The Hades Factor

Robert Ludlum, Author, Gayle Lynds, Joint Author St. Martin's Press $15.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-312-26437-6
In his first book since 1997's The Matarese Countdown, onetime thriller superstar Ludlum teams up with Lynds (Masquerade; Mosaic) for a lackluster trade paperback original, the first volume in a Tom Clancy-like series called ""Covert-One."" The novel stars ace doctor (and former military spook) Lt. Col. Jonathan Smith, who now works for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick, Md. We first meet Dr. Smith in London, where a childhood friend and rogue FBI agent warns him not to get involved in USAMRIID's latest investigation; the institute is looking into the baffling deaths from an unknown killer virus of three people in three widely separated states. But Smith's colleague and wife-to-be, Dr. Sophia Russell, is already trying to link the virus with a mysterious disease that decimated the Monkey Blood tribe she had worked with during her student days in Peru. What she doesn't know is that the slickly evil scientist who investigated the virus then is now the head of a giant chemical company with links to Third World terrorism. When Russell herself falls victim to the virus early on, Smith must forge ahead with the assistance of her sister, Randi, a CIA agent in Baghdad. Ludlum and Lynds keep things moving at a capable pace, but the familiar plot and uninspired writing (Smith ""wore his restlessness like another man wore his skin"") do little to foment interest in future installments on the series. (June)
Reviewed on: 07/03/2000
Release date: 07/01/2000
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Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-0-312-27158-9
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