Meet Robert Ludlum:
It is no coincidence that “Ludlum” is almost onomatopoeic of a heavy heartbeat… I challenge you to roll out of bed, get dressed, see the above in the mirror and be anything other than the King of (somewhat pulpy) spy thrillers.
The Matarese Circle is a cold war era, conspiracy classic with a plot that still holds its own in today’s global politic.
Ludlum delivers an almost timeless thriller.
I write “almost” because every now and then there is a piece of writing that reminds you that the book was published in 1979. The 70’s were a period action-packed with marginalisation and inequality. It was also a technological dark-age.
Consequently, you can get lost in the twists and turns of the story, with only the occasional smattering of bigotry or the expectation that the reader will be amazed that the character can get photographs developed in under a day, to draw your attention to the age of the book.
I can only imagine the depth Ludlum could deliver if he was around today to draw inspiration from the world of electronic surveillance that we we live in.
So, why are Ludlum’s books so damn good? Ludlum follows a fairly repeatable format:
The main character is invariably a total-bad-ass, ex-military, super-spy type who is on the verge of retirement and/or is disillusioned with “the man”. Said bad-ass needs to single-handedly rectify a perceived injustice that evolves into something that threatens the very world we live in.
Despite some form of complex obstacle and near-mortal-wounding, the bad-ass still feels capable of doing this pretty much by themselves and proceeds to do so while rescuing a damsel in distress and kicking bags of ass along the way.
The Matarese Circle is no exception to the rule.
I read the Kindle version, and used WhisperSync, to listen when I couldn’t read. Sadly, Audible’s version sounds like it was recorded on a phonograph in 1877 by a monotonic man with semi-paralysed lips… Unless you have incurable insomnia, avoid spending a credit here.