Playing With Fire

Ludlum's back, with a thriller for the high-tech world of tomorrow.

I must admit that I picked up "The Prometheus Deception" with a faint tinge of trepidation - after all, I had read "The Hades Factor" not too long ago and come away distinctly unimpressed. But Ludlum seems to have corrected his mistakes, and "The Prometheus Deception" turned out to be better than I expected - a smooth, well-written action yarn that keeps you flipping the pages.

"The Prometheus Deception" introduces us to Nicholas Bryson, secret agent extraordinaire. Bryson works for the Directorate, an ultra-secret government agency that performs covert intelligence operations on US and foreign soil. While on assignment in Tunisia, Nick is badly wounded, and is told to "retire"; his new cover is Jonas Barrett, history lecturer at a local college.

Five years later, Bryson is contacted by the CIA and is told that his entire career with the Directorate was a sham; that the Directorate was actually controlled by the Russian GRU; and that both his wife and his former boss were Russian intelligence agents. The CIA now needs Bryson to use his skills and knowledge of the Directorate to infiltrate his former workplace and gather enough evidence to shut it down.

Bryson agrees - but as he follows a twisted trail, he encounters murmurs of a powerful group known only as Prometheus, a group which is somehow connected to the Directorate. Add to that a mysterious cabal of powerful men, headed by a high-tech Seattle billionaire; a beautiful undercover operative agent named Layla; unexpected terrorist attacks in major world cities; a privacy bill in the US Senate; and the re-emergence of his wife; and Bryson soon has his hands full trying to uncover the secret of Prometheus...whilst simultaneously dodging bullets and double-crosses.

Written in traditional Ludlum style, "The Prometheus Deception" is a no-holds-barred action thriller from one of the masters of the field. Spanning major world locations - France, Switzerland, Russia, England, America, a floating arms market off the Spanish coast - and both New Economy finance and post-Cold-War politics, it keeps the reader hooked with its ingenious premise, a never-ending stream of surprises, and some complex double- and triple-crosses. As with most Ludlum books, the destination is inevitable - you already know that good will triumph over evil at the end - but the journey is well worth your time.

This article was first published on 12 Dec 2000.