THE LAZARUS VENDETTA is the latest of the Covert-One novels, a series based on a concept created by the late Robert Ludlum. The idea behind Covert-One is basically simple: Covert-One is a super-secret agency whose existence is known only to the President of the United States and is mothballed unless and until a situation arises that requires a quick and quiet solution without any pesky old Congressional oversight getting in the way. The head of this agency that does not exist is Fred Klein, who apparently never sleeps and whose one-dimensionality in his official capacity is actually endearing, not to mention encouraging.
The Covert-One books follow a format of sorts. A threat to the United States, or the world, rears its head. The President is made aware of it. Covert-One kicks into action. Mission accomplished. These are not great intellectual exercises in literacy, and they don't contain a lot of deep character development. They are, however, great fun, and THE LAZARUS VENDETTA is no exception.
THE LAZARUS VENDETTA begins with a nanotechnology experiment that goes horribly awry at The Teller Institute in Santa Fe in the middle of a violent protest by a group of radical unwashed environmentalists belonging to The Lazarus Movement. This causes many "see, I told you so" reactions from the press and certain erstwhile allies of the United States. The failure of the experiment, however, was the result of sabotage, which appears to be linked to The Lazarus Movement. Jon Smith, a researcher who happens to be a Covert-One operative, is on site when the disaster occurs and believes there is much more involved in the protests, and the sabotage, than there seems to be.
Smith almost immediately becomes a target himself as he begins to investigate the causes behind the Teller incident and subsequent "accidents" that cause huge losses of life. In the middle of an attempt on his life, however, Smith receives assistance from an unexpected source, one who, with Smith, will be all that stands between life as we know it and a madman who wants to decimate the earth's population and return the planet to what he regards as its pristine condition.
The plot of THE LAZARUS VENDETTA is a complex one, and occasionally things seem to spin a bit out of control as the reader is tugged back and forth across the threads of the massive duplicity presented here. For the most part, however, it's great fun, with Smith and Company extricating themselves from great peril at irregular intervals and saving the world in the process. For those who can't read too many espionage novels, THE LAZARUS VENDETTA will be yet another welcome release from the Covert-One series.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011