1940: the Nazis are at the height of their power. France is occupied, Britain is enduring the Blitz and under threat of invasion, America is neutral and Russia has an uneasy alliance with Germany. American Stephen Metcalfe is a well-known man-about-town in occupied Paris. He's also a minor asset in the US's secret intelligence forces in Europe. ...Read More1940: the Nazis are at the height of their power. France is occupied, Britain is enduring the Blitz and under threat of invasion, America is neutral and Russia has an uneasy alliance with Germany. American Stephen Metcalfe is a well-known man-about-town in occupied Paris. He's also a minor asset in the US's secret intelligence forces in Europe. Through a wild twist of fate, it falls to Metcalfe to instigate a bold plan that may be the only hope for what remains of the free world. Now he must travel to wartime Moscow to find, and possibly betray, a former lover ...1991: the Communist empire is on the verge of oblivion. President Gorbachev is a virtual prisoner, and a coup is being planned by a powerful new cabal. Stephen Metcalfe, now a retired ambassador, must return to Moscow and finally reveal a secret that has haunted him since the fall of Berlin ...a secret that might just avert a global cataclysm.Read Less
Publishers Weekly, 2003-09-29 The author's death three years ago has not prevented St. Martin's from publishing recent material under his name. This WWII-era thriller opens in August 1991 as American ambassador Stephen Metcalfe arrives in Moscow, where Communist hard-liners are attempting to wrest control of Russia from the reform government. The fate of the country will be decided by an official known as the Dirizhor-the Conductor-and Metcalfe is the only man who can convince him to resist the forces of Stalinist darkness. Flash back to 1940, just after the Nazis have signed a nonaggression pact with the Russians. Young playboy/espionage agent Metcalfe is sent by American spymaster "Corky" Corcoran to the U.S.S.R. to enlist an old lover, Lana ("an extraordinary woman, impossibly beautiful, magnetic, passionate") in a scheme that if successful will change the course of history. Hot on Metcalfe's tail is assassin Kleist, a Nazi Secret Service agent who dispatches his enemies by garroting them with the E string of his violin. These principals and a host of others thrust and parry between Paris, Moscow and Berlin before a final confrontation in an enormous, mock factory fashioned of plywood and cleverly painted canvas. The factory, a bombing decoy, provides an apt metaphor for the book: a hollow, flimsy construct unable to hold the weight of a bloated plot and an army of cliched characters. All of Ludlum's trademarks are in evidence: one-sentence paragraphs, a plentitude of exclamation points, ridiculous dialogue ("Die, you bastard!") and the breathless use of italics to impart excitement, but in the end there are few surprises in this unsatisfying behemoth. Perhaps it's time to let the master rest in peace. (Oct. 28) Forecast: Ludlum's many fans may relish this gift from the grave, but others will find it thin fare, far from the author's best efforts. 750,000 first printing; major ad/promo campaign. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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