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Larkin (The Tribune) picks up the reins for the fifth entry in the Ludlum-spawned Covert-One biotech series (The Altman Code; etc.), bringing to the task a solid intelligence, some really scary nanotechnology and a writing style that sometimes lapses into cliché but always gets the job done. FBI Deputy Assistant Director Kit Pierson and her CIA counterpart, Hal Burke, are secretly working on an operation to destroy the Lazarus Movement, an environmental group run amok. Once a legitimate organization, the Lazarus Movement has been taken over by an evil scientist whose goal is—you guessed it—world domination. Thrust into the middle of this deadly struggle is series hero Lt. Col. Jon Smith, M.D., a scientist and operative for Covert-One, a super top-secret intelligence unit. When the Lazarus Movement's attack on a biotech lab releases a deadly brew of nanophages, microscopic killer devices that turn those unlucky enough to inhale them into piles of "reddish liquid sludge," some start to think that the movement's diabolical leader envisions a vastly depopulated world that he can redesign into an environmental paradise. The action careens from continent to continent, with the bad guys always a few steps ahead of the heroes. Eventually, everyone ends up on an island in the Azores, where, after a deadly firefight and some last-minute reversals, the inevitable conclusion arrives. Hand-to-hand action, intriguing science and plot speed will keep most techno-thriller readers nailed to their seats.
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Since his death in 2001, Ludlum has joined the ever-expanding ranks of such authors as V. C Andrews, Lawrence Sanders, and William Coughlin who are writing from beyond the grave. His latest Covert-One novel (written with the able "assistance" of Patrick Larkin) proves that even being entombed six feet under has not hampered his ability to write intricately plotted, action-packed spy yarns. Bioterrorists have gotten hold of some nasty nanophages (submolecular organic machines) that cause humans to dissolve into a pool of bloody slime (described quite graphically) and have no qualms about releasing them on the unsuspecting public. As the body count racks up into the thousands, the evidence seems to point to a militant environmental group, the Lazarus Movement, as the culprit. Unfortunately for the bad guys, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Smith (last seen in The Altman Code, 2003), not only a medical doctor and an expert in molecular biology but also an operative for the president's personal, supersecret intelligence agency Covert-One, has been assigned to investigate. Assisted by CIA agent Randi Russell and Peter Howell of British MI-6, Smith rappels (literally) from one perilous situation to the next. A bit over the top but a fast read and sure to delight fans of both espionage and the technothriller. Michael Gannon
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.