Robert Ludlum, Gayle Lynds, . . St. Martin's/Griffin, $15.95 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-312-28987-4

After a 30-year career that engendered dozens of bestselling novels of international intrigue, Ludlum died in the spring of 2001, just before publication of The Cassandra Compact, the second title in the Covert-One biotech series. This third Covert-One opus—co-written with spy novelist Gayle Lynds (Mosaic), who also worked on the first Covert-One epic, The Hades Factor—reprises the over-the-top, almost parodic tone of its predecessors with more antics from undercover agent army Lt. Col. Jonathan Smith, M.D. A horrific explosion destroys the Paris lab of computer genius Emile Chambord on the eve of his breakthrough in the development of a revolutionary molecular DNA computer that has the ability to control virtually all the world's computerized operations. Overnight, military satellites, international data banks and worldwide communications threaten to crash. Faced with the enormity of this malevolent power play, Dr. Jon Smith sets out to find the perpetrators. Arriving in Paris just as Chambord's daughter, Thérèse, is being abducted, Smith trails the terrorists to Toledo, Spain. Just when this thrilling setup promises a return to vintage Ludlum, Smith's corny pals, CIA spook Randi Russell and British MI6 spy Peter Howell, pop up and they all go bumbling across Europe to avert a nuclear holocaust. Gainsaying the old saw, "You can't take it with you," Ludlum bequeaths yet another ghostly burlesque of his fabled plotting talents. Major ad/promo. (June 18)