What if everything you knew was wrong? What if you were confronted with proof that everything you had done with good, righteous intent had results diametrically opposite to those that you believed would occur? What if you discovered that your spouse of 15 years --- the spouse who recently left you because of your job --- had not married you out of love, but had married you to keep an eye on you? For your employer? Think about these questions. Take a deep breath. And start reading THE PROMETHEUS DECEPTION, the latest offering by author-without-peer Robert Ludlum.
Nicholas Bryson, in THE PROMETHEUS DECEPTION, finds himself asking these same questions. Bryson spent 15 years of his life as a deep cover operative for The Directorate. The idea behind The Directorate is simple. The alphabet soup agencies --- FBI, CIA, NSD, etc., --- spend as much time one-upping each other as they do preserving national security. Hence, The Directory is created. It is a quasi-legal organization whose existence is a close-held and guarded secret, known only to the President of the United States and a few of his closest advisors. Bryson over time becomes The Directorate's most prized operative. It quickly becomes the only life he knows.
Then, his world begins to fall apart. His beloved wife leaves him, a mission goes bad, and he is separated from employment with The Directorate. His former employer sets him up with a new identity and a benign occupation, which he comfortably, if reluctantly, fades into. Bryson plods quietly along for five years until his complacency toward his present and past life is abruptly shattered. He is given irrefutable evidence that The Directorate, rather than supporting the interests of the United States and its national security, has actually been subverting it --- and that Bryson's actions, carried out with the intent of protecting the country and its intelligence network, had precisely the opposite effect. Bryson begins a campaign to make amends for his actions and to seek revenge on those who misled him. Who, however, is really misleading him? The Directorate? Or his newly found friends within the CIA? And more is at stake here than revenge. The fate of the nation may well hinge on Bryson's abilities and what he is --- and is not --- able to do.
I know I have said this before, but it is worth retelling. Many years ago, when Ronald Reagan broke the back of the Soviet Union and effectively ended the Cold War, literary critics dismissed Ludlum and his espionage thrillers. What will Ludlum do, they cried, now that his one-trick, spy vs. spy pony no longer runs? Ludlum has made a career of proving those critics wrong, again and again. Ludlum, with THE PROMETHEUS DECEPTION, scores yet another point in an argument he won some time ago. Nobody, but nobody, does this type of story better. Very highly recommended.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on October 31, 2000