Robert Ludlum lives. There were those who believed that with the
collapse of the Soviet Union, Ludlum and other spy craft
practitioners would quietly fade away, having no credible villain
to frame a novel around. Such true believers forgot that evil
always exists; it merely takes different forms. Ludlum's work
continued apace and --- as is amply evident by THE MOSCOW VECTOR
and its predecessors --- even survived his passing, with the able
assistance of Patrick Larkin.
THE MOSCOW VECTOR is the latest of the Covert-One novels.
Covert-One arose from a concept created by Ludlum shortly before
his death. It is a secret organization answering only to the
President of the United States, a group that quietly goes about the
business of protecting the government and the documents and
principles upon which it is built while operating outside of it.
THE MOSCOW VECTOR arguably is the best volume in the series to
date, and not because of the principals involved, who include the
reliably competent Dr. Jon Smith and the quietly enchanting but
dangerous Fiona Devlin. Nor is the startle factor of this tale
provided by Wulf Renke, the mad scientist who is the method by
which Victor Dudarev, the President of Russia, intends to bring
about the reinstitution of the Soviet Union with the involuntary
involvement of the former member states.
Rather, the real star of THE MOSCOW VECTOR is the ingeniously
dangerous weapon that Dudarev is using to put his plan into motion.
It is a bio-weapon (not a virus) tailored to strike a particular
individual's DNA, destroying silently and insidiously from within,
while leaving no trace of its passage. It's a brilliant concept
that's frightening in its potential. The targets of this lethal
instrument are U.S. intelligence analysts, the duly-elected leaders
of the former Soviet satellites --- and a certain leader of the
free world who sits in the highest office of the U.S. government.
Dudarev's plan is to remove everyone capable of stopping his
invasion before it takes place.
Smith, Devlin, and a couple of surprising but familiar assistants
are in a race against time, not only to prevent Dudarev from
hatching his plot, but also to stop the implementation of the
bio-weapon as it moves, slowly but quietly, into place in the White
Larkin's always competent and reliable storytelling abilities are
augmented here by an ingenious weapons concept that is all the more
frightening because of its believability. Those who have never
sampled a Covert-One novel will find THE MOSCOW VECTOR an excellent
place to begin, as Larkin brings Ludlum's Cold War villains full
circle with a 21st century weapon to boot. Recommended.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011