The Prometheus Deception begins with a deep-cover operative, a beautiful cryptographer with a shadowy past, a government organization that's not what it seems, and an assignment that goes very, very wrong. Nicholas Bryson, a spy for a secret intelligence group known only as the Directorate, has his cover blown on a Tunisian operation and is retired to a new identity: Jonas Barrett, lecturer in Near Eastern history at a small liberal arts college. Five years later, the CIA corners Bryson/Barrett and tells him that his entire 15-year career in the Directorate was a fraud, that the organization was really an elaborate front for the GRU--Soviet military intelligence--and that his former boss, Ted Waller, was actually Gennady Rosovsky, a GRU muckety-muck. Even Bryson's beloved estranged wife, Elena, was actually a Romanian Securitate agent assigned to keep him in line. And now...
"Damn it!" Bryson shouted. "This makes no sense! How ignorant do you think I am? The goddamn GRU, the Russians--that's all in the past. Maybe you Cold War cowboys at Langley haven't yet heard the news--the war's over!"
"Yes," Dunne replied raspily, barely audible. "And for some baffling reason the Directorate is alive and well."
So far so good; after 22 thrillers in this vein, Robert Ludlum could probably have written this one in his sleep. Fortunately for his fans, he was not only awake at the wheel, but ready to race--on a track with more twists and bumps than a roller coaster in an earthquake. The CIA claims it needs Bryson to reinfiltrate the Directorate and help them bring it down, but when Bryson is cornered by an erstwhile Directorate acquaintance aboard a floating arms bazaar and rescued by a woman named Layla just before the ship blows up, he begins to realize how the years of retirement have dulled his formerly keen reaction time. While Bryson cautiously feels (and fights) his way from Virginia to Spain and back again, mistrustful of his new CIA colleagues even as he dodges murder attempts by his former Directorate henchmen, there are rumblings in the hallowed halls of the U.S. Congress. Several respected statesmen are raising a ruckus about widespread invasions of privacy, behind which stand a Seattle software billionaire and a mysterious nexus of power called Prometheus. But is Prometheus allied with the Directorate--or with a different group altogether? Filled with post-Cold War double-crosses, New Economy high jinks, and even a few Wall Street shenanigans thrown in for good measure, The Prometheus Deception
is pure old-style Ludlum, repackaged for the new millennium. --Barrie Trinkle
From Publishers Weekly
Ludlum goes full throttle in this frantically paced, if somewhat hollow, tale of one man's efforts to thwart the forces of world domination. That man is Nick Bryson, a retired operative for the Directorate, the most secretive of the world's many private intelligence agencies. Now working in the peaceful halls of academe, Bryson is stunned when the CIA informs him that the Directorate, to which he pledged his loyalty for nearly 20 years, was actually a Russian front. Worse yet, the organization seems to be stockpiling weapons for a secret assault on the West. When Bryson agrees to help the CIA bring down the Directorate, he's hurled into a series of hair-raising episodes that take him from one world capital to another. With assassins snapping at his heels, Bryson watches in horror as tragedy follows him wherever he goesAan anthrax outbreak in Vienna, a passenger train blown up outside Paris, a jetliner falling from the sky over New York City. Could these terrorist attacks be the work of the Directorate, Bryson wonders, or should they be attributed to the Prometheans, another shadowy intelligence outfit that seems to be the force behind a new international surveillance agency? Catapulting from one action sequence to the next and culminating in a spectacular finale in Seattle, the story is an exciting showcase for all the latest spy gadgetry, but it has little of the contemplative quality and social context of Ludlum's finer efforts. Ludlum's cautionary themeAthat technology will soon allow for surveillance on a scale that grossly infringes on personal privacyAgets lost in the barrage of flying bullets and explosions. Bryson himself is a dynamo and lots of fun to watch in action, but his almost superhuman endurance and intelligence seem more suited to that other heroic gentleman of adventure, Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt, than to a Ludlum hero. Major ad/promo. (Oct.)
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