The Paris Option
Robert Ludlum & Gayle Lynds
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Buy *The Paris Option: A Covert One Novel* online

The Paris Option: A Covert One Novel
Robert Ludlum & Gayle Lynds
St. Martin's Mass Market
512 pages
March 2003
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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On an innocent festive night, one of the laboratory buildings in the esteemed Pasteur Institute in Paris explodes into a million fragments. The lab housed the renowned scientist Dr. …mile Chambord, who was close to achieving a breakthrough in his efforts to develop an infinitely fast computer -- the so-called DNA or molecular computer. Shock ripples through the scientific community. But an American army doctor, Dr. Jon Smith, is especially worried about his friend Dr. Marty Zellerbach, who was badly injured in the explosion. Jon, a member of the ultra-secret Covert-One operations, is given further bad news: apparently, the explosion was just a cover-up to kill Dr. Chambord and steal his prototype computer. Then, shockingly, some of United Statesí most hacker-proof computer systems, both civilian and military, are hacked into at lightning speed and no one is able to figure out the hows and the whys of it.

Jon goes to Paris, ostensibly to visit the comatose Marty, but heís actually there to find if any link exists between the explosion and the random computer hacking. Picking up bits and pieces of arbitrary information, Jon begins to piece together details of what is perhaps the most massive, elaborate and deadly conspiracy ever. Meanwhile, with communications sabotaged worldwide and people following the people following him, Jon determinedly sets out to find the people behind all this. Bullets fly, missiles launch, Dr. Chambordís daughter is kidnapped, and Jon finds himself surrounded by danger. His search for the missing computer takes him on an intensely suspenseful journey all over Europe and beyond, even as nuclear holocaust threatens. Jonís old pals, CIA agent Randi Russell and the aged British spy Peter Howell, unexpectedly team up with him, and together they begin a most dangerous mission.

The number-one bestselling author of twenty-one novels published in thirty-two languages and forty countries, Robert Ludlum has long been acclaimed as the master of suspense and international intrigue. Considering the fact that Robert Ludlum passed away in 2001, this book does not disappoint that much and indeed, continues to take the readers on a journey across a favorite Ludlum setting, namely Europe. Ludlumís novels generally are absorbing and complicated intrigues filled with bullets, missiles, crazed generals, egomaniacal villains, and, of course, a tough but determined hero.

This book has all the usual ingredients. But while being very suspenseful and overall exciting, it lacks an edge, a tautness and novelty of plot and a ruthlessness that characterized Ludlumís earlier novels such as The Bourne Identity or The Aquitaine Progression. This is at the same time pleasing as well as disappointing Ė pleasing because these latest novels have kept up with the times and incorporate the latest world events and scientific discoveries, such as the DNA computer that is a primary factor in this novel; disappointing because these books have become a series, where these three or four central characters repeatedly get together to defeat villains and prevent world disaster, albeit under different circumstances, and are no longer individual masterpieces. When Ludlum did the same thing with the Bourne series, the unrelenting suspense was simply breathtaking, but even it began to drag towards the end. And it is to be reiterated - The Paris Option is enjoyable and entertaining, despite these flaws.

© 2003 by Rashmi Srinivas for Curled Up With a Good Book

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