Review

The Sigma Protocol

by Robert Ludlum

Read an Excerpt

While many critics feel that Ludlum's best work came early in
his career, his latest novel (published posthumously) shows that,
despite failing health, his storytelling skill was still at an all
time high. His staging was international; complex parallel
storylines rooted in political intrigue that merge into a powerful
whole were his trademark, and THE SIGMA PROTOCOL provides no less
suspense than his die-hard fans would expect.

The intrigue begins with an American investment banker on vacation
in Switzerland who suddenly finds himself the target of an assassin
--- a man who had once been a childhood friend. As Ben Hartman is
thrown into a race to survive, he begins to uncover evidence of a
secret international group that turned the tragedies of World War
II into profitable ventures. Sigma was a cooperative of powerful
men representing both Allied and Nazi affiliations, and among the
men pictured in a damning photograph stood Ben's father, a Jew and
a Holocaust survivor. Determined to uncover the truth about his
father, Ben soon finds that truth is a chameleon of many colors
fading into the background and nearly impossible to
distinguish.

Simultaneously, US government agent Anna Navarro is pressed into
service to investigate a series of questionable deaths among
several old men whose names all appear in an old OSS file from the
World War II era. Although there seems to be little connection
between them, Anna discovers that what appeared to be deaths by
natural causes were actually murders, and the thin trails of
evidence all seem to lead back to Switzerland. Predictably, her
path eventually crosses that of Ben Hartman. They join forces, and
the dots of evidence begin to form a frightening pattern of current
activities on an international scale. When they ultimately follow
the threads to their common source, the evil they uncover is too
horrific to comprehend.

At the core of Ludlum's writing, and often overlooked in light of
the suspenseful drama that unfolds, are his social and political
beliefs. Every novel, THE SIGMA PROTOCOL included, contains
passages of philosophical expression that make his moral viewpoints
clear. In this story, he tackles the thorny contradiction between
scientific research into human intellectual and biological makeup
and the sanctity of human life. When does the sacrifice of some for
the betterment of all cross the moral line? With every novel rooted
in both the past and present, he even dabbles into the current
firestorm that surrounds the use of fetal tissue to further our
body of scientific knowledge.

It is a testament perhaps to Ludlum's literary skill that these
philosophical moments have never diminished the pure enjoyment of
his thrillers. Indeed, in his long and prolific writing career, his
novels have continued to sustain their popularity while leaving
readers with something of substance to ponder long after the
villains have met their demise. One can only hope that future
generations will continue to discover his marvelous body of work,
but for our generation, he is yet another outstanding storyteller
that has been lost.

Reviewed by Ann Bruns (BkPageWC@aol.com) on January 23, 2011

The Sigma Protocol
by Robert Ludlum

  • Publication Date: October 13, 2002
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0312982518
  • ISBN-13: 9780312982515