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Robert Ludlum's The Hades Factor: A Covert-One Novel by [Ludlum, Robert, Lynds, Gayle]
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3.8 out of 5 stars 175 customer reviews

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Length: 432 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews Review

With an unbroken string of bestsellers dating from the early '70s (beginning with 1971's The Scarlatti Inheritance) and over 200 million books sold, Robert Ludlum is an acknowledged superstar of the political thriller. Gayle Lynds, who was compared to Ludlum after her 1996 debut, Masquerade, has two successful novels and a slew of pseudonymous pulp fiction titles to her credit. Together--after a fashion--they serve up book 1 of Ludlum's new Covert-One series of trade paperback originals, Robert Ludlum's the Hades Factor.

After three disparate Americans succumb to a hitherto unknown Ebola-like virus, the United States Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) is pressed into service. Since the USAMRIID's top doc (and former military intelligence operative) Lt. Col. Jon Smith has yet to return from an overseas conference, the job of heading the medical research team falls to Smith's colleague and fiancée, Dr. Sophia Russell.

Upon Smith's return, he is sequentially treated to a life-or-death warning from a childhood friend (and rogue FBI agent), several nasty near-death experiences, and the viscerally graphic demise of his wife-to-be, an apparent virus victim. Enraged and bereaved, Smith flies into investigatory action only to discover doctored files, expunged records, and the distinct likelihood that he's dealing with cases of murder-by-virus. As more questions are asked, more deaths occur, official channels slam shut, and Smith finds himself a wanted man, battling his best friend, an evil-genius gazillionaire scientist, corrupt politicians, and Third World terrorists. In other words, it's Smith versus all the usual suspects.

Ludlum and Lynds cover no new ground here (and their prose is less than sterling). In fact, The Hades Factor owes as much to Tom Clancy's Op-Center series--cocreated by Clancy and Steve Pieczenik--and Richard Preston's The Hot Zone as it does to Ludlum's own considerable body of work. That said, The Hades Factor still delivers a respectable level of intrigue and suspense, will likely be snapped up by output-starved Ludlum fanciers, and will be right at home on the bed stands of Preston fans. --Michael Hudson

From Publishers Weekly

In his first book since 1997's The Matarese Countdown, onetime thriller superstar Ludlum teams up with Lynds (Masquerade; Mosaic) for a lackluster trade paperback original, the first volume in a Tom Clancy-like series called "Covert-One." The novel stars ace doctor (and former military spook) Lt. Col. Jonathan Smith, who now works for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick, Md. We first meet Dr. Smith in London, where a childhood friend and rogue FBI agent warns him not to get involved in USAMRIID's latest investigation; the institute is looking into the baffling deaths from an unknown killer virus of three people in three widely separated states. But Smith's colleague and wife-to-be, Dr. Sophia Russell, is already trying to link the virus with a mysterious disease that decimated the Monkey Blood tribe she had worked with during her student days in Peru. What she doesn't know is that the slickly evil scientist who investigated the virus then is now the head of a giant chemical company with links to Third World terrorism. When Russell herself falls victim to the virus early on, Smith must forge ahead with the assistance of her sister, Randi, a CIA agent in Baghdad. Ludlum and Lynds keep things moving at a capable pace, but the familiar plot and uninspired writing (Smith "wore his restlessness like another man wore his skin") do little to foment interest in future installments on the series. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1004 KB
  • Print Length: 432 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0312264372
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (April 1, 2010)
  • Publication Date: April 1, 2010
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FA5QJU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,622 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I am a Ludlum fan (read them all) who loves a good story...not one of those fans who thinks they are a book critic and nitpicks every phrase or fact. If you like a good suspense/espionage story with solid characters that is hard to put down then you will enjoy this book. Lt. Col Robert Smith, MD. is a strong lead character and Marty Zellerbach is an extremely interesting supporting character. Watching Marty battle his Asperger's Syndrome (type of autism) really adds an interesting wrinkle to the story. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to read a good story that is hard to put down..I read it in three days! I look forward to the second book in the series and to reading co-author Gayle Lynds other works.
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Format: Paperback
"He yanked the steering wheel, turned the RV around, and blasted it out of the forest like toothpaste from a tube." I do not believe that Mr. Ludlum would write that wretched a metaphor.
I am about as loyal a reader of Mr. Ludlum as I could be. I have read all of his books, and certainly some have been better than others, however this breaks new ground and then sinks into it. The only bright spot is that he has what I hope will be a great novel that is shown on the inside cover, "The Prometheus Deception", arriving this fall. This next work will carry only his name, and I hope it restores him to the top of the list in this genre. Reviewers did not greet his last full novel with great enthusiasm.
Read the description of the book's storyline on the back cover, think for a moment, and if it sounds familiar, don't be surprised. The same description could be used for one of this summer's movies, and a ticket to it costs less. The mechanics of how the story is carried out, again from another movie from the not too distant past.
I lived in the town and worked in one of the Cities that are used in the book. No one involved with this book knows anything about the City in question. They mention a prominent structure and it's newness. I don't now how you describe a structure that has stood for decades as new, or recent, or in the last 20 years. The book is riddled with factual errors; the story has been done many times, and done many times better.
Mr. Ludlum evidently produced this as a joint effort with Ms. Gayle Lynds. I have no idea who wrote what, but the result is not worth your reading time.
At one point during the story President Castilla of the United States says, "Are we all to perish under our own stupidity". The answer Mr. President is yes, if you believe a massive Pharmaceutical Campus can be built in a National Park.
Buy and read almost anything else.
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Format: Paperback
When THE MATARESE COUNTDOWN appeared, I wrote a scathing (and well-deserved) review of the worst book Robert Ludlum had ever written. In that review, I suggested that Ludlum either retire or rediscover the passion and inventiveness that marked his early work. With the help of Gayle Lynds, he seems to be making a comeback.
THE HADES FACTOR will be familiar to long-time Ludlum readers. The protagonist, Lt. Colonel Jonathan Smith, M.D., faces a conspiracy of monumental proportions aided by only a few long-time acquaintances and a beautiful sidekick. Yet the Ludlum-Lynds tandem breathes new life into this somewhat stale framework. The result is a story that moves along fairly well (although too hastily at times) with much better character development than his most recent work (although one would like to see a little bit more of Smith's background, it will likely be covered later in the series). In particular, I very much enjoyed Martin Zellerbach, the computer genius with Asperger's Syndrome who I sincerely hope will make appearances in other Covert-One novels.
Unfortunately, the plot remains problematic. Indeed, THE HADES FACTOR's storyline is almost a mirror image of the most recent Tom Clancy offering, RAINBOW SIX. Without giving too much away, you have a killer virus sprung on the world with ulterior motives (profit this time, not ecological purity as in Clancy's novel). The derivative plot is not the only problem here, but the others are minor in comparison--for instance, the Zellerbach character is drawn a bit too cartoonish despite Ludlum and Lynds's best intentions, but again, this could be touched up in later books.
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Format: Paperback
I'm a big fan of thrillers and medical thrillers. For straight out political thrillers, I don't think you can do better than Tom Clancy. For medical thrillers, Robin Cook is unparalleled. This book seems to be a great combination of the two authors. I have never read a Robert Ludlum book before, and had no real intention to until I was browsing a bookstore, saw this title, and picked it up. I have always been a fan of fiction dealing with microbes, and especially as biological weapons. This book did not disappoint me. It is fast paced, highly addictive (WARNING - don't being reading late at night - you'll lose a lot of sleep staying up to finish it) and informative without being too hard to understand.
So why didn't I give it 5 stars? Well, I think that the ending plot twist was somewhat predictable, and some of the characters weren't quite realistic enough. Another large disappointment is that the back cover of the book reveals the death of one of the major characters. People don't want to see that - people (or at least I do) want to be surprised by things like that. Overall, those are just minor things, but keep the book from perfection. On the plus side, some of the characters are so intriguing, they just beg for a sequel to continue fleshing out their characters (Marty comes to mind, for those who have read this already).
This is a great read for anyone, but just shy of a perfect biological weapon novel (In my opinion, Executive Orders is unapproachable in that category). It is a worthy beginning to a proposed series, and well worth your time and money.
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