THE SIGMA PROTOCOL

Robert Ludlum, Author
Robert Ludlum, Author . St. Martin's $27.95 (528p) ISBN 0-312-27688-5
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In what will likely be Ludlum's first (but not last) posthumous blockbuster, a world-altering scheme masterminded by an ex-Nazi cohort of Mengele overcomes the ethical and moral resistance of the world's most respected and powerful business and political leaders. Navigating a byzantine labyrinth of foreign locales and deploying a huge cast of plotters, the thriller veteran again pulls out all the stops. Anna Navarro, a U.S. homicide specialist for the enigmatic Internal Compliance Unit is sent to look into a spate of mysterious deaths around the world. All the victims are very old wealthy men, and all are connected to the secretive corporation Sigma A.G., founded in Switzerland during WWII. When her only living lead is murdered moments before Anna lands in Switzerland, she crosses paths with Ben Hartman, a New York financier who is dodging the killer who murdered his twin brother, Peter, when Peter discovered that their father, Max, was part of Sigma. Ben is framed for murder and flees to Vienna on the trail of Sigma; he joins forces with Anna when she is set up by her handler. Together, the two elude hit men in Vienna, Paris, Argentina and elsewhere. As they close in on Sigma's secret, Max appears, and the plot hurtles to a dizzying conclusion. Ludlum (The Prometheus Deception, etc.), who died in March 2001, displays once again his dazzling prose and ability to juggle an amazing number of plot lines. His relatively amateur protagonists evade the pros with believable subterfuge and outside help, and the able Anna is a welcome lead. This is a clean launch of the '80s spy novel into a thrilling action/adventure web of intrigue meant for the 21st century. Major ad/promo. (Nov. 1)

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