of Robert Ludlum, the creator and all time master of the genre. Through the person of the central character Harrison (Hal) Ambler it...
Published on December 1, 2005 by Tucker Andersen

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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ambler Warning is disappointing
Because Ludlum is my favorite author, I was disappointed to see a publisher use Ludlum's name without providing the true author's name and produce mediocre work. Bottom line, this book lacked the terrific content that you would find in a typical Ludlum novel. It was so cut-up that the book lacked any continuity to previously described incidents within the book...
Published on November 15, 2005 by Sam Sabella


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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ambler Warning is disappointing, November 15, 2005
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This review is from: The Ambler Warning (Hardcover)
Because Ludlum is my favorite author, I was disappointed to see a publisher use Ludlum's name without providing the true author's name and produce mediocre work. Bottom line, this book lacked the terrific content that you would find in a typical Ludlum novel. It was so cut-up that the book lacked any continuity to previously described incidents within the book. Furthermore, the true author spent more than half the book describing surroundings and things that had nothing to do with the plot. Out of boredom, I found myself skipping parts and not skipping any of the plot. Its only redeeming factor is the surprising ending, even though it took the author less than three pages to cover it. It doesn't even compare to the last two Ludlum novels written by other identified authors. If I was the publisher, I would be ashamed to use Ludlum's name in this manner. But of course, Ludlum's name sells books. Alas!
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43 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is Hal Ambler a Figment of His Own Imagination?, December 1, 2005
This review is from: The Ambler Warning (Hardcover)
This plot of this novel operates on several different levels - some of which are much more successful than others. Its primary goal is obviously simply to be an old fashioned conspiracy/action/international intrigue thriller in the tradition of Robert Ludlum, the creator and all time master of the genre. Through the person of the central character Harrison (Hal) Ambler it also asks the existential question, what constitutes evidence of the person who we believe ourselves to be? And concomitantly, what constitutes proof of our sanity. Furthermore, it has elements of romantic tension between Ambler and Laurel Holland, whose fate becomes inextricably interwoven with Ambler's own attempts to penetrate the veil of his own identity while eluding the pursuers intent on his murder following his "beyond salvage" designation. It also allows the wonderful character development of Clayton Gaston, the CIA analyst who operates in the lowest decile of empathy for his fellow human being and is much more at home in the world of abstract analysis and mathematical deduction than in his own home interacting with his family. Lastly, the conversations and actions of the characters on topics as diverse and the emergence of China as a superpower to brainwashing techniques (and the manufacture of memory vignettes) and as seemingly far afield as the relevant inclusion of Theseus and Ariadne provides the author considerable time to thoroughly expound on esoteric topics which lend authenticity to the tale. Perhaps my favorite was the appropriate inclusion of (and the development of the analogy of present day events to) the Chinese legend of "the man of ancient times, who set up shop in a village selling both a spear he said would penetrate anything and a shield he claimed nothing could penetrate".

We meet Ambler while he is a patient in a heavily guarded psychiatric on Parrish Island, Va. He is convinced of his own sanity, and with Laurel Holland's aid accomplishes a daring escape. However, his life soon spirals out of control, and he is forced to rely on his training as a clandestine operative to repeatedly escape his pursuers. Revise and improvise is his mantra, and while it enables him to stay alive he is completely stonewalled during every attempt to make a connection with his previous identity. In this regard, Ambler's problem is in some ways the exact opposite of Jason Bourne in THE BOURNE IDENTITY, perhaps Ludlum's most recognized novel. Bourne had to continually elude his potential killers/captors while trying to overcome his amnesia and discover his identity. Ambler firmly believes in his own identity but all objective evidence contradicts his memories of his past life. One common thread is their history as deep cover operatives and the survival skills which they possess. The other is the duplicity of their government handlers and their willingness to sacrifice them to their larger political purposes. (This is consistent with Ludlum's recurring major theme, one man or a small group of individuals against a larger and more powerful group able to use the machinery of government to its benefit.)

While I enjoyed this book enough to rate it four stars, I can understand why it has received mixed reviews. First, I share the dismay of other reviewers that St. Martin's Press and the executors of Ludlum's estate continue to trade off Ludlum's name so shamelessly even while I recognize it is their right to do so. As I have indicated, this book has elements that are very Ludlumesque, but it would treat potential readers much more fairly to indicate whether it was simply inspired by Ludlum's tradition, or the plot outlined by him or if it was developed in consultation with him before his death, etc. Furthermore, while I have some guesses regarding potential authors/collaborators it bothers me that this fact is kept a mystery to the readers. Second, while the detailed informational asides actually enhanced my enjoyment of the story, these and some other elements certainly were stylistically very different from Ludlum's work. Third, while I was taken by complete surprise on some occasions (although I never felt that I was misled), a few plot twists were foreshadowed to a sufficient extent that the tension and surprise were somewhat mitigated for me. Finally, while most of my previously unanswered questions were explained during the conclusion or in the epilogue, there was one major point and minor point which continued to bother me. I cannot go into detail without providing spoilers, but I can say the source of Joe Li's information on Ambler's precise locations never became clear to me.

In summary, my rating of this book is as a standalone novel, without reference or comparison to the works of Robert Ludlum. It is a better than average thriller despite its flaws. So, I suggest you read it and discover the true identity of undercover operatives Tarquin, Transcience, Osiris among the many interesting characters. Learn about the truly amazing and unique skill which Harrison Ambler possesses and which is the source of his extraordinary value to his employers. Finally by the end of the novel you will discover whether the following haunting and well known verse is actually symbolic of his existence:

As I was going up the stair
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today.
I wish, I wish he'd stay away.

Is Harrison Ambler really there, and if so who is it who wishes that he was not?

Tucker Andersen
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ludlum is rolling in his grave!, November 21, 2005
By 
Fritz Gorbach "Fritz" (North Tonawanda, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Ambler Warning (Hardcover)
The Ambler Warning is a readable, yet formulaic thriller. What it is most definitely not is the work of Robert Ludlum or any worthy inheritor.

I was given this book under the pretense that it was pure Ludlum, simply published posthumously. Several pages in to the first chapter, I was sure this was a mistake. The author lacks Ludlum's gift for subtle, existential descriptions of characters, locales, and situations, which made one feel intimately aquainted, and instead relies on cold, sterile recitation of sensory details. Furthermore, Ludlum's twists and turns of plot often felt like speeding into a blind corner hiding a hairpin turn, those in The Ambler Warning were quite predictable, more like standing on level ground, watching the truck tha is going to hit you close in from a mile away. As an additional annoyance, the author seems to pay much more attention to technical detail, for example, a description of a sniper's tranquilizer rifle. Some may see this as an addition to authenticity, but since the details are not effectively worked in to the story line, it only makes the novel more standoffish.

All in all, not a bad evening's diversion if you must, but there is definitely better out there.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars ought to be illegal, December 31, 2005
By 
wjn (Macedon, NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Ambler Warning (Hardcover)
Selling books under the name of an author who's been dead for several years... that's what ought to be illegal.

This author, whoever he/she is, ought to be embarrassed. My two major complaints.... 1) this author decides to use obscure words every couple of pages (likes that thesaurus apparently) when more common words would be fine, and certainly less distracting; and 2) the main character is the typical super-agent who you would think would know better than to think he'd be untraceable if he uses a computer to search the internet for secret answers (you guessed it - the bad guys trace the IP address and show up with guns blazing) - BUT THEN THIS SUPER-AGENT DOES THE SAME THING TWO MORE TIMES! By the third time, you're rooting for the bad guys. This is just plain lazy writing - an author not clever enough to find new ways to get the good guy in a pickle.

Save your money and your time - skip this one.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh, please., September 25, 2006
By 
N. Young (Bayfield, CO United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Ambler Warning (Hardcover)
Any modern writer who uses "My Darling" as an endearment should be strung up. I'm a strong proponent in SOD (suspension of disbelief) when it comes to written thrillers and movies, but from the initial Tylenol thing to the ending trigger thing, this piece of work pushed even my limits. It was whiny, highly unlikely, and, in the case of the audiobook reader, passionless, and highly undeserving of the Ludlum name. Skip this one and let Mr. Ludlum rest in peace. Those executing (pun deserved) his estate aren't doing him any favors by condoning the creation of this gargage.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing at Best!, February 5, 2006
By 
Mph (Mission Viejo, CA, United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Ambler Warning (Hardcover)
I am a Ludlum fan - having read his books for years. Until this point, I was happy with the collaborations and/or ghost authors that have continued in the spirit of the "Ludlum" style. This book, however, was so wordy and pontificating that I was annoyed rather than intrigued by the contents. The dialogue is stilted and uninspiring - in some cases verging on riduculous. The descriptions are endless and often meaningless to the story. It does not apprear that the author ever heard the advice given to novice authors: "Don't describe a rifle over the fire place unless it will be used somewhere in the story." I found myself constantly asking myself "Wasn't there a seasoned book editor involved?" I have read worse books in my life, but if you are looking for a fast paced, entertaining spy thriller, there are better ones out there.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointment, January 16, 2006
This review is from: The Ambler Warning (Hardcover)
Not being aware that Mr. Ludlum had passed away, I eagerly purchased this book. What a disappointment! It's a shame to carry on his name in this fashion.

In my opinion, the book was quite amateurish, slow and wordy for wordiness' sake (case in point - the meeting in the airport with the guy using (too many!) fractured idioms, e.g., "kill two fowl with one rock", "birds of the same plumage seek out one another's company", "all that coruscates (coruscates???) is not gold.") Also, as someone else mentioned, the editing seemed lacking (the gun that was seen beneath a bush, highly accessible, then later is was "completely inaccessible").

I won't make the mistake again - there are much better choices around.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What do you expect from a dead author?, March 21, 2006
This review is from: The Ambler Warning (Hardcover)
rostrum, torpor, menschenkenner, insensate, grandiloquent, Glenurquhart, plenary, equipose, solecism, interlocutor, avoirdupois, preternaturally, fetor, torpid, anomie

If you're wondering, yes, as far as I know, that is the english language. Did any of those words grab you? If not, avoid this book at all costs, because that is just a sample of some of the vocabulary being used here. I've been a fan of Robert Ludlum books for years and have read every one. I've even enjoyed the Covert One Novels. But, I was pretty disgusted at having the Ambler Warning being passed off as a Robert Ludlum book. If the book is going to be targeted at Ludlum fans, and in the inside cover of the book, it mentions that the author was carefully selected, whoever was ultimately responsible for that selection must never have read a Ludlum book in their lives. Whoever was the author of the Ambler Warning clearly tries far far far too hard to project themselves as a high brow intellectual based upon the constant insertion of words like those, which Robert Ludlum would never ever ever use in one of his books. In the first several pages of the book, I counted numerous examples of words that I have never heard before in my 38 years of life. I read novels virtually every day, so my vocabulary is vast and yet somehow, this "carefully selected" author, that is supposed to carry on the tradition of Robert Ludlum, is able to find opportunities to inject those kinds of words at every turn of the page. In concept, the plot of the story and the way it unfolds was interesting, and if the book had not been passed off as a Robert Ludlum book, perhaps I would have rated it 2 stars instead of 1, but regardless, it is hard to enjoy reading a book if I have to pull out a dictionary just to understand what is being written.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Let Ludlum Rest In Peace, July 1, 2006
This review is from: The Ambler Warning (Hardcover)
A travesty on so many levels. First the ghost author tries to overcomplicate a plot making everything harder than it needs to be. Next he tries to impress us with the size of his dictionary - since no one would ever use so many obtuse words on a regular basis. To top it all off, the audiobook matches the level of ineptness. The reader is passionless, devoid of any ability as a storyteller. He is but a reader - and a bland one at that. I forced myself to stick it out to the end (only because I was painting the house and needed background noise). On occasion, the bookmark was lost and I debated whether is was worth going back to find my place. There is a reason this is headed for the bargain bin. Do yourself a favor - avoid it and go back and reread some of Ludlum's early stuff. You won't regret it.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The editor should be shot, December 23, 2005
By 
This review is from: The Ambler Warning (Hardcover)
I regularly read thrillers, and was looking forward to this one. From the first few pages, it was clear I would be disappointed. How can a man whose hands are tied behind his back "cradle his ribs"? The Baretta is shining under a bush. Two pages later--the baretta is lost forever. Please. I can't bear to finish this book, a complete affront to an exceptional author. I agree with previous reviewers who suggested enough with the ghost writers.
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The Ambler Warning
The Ambler Warning by Robert Ludlum (Mass Market Paperback - October 31, 2006)
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