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The Prometheus Deception (2001)

The Prometheus Deception (2001)
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3.69 of 5 Votes: 2
ISBN
0312978367 (ISBN13: 9780312978365)
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English
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st. martin's paperbacks
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The Prometheus Deception (2001)
The Prometheus Deception (2001)

About book: My family used to always talk about author Robert Ludlum when I was growing up. My mom and Uncle Bob would speak of convoluted plots, spy thriller tension and a plethora of characters that a reader would have to take notes on in order to keep track of all the development. I had never read a Ludlum novel. I figured I had better join the family club. I was at a friend’s house and saw a copy of “The Prometheus Deception” on the shelf. There was some downtime so I started to read.Oddly enough, “Prometheus” was the final Ludlum book before he passed away in 2001 (a series of posthumous books were published thereafter) so I was starting at the end of a career rather than the beginning.The story seemed to have some promise at the beginning. An agent, Nicholas Bryson, of a super secret government (or are they?) organization called the Directorate is under deep cover in Tunisia attempting to stop a Hezbollah operation from overthrowing the government. During battle, the terrorists discover that their weapons are defective and the leader of the terrorist group, Abu, stabs Bryson in the abdomen. He is helicoptered out. The action picks up next with Bryson walking into the Directorate headquarters (top secret, I might add again) and meeting with his boss/mentor Ted Waller.Long story short, Waller fires Bryson as he believes Bryson’s cover is blown because of the Hezbollah operation going south. It is arranged for Bryson to become a professor of Byzantine history and for 5 years, he is a popular one in Pennslyvania under an alias. Recap: Bryson is outed from an organization he long served and, the fact should be mentioned, his wife Elena had left him. She had seemingly disappeared without any correspondence upon Bryson returning from one of his missions. Needless to say, things are not going well for our protagonist.As Bryson is walking to his car after class one day, he notices some awkwardly dressed guys in suits who seem out of place. They proceed to attack him, seem like they want to kill him but he overpowers them and goes back to his house. A limo pulls up and a politician-looking character walks up to Bryson’s house, is invited in and proceeds to have a conversation with him. By the way, this apparently is a guy with the CIA (Harry Dunne) and the guys attacking Bryson were his men. He explains to Bryson that he had secretly been working for the Russians through the Directorate while believing he was serving American interests. Maybe because the Cold War was still happening in the year 2000, I have no idea.Anyways, this sets up the rather cliché spy drama theme regarding the protagonist not knowing what the truth is about his life’s work and even himself. As one knows, this theme has been drudged up countless times and has been served better elsewhere than in this novel.Too bad because during some sections, “The Prometheus Deception” are a page turner. The eeriness of Ludlum having written this book in 2000 (before 9/11) is also fascinating because the plot evolves into a grand political conspiracy that directly threatens individual privacy. True life revelations that would unfold after 9/11, with Edward Snowden’s info dump and the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping, one could consider Ludlum to have had premonitions or just logically thinking through where the new dotcom/tech bubble would eventually lead us.A shadowy player eventually turns up in the book who sounds a lot like Bill Gates. He is the head of a massive computer company in Seattle and the description of his lake mansion sounds similar to Gates’ home in Medina. The player, Gregson Manning, is a huge supporter of the treaty of surveillance (viewed as the threat to individual privacy) and the book even gives him a decent reason to be. Where his allegiance lies, I won’t say.While the themes are strong, I just wished the story were stronger. We are treated to the usual spy story gimmicks: chases and explosions on ships, cat-and-mouse chases in Europe (Spain), helicopters shooting out bridges and dropping vehicles into the water, double-crossing, double-dealing and people who aren’t what they seem. Ludlum seems to have thrown every element of any spy story ever assembled into this novel and made his hero like James Bond. Or, as is probably more apropos, Jason Bourne.When the ending comes, the whole story becomes insanely ridiculous to the point where some of the character’s actions throughout the novel make no sense. The proceedings become so wildly unbelievable that many will probably regret having taken the time to dig into the novel at all.Like I said, its too bad because of the recommendations I have gotten on Ludlum. In fairness, I probably should have started close to the beginning of his career rather than the novel immediately preceding his death. I certainly hope his other stories are better than this one.

Ludlum is an acknowledged master of spy thrillers and intrigue, another favorite genre of mine. I haven’t read any for several years, but got started on this one, and became caught up in the levels of deception. Nick Bryson is a top agent for a super-secret agency called the Directorate. He is retired after a deep-cover operation goes awry and is given a new identity as professor in a small college. Several years later, his former agent instincts still intact, he realizes he is being shadowed by other agents apparently determined to kidnap him — at least that’s his initial impression. He eludes their trap, only to be approached more civilly by their boss, the head of the CIA, who has a fantastic story to tell. It appears that Bryson had been working for a Russian mole operation that recruited American citizens for super- secret operations that were supposedly in the American national interest: the Directorate. The CIA discovered this hidden agency only after examination of files following the fall of the Soviet Union. Bryson is stunned and agrees to work for the CIA to determine what the Directorate is now planning; evidence has mounted they are still operating and planning some kind of major action. (Ludlum never explains how Bryson could just vanish from his college, but, as with most books in this genre, a certain suspension of belief is necessary. Bryson is also the luckiest man alive because he happens to notice things just before his head is about to get blown off. He should have been a professional gambler; the way he beats the odds, he could have been rich at much less risk.) In a rush to get at the truth and to prevent the machinations of the Directorate, or is it another even more secret organization, Prometheus, he flits from one country to another, followed by assassins and tragedies: anthrax in Vienna, exploding passenger trains, crashing airliners, massive surveillance of everything we do. As it turns out, the Directorate is one of the good guys, but in one of those ironies so typical of these great conspiracy theory books, the good guys have to rely on the web of surveillance networks and hidden conspiracies to prevention of takeover of the world by bad guys who want to legalize the kind of surveillance the Directorate relies on to get the bad guys. I don’t think you can have it both ways. To finally gather the evidence they need, Elena and Nick manage to read through practically the entire British Library in about two hours, something that strained my credulity. Ludlum seems to have as his theme the dangers of a wired world with its potential for destruction of privacy, but this one lacks the subtlety of his earlier books. But if you like James Bond movies and are willing to suspend reality, you’ll love this book.
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Reviews
Theweed74955 Wild
I have enjoyed Ludlum's books as a whole, but after so many of them, they all start to be the same. the only differences are that the main character has a different name as is involved with a different government agency (how many can there possibly be?) The guy is still tall, dark and handsome, is filthy rich, can jump over tall buildings and stop speeding locomotives. He can probably catch a bullet in his teeth, although I've not read that in any of Ludlum's books so far. The plot is similar to some of his other books and the male characters all seem to be members of the "good ole' boy club," complete with cheesy bragging and compliments they throw around at each other as if they were still in high school. The book is okay, if you haven't read too many of them. Had I known what it was going to be like, I wouldn't have bought it.
Patricia
I had a mixture of feeling when I read this book. Initialy I thought this is a thinking mans book with all the CIA, FBI, Directorate secret department within the CIA etc. The main character Nick is put out to grass from the Directorate, having been a hugely experienced spy character. In his new job role as a teacher he is suddenly placed back into his old days and acquaintances from worldwide espionage and a catalogue of disguises. This is a book like James Bond, without the beautiful women. Unfortnately I am not a lover of James Bond as I have always found them so far fetched and non credible and of course James Bond always comes out unscathed. Nick is the same. No matter what dangerous position he comes across, he lives through. Towards the end, when he plunges a car into a river with his wife, but escapes through the windows he left open, Nick and his wife manage to escape helicopter surveillance. Then, miraculously they go to a Four Seasons hotel, filthy dirt (presumably) but have means to do this. Do oversoaked credit cards still work, guess so! After this I started to lose interest but wanted to get to the end of the book. It was like every situation you know Mr Know it All would get out of it. All around people were killed instantly, but not him. The saving chapter was when the New Order was mentioned and the story line is quite plausible in the light of current financial affairs worldwide. Clearly Mr Ludlum is an established writer, but I would just like to see things not so perfect for his lead characters.
Shannon Kirk
I don't feel like this book is worth the effort for a long review.Suffice it to say - yikes! I am a huge Robert Ludlum fan, the Bourne trilogy is one of my favourite series, but this book was dreadful.I admit, somehow it kept me reading. I was amazing when I realized I was on the last chapter, because there were so many cringe-worthy parts. And it wasn't even the storyline (which was so-so). It was the writing! Usually I find Ludlum's writing pretty fantastic for suspense thrillers (where there's usually more focus on the plot) but in this case I could find one or two examples of poor prose or grammar on every page! The same word was repeating in one sentence so many times - obviously...obviously. Street...street...street. A thesaurus was desperately needed here. And a new, or additional, editor.I will have to start another Ludlum book soon just to prove to myself (I hope) that The Prometheus Deception was just the unfortunate result of bad shellfish, or something.Probably the most disappointing thing, overall, was getting to the last few pages and realizing I could close the book right there, set it back on the shel,f and not spend a minute wondering about the ending.
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