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The Ambler Warning (2006)

The Ambler Warning (2006)
3.7 of 5 Votes: 3
0312990693 (ISBN13: 9780312990695)
st. martin's paperbacks
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The Ambler Warning (2006)
The Ambler Warning (2006)

About book: Why, oh why, is this book averaging almost four stars?I have to admit, I do enjoy reading a brain-dead thriller every once in a while. Robert Ludlum, a deceased thriller writer, wrote almost 30 novels and had over 200 million copies of his books in print. Needless to say, while his critics savaged him, he certainly managed to find what appealed to many readers. (And I realize only in retrospect how terrible the "brain-dead thriller" line sounds in this context).Unfortunately for his fans, the late Ludlum is still churning out novels. You see, he carelessly left several manuscripts unpublished and summaries unfinished at the time of his death. His estate, working with a "carefully selected author", is publishing Ludlum's remaining works. Regrettably, the author appears to have been carefully selected based on price.His posthumous novel, The Ambler Warning, once again feature's Ludlum rich ideas, intricate plots, and a lone individual up against shadowy, unknown forces capable of harming the entire world. The basic premise is solid: what does the government do with spies who go crazy? Assuming our government doesn't kill its own people, it can't just put them in a regular psychiatric facility lest they spill dangerous secrets so the book posits a top secret, heavily guarded hospital where they can be safely looked after. The problem is that Hal Ambler, one patient held there, is not crazy and has been involuntarily incarcerated by forces who want to keep him quiet. Naturally he escapes.The devil, of course, is in the details and the ghostwriter — what an appropriate term — doesn't seem terribly interested in said details. Major plot points are glossed over, ridiculously unbelievable things routinely take place and the entire story seems held together by Post-It Notes rather than Super Glue.In one scene, the hero must escape a building and he heads to the roof, hoping to escape to another roof and avoid his pursuers. Does he? Who knows? All we know is that he heads to the roof and in his next scene, he's made his getaway.In another scene, Parisian police are yelling at him to stop as he speeds away from a murder in a stolen ambulance with a dead body in the back. His new girlfriend doesn't bat an eyelash and later that evening they make love like nothing's happened. Naturally, there's no mention of how he avoids the police or what happened to the ambulance or the body.What is frustrating, though, is that the author clearly can write. While we're certainly not talking Faulkner, neither is this writing on par with pulp fiction. There are moments where you can see the author's potential, but they're few and far between. Instead, the book feels rushed. I doubt there were many drafts here. Perhaps, given more time, this could have matured into a solid thriller. Not a great one — Ludlum was rarely accused of greatness — but a solid one that could have been pleasant beach material.I know how books like this get published. Publishing houses see a guaranteed income from a solid name and are willing to hold their noses. There is no way an editor could have read this story and not cringed at how terribly it's been crafted.

I had never read a Robert Ludlum novel before and maybe chose badly in starting with one that he never finished and was somehow prepared for publication by his heirs/estate. There were episodes where rightly or wrongly I felt a rather heavy handed editor had tried to fill in the gaps - not always successfully. Anyway, it is an entertaining action read - just don't expect something like the Jason Bourne films because a lot has been added and improved by screenwriters and directors there. It's not exactly thrill a minute stuff and there's a lot more introspection and explanation than I expected. In fact some parts felt slow and plodding, but overall it was fun to read. You do have to stretch your sense of reality a bit - for a newly escaped mental hospital patient Ambler does seem to have an amazing ability to find money, clothes and state of the art weapons. However, he's a likeable character and you do want him to win in the end. After all, powerful senior US officials really can't be allowed to go around assassinating people create world chaos, can they?For me the only major flaw was the ending. SPOILER ALERT here.............For anyone who gave it more than a moment's thought it was fairly obvious from the middle of the story onwards what was going to happen. If Ambler was playing his part in the plan to perfection then his escape from the hospital prison must have been intentional too, so..... You do the maths! We are intended to think that his own desperate desire to be accepted and believed could lead him to make an extremely bad character judgement. I'm not sure I was convinced of that. In everything else he is just too focused and resourceful - not really sure that can be combined with such emotional desperation
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Up until this week the only things I'd ever read by Robert Ludlum were the first two Jason Bourne books, The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy, primarily on the recommendation of LJ user mamishka. I remember thinking at the time that Ludlum had an annoying way of using way too many exclamation marks and way too much italics in his prose, but he was certainly capable of putting together a decently intriguing plot. Certainly not a stellar writer, but solid enough if what you're looking for
Long book and relatively predictable (guessed it about 1/3 of the way through). However, it was still a very good, exciting book. If you are a fan of the Jason Bourne series, this has a lot of the same elements. If you tired of the Jason Bourne series, then you'll most likely get about 2/3 of the way through this book and struggle to stay focused on completing it. This has a lot of the same elements of the Jason Bourne idea... man without a clear memory of the past, trying to find himself and who's trying to kill him, and turning to a beautiful woman for support. The end is very different, and is worth sticking around for (even though it is pretty predictable, I thought). Also, the introduction of a CIA auditor with a dry, humorless, "logical" personality provides for great comic relief at points through out the book.
Steve Lindahl
I read this book because someone I met recommended Robert Ludlum novels. I was disappointed to discover after I had started the book that it was a work he had left as an unfinished manuscript when he died. A ghost writer was hired to finish it, so I don't know how much of this book was written by Ludlum.The book starts out in a mental hospital that is designed to handle cases of agents with knowledge of national secrets who have become security risks due to their mental illnesses. Harrison Ambler is a patient who doesn't belong there. He has worked for the US government to eliminate people deemed to be enemies. Ambler escapes, of course, and discovers that his identity has been erased. He contacts old acquaintances and searches computer records all to no avail. His only opportunity to discover who he is and what has happened to his identity comes through an organization that wants him to kill the Chinese head of state. What I liked most about the book was the good action scenes and the way I was taken to interesting places such as Taiwan, Montreal, and Paris. My biggest disappointed was in the treatment of the women who were mostly secondary, undeveloped characters. What I thought would be my biggest disappointment in the work was explained with a surprise at the end. That was interesting, but didn't work well for me.
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