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The Janson Directive: A Novel
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Showing 1-5 of 5 reviews(3 star). See all 51 reviews
on August 7, 2003
Paul Janson thought he had left the world of spies and intrigue behind. The nightmares had faded as well though he still mourned his deceased pregnant wife Helene. Her death at the hands of terrorists occurred five years ago and was the impetus for his leaving Consular Operations, a covert spy unit within the State Department.
The five years have been financially rewarding, as Janson is now a corporate security consultant. The company is his and his reputation allows him to be very selective about his clients. His calm and very orderly life is shattered when, while sitting in a VIP lounge at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, he hears an old operational alias of his being paged. What initially appears to be coincidence quickly turns into an urgent plea for help from Marta Lange on behalf of Peter Novak.
Peter Novak is a Billionaire and philanthropist who oversees the Liberty Foundation. Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Novak is a visionary who has achieved peaceful settlements in some of the most war torn places in the world. While brokering a peace agreement, he was kidnapped by Kanga rebels led by the world-renowned terrorist known as Caliph. They have announced that Novak is to be executed for various crimes within days.
Not only does Janson owe his life to Novak because of a past situation, the very group responsible for killing Helene in a terrorist bomb attack has grabbed Novak. A debt of honor must be paid and Janson quickly assembles a team consisting of some of the most skilled operatives he has worked with in the past. For various stated political reasons, the United States government won't help and it is up to Janson, his four-member team and the resources of the Liberty Foundation to rescue Novak. But things begin to go very wrong from the start of the operation and Janson, feeling his age as well as his old skills returning, becomes aware that he is being used by forces unknown for unknown purposes. Compromised and suspected by his agents of his own government he thought were friends and allies, Janson finds himself soon on another rescue mission. In this case to save his own life and clear his name.
It is extremely difficult to criticize a novel by a novelist now deceased. This novel has all the usual Ludlum elements in that it features complex storylines, plots within plots, rogue elements of the United States government, honor and debts to be repaid as well as a globe trotting spy cast adrift. But it misses the human touch that made some of his work so incredibly good.
Paul Janson is a complex character full of deep emotion and pain according to the novel. And while that idea is constantly reinforced throughout the work, the novel never makes the visceral connection with the reader. There is an emotional detachment to the work, which is difficult to describe, that distances the novel from the reader and renders the repeated emotional references meaningless.
Despite the usual Ludlum elements as noted above, this lack of human connection in the work makes this an average read at best and disappointing at worst. For long time Ludlum fans with a discerning eye, this novel does not reflect the grand master at his best. Rumor has it that at least one more and possibly as many as three more are in the publishing pipeline. One can hope that one of those may reflect the grand master at his writing best.
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on January 3, 2003
I used to look so forward to the publication of a new novel by Robert Ludlum and when I saw The Janson Directive on the book shelves that excitement was renewed. However, The Janson Directive is only a parody of prior works.
The premise is the same of most of almost every other Ludlum novel - the reluctant hero who is forced to save the world from a super secret government agency or billionaire. At lease in this case it was not Nazi's trying to establish the Fourth Reich. Add in a female heroine, who the hero saved form being raped, and one has a formula that has been successful. The Janson Directive adopts this formula lock, stock and barrel.
It would have been a more entertaining book, notwithstanding the predictable nature, if it had been 100 pages shorter. Unlike earlier Ludlum book, the author at times discusses ad nauseam the details of certain of the events so that even the action loses its impact. Ludlum is still better than most other action writers and I am glad that I read the book because it was entertaining. However, it was not one his best.
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on November 18, 2002
This book could have really been great!
Great storyline.
For the most part, well-developed characters.
But, the writing is NOT vintage Ludlum.
I do not have any insight into the history of this particular writing. However, I do know that the author of this story (or at least the final chapters) must have written steamy romance novels in a past life.
The protagonist, Paul Janson, is all man for 2/3's of this story. Then, without warning, he becomes a melodramatic sap. For instance, in a closing chapter, he rants and shouts at the remaining members of a secret US power-sect [a group that includes the President of the US] like a forsaken lover in a sappy love-novel.
There are hints of a slowly-weakening character change throughout the story. As I venture further into the plot I hope I'm proven wrong in my assessments .
Instead, I end up disappointed.
What of our Protagonist? Not only is Paul Janson weak; he's a raving, feminized fool. He stares down the bad guy in what should be a mind-shattering climactic explosion of student vs. mentor. Instead, Janson blanks out and goes shopping for yesterday's memories. It sunk to the point where I started to reach for a tissue to hand to the dear boy.
Sorry, but I don't like my spy-heroes sounding like refugees from a pulp love novel.
As stated earlier, Great story with nice plotting. Lukewarm character development of Paul Janson. This guy goes from ruthless protector of the USA to a whiny fool towards the latter stage of the story.
I couldn't wait to finish it.
**Want vintage Ludlum (with help from Gayle Linds)? Read 'The Paris Option'. Now, that's great writing in the Ludlum style!
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on December 9, 2002
you can't miss with his first 10 books, then the stories become recipe / predictable. Janson had a fun plot, the regular twists and a fun heroine, and the trademark of ludlum: everybody is after him and he can trust no one, done very well again in this book. better than his past few books. i'll miss mr. ludlum, and recommend the bourne identity and the matarese circle (and the genre's first star, mr.alistair mclean's books)
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon July 9, 2007
This story had trouble keeping my attention; it was overall a slow moving read a bit too much verbiage to keep me in full interest. But it was a fun book, a typical Ludlum novel.
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