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The Cassandra Compact Audio CD – Audiobook, Feb 2003
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Covert-One, the president's personal, super-secret agency formed after some recent virus-driven chaos (The Hades Factor, cowritten with Gayle Lynds), is staffed by an unknown number of international covert operatives, including Dr. Jon Smith, late of the USAMRIID. And a good thing, too, because someone's helped themselves to Russia's share of the world's last two stores of the smallpox virus, an eradicated yet hideously deadly bug with no ready vaccine.
That the pox was nabbed and who nabbed it is clear enough early on. Why such a seemingly large and disparate cadre of global citizens (keeping the players straight puts one in mind of Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First" routine) chose to pinch the bug and for what end are the novel's driving questions. Freelance Serbian uber-nasty, Ivan Beria, is among the apparent perpetrators as are Dylan Reed and Adam Treloar of NASA, Tony Price, the head of the super- secret NSA, and a bunch of Russians. The good-guys roster claims Smith; Covert- One's head, Nathaniel Klein; Briton and ex-SAS man, Peter Howell; Smith's deceased girlfriend's sister and CIA operative, Randi Russell; the girlfriend's best friend, backup shuttle astronaut Megan Olson; and another bunch of Russians. Suffice it to say that Smith and company trot the globe, cat-and- mousing after the pox and in so doing careen through a classically speedy and Ludlumesque (if coincidence dependent) plot leaving large numbers of efficiently dispatched corpses in their wake.
Most authors of international thriller-mysteries would give their right trench coat to make The New York Times® Best Sellers list. Of the late Robert Ludlum's 21 novels, 21 have resided upon that list. Where The Cassandra Compact, written with bestselling thriller author Philip Shelby (Gatekeeper, etc.), winds up is anyone's guess, but a few hundred thousand nightstands is a good place to start. And stay tuned for more installments--Ludlum may be dead, but he's not done yet. --Michael Hudson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Ludlum continues to imitate his imitators in his second Covert-One biotech thriller (after The Hades Factor), this time with coauthor Shelby (Days of Drums, etc.). Medical researcher and sometime spy Lt. Col. Jonathan Smith aided by CIA agent Randi Russell, British operative Peter Howell and ultrasecret spymaster Nathaniel Klein faces another villainous plot to unleash a deadly disease on an unsuspecting populace. Retired from the Army Medical Research Unit for Infectious Diseases after the death of his fiance, Smith heads to Venice to meet a Russian scientist who is killed by Sicilian mercenaries before he can warn Smith that a sample of smallpox is about to be stolen from a Russian bioresearch facility. Up against a global military-corporate conspiracy with moles at NASA, the Pentagon and the KGB, Smith follows the smallpox across the Atlantic to Houston Mission Control and beyond. The cinematic chase through changing landscapes and mounting body count gives the book its rapid pace, while insider politics, tradecraft and technical wizardry lend an extra kick. Boilerplate dialogue ("The hit came down as arranged. But there was an unexpected development. I'm expecting an update shortly") and movie logic (after ordering the space shuttle to land in Nevada with the most virulent smallpox strain ever and several dead astronauts aboard, the president hops Air Force One to go meet it) show Ludlum may leverage his brand name, but no longer delivers the complex situations that earned him his reputation as a premier writer of international intrigue. National advertising. (May 15)Forecast: Ludlum died just last month, and word is he left a few books in the works. It's been a while since he was in top form, but some readers are bound to overlook the telltale "Robert Ludlum's" in the title.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
In short, I was pleasantly surprised. The tale, although lighter and clearly not nearly as complex as the typical Ludlum, kept me turning the pages. This book, which grabs the reader early and does not let go, contains much of the suspense and plot twists that Ludlum aficionados have come to love in the conspiracy-thriller genre. Upon final evaluation, the Cassandra Compact made my four-hour plane ride easy duty. My first experience with the series will make me go back to the beginning to try some of the others.
Jon Smith is a special agent for the president's top secret intelligence group Covert One, headed by Nathaniel Klein. When a former Russian KGB agent who now works in BioOperat (where the Russians store their biological weapons, etc.) decides he needs to get out of Russia to tell Klein something he has found out, it is Jon Smith who is sent to help him. Unbeknownst to Klein and Smith, this escape begins their involvement in a plot to steal a sample of smallpox and mutate it into a super virus that is virtually unstoppable.
The plot is being perpetrated by the head of a major pharmaceutical company who is providing the scientific know-how and is working with several members of the US military who are providing cover, location, and muscle to get the job done. Apparently the Cassandra Compact was dreamed up by all involved in order to give the US a super powerful biological weapon and once again place it at the top of the world's superpowers. But the Compact didn't count on two things - Jon Smith and his ability to uncannily show up in the right place at the right time (lots of coincidences). As a result, Jon Smith slowly foils the Compact and in so doing saves most of the good guys.
I have to admit that the book kept my attention up until it entered outer space. At that point there were two problems. First, the CD started skipping so I missed some of what happened and second I began to think this story was never going to end. Well, the CD skipping isn't the authors fault, but the incredibly unwieldy and rambling story is. Like any good spy novel, this one jumps from continent to continent as though they were rocks in a pond resulting in so many locations that you eventually just give up on keeping them straight.Read more ›
The writing is at times rather juvenile. Every woman character is described as looking like a model. There are soap-opera bits about various women "sizing up Jon Smith" and "liking what she sees". It's like every ... show you've ever seen, particularly due to the blatant product placement found throughout the book. Characters eat Egg McMuffins, drink Pepsis, and buy DVDs conveniently on Amazon.com. Mentioning corporations or product names isn't a big deal, but it is rarely necessary for a story. Inserting them obviously to place a product or service is just crass behavior. It's a book. It's a cheap, trashy, dime-store novel, for which I paid $[amount]. I don't want commercials.
I give it two stars because it was a better diversion than whatever was on TV that night.
You know, between the commercials.
1) Too many infiltrators spying on the heroes moves
2) Too much money flaunted by the bad guys
3) Too much of a superhero
With the Cassandra Compact, I gave it a 4 stars because the
writers did not try to make the adversaries incredibly too
powerful, nor the heroes too heroic.
The scientific technology was not too incredible either, which
is a pitfalls for writers like Clive Cussler.
Cassandra Compact is a sequel to the Hades Factor. In the
latter's aftermath, the US President commissioned a secret
agency answerable to the Oval Office only, to provide the
flexibility required. This is the probably American's answer
to Group 4 of UK, created by Jack Higgins. The new agency,
known only as Covert-One, has only 2 perm staff who carried
out the management and admin, operatives are activated on ad-hoc
basis depending on their specialty.
Jon Smith (from Hades Factor) was tasked with bringing out
Russian Yuri Danko. Yuri was no small fry in Russia but he
stumbled across something that scared him so much that he
requested to be evacuated. Before he could get to safety,
he was eliminated, leaving a little clue about Bioparat.
The plot involved smallpox virus being smuggled out of Russia -
to destination unknown. Jon Smith and Covert One must follow
a bloody trail from the Bioparat lab where the virus was stolen.
They were just one step behind the thief, and at each stage,
the thieves managed to keep barely ahead to deliver the virus
to an unknown final destination, for a nightmarish purpose.
The story is tightly woven, without the usual stumbling in the
dark by the heroes.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Loved the book! Loved the series. Now I've read all the books in the Covert-One series. Hopefully they come out with more books someday.Published on June 7 2014 by Cowboypenner
This excellent novel is fast-paced and interesting until the very end. With unrelenting action that keeps you wanting to turn to the next page, or read the next chapter. Read morePublished on Sept. 21 2003
A sorry science fiction book (not a mystery novel in my judgement) not written by Ludlum but his name is on the cover to sell books (my viewpoint). Read morePublished on March 13 2003 by bill savage
It has been awhile since I read a Ludlum thriller. However, the reader of 2003 might very well pick up this book looking for a typical thriller from Ludlum and some modern day... Read morePublished on March 2 2003 by Bruce V. Culver
As a scientist, I view smallpox as I would a rattlesnake. For centuries, smallpox was the world's leading cause of death, and even survivors were left horribly disfigured. Read morePublished on Nov. 15 2002 by George Webster, Ph.D.,
Robert Ludlum has spent years writing great thrillers, and now it seems he's decided to let others write a book, he'll say he co-authored it and cash in. Read morePublished on July 18 2002 by Joe Ulmer
Not having read a lot of Ludlum's work, I'm not susceptible to the disappointment that a lot of readers are clearly feeling in his Covert-One series, cowritten with other authors. Read morePublished on April 30 2002 by Sue
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