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Oh my darling, Oh My darling, oh my darling......
The Apocalypse Watch - Robert Ludlum
Member Name: broxi3781
The Apocalypse Watch - Robert Ludlum
Date: 15/12/12, updated on 15/12/12 (63 review reads)
Advantages: May suit some who enjoy conspiracy theories.
Disadvantages: Unrealistic to the point of being silly - far too much meaningless conversation.
And no - the line does not finish Clementine - but at times I felt like it should having read the phrase "Oh My Darling" one time to many in this book. Of course I am aware that i am the pot calling the kettle black. I do realise that I seriously overuse some words in my reviews such as "In all honesty" and "fortunately" - but then again I am not a professional writer whose earnings can pay for private jets, mansions and more. All the same I feel a bit guilty slagging Robert Ludlum off too much for this book. This book was written towards the end of his career and he was in poor health at the time. I have never read his other works so can not really compare, but if the films are anything to judge by - I must assume he was a highly talented man to have created the Bourne Saga.
The Apocalypse Watch begins high in the Austrian Alps where a supposedly secretive group have built a top secret hideaway to begin the advent of the Fourth Reich. These are unrepentant Nazi's, complete with Nazi uniforms and a new Lebensborn project, as well as a top secret weapon and a new plan for world domination. This is not a small plot by any means but involves thousands of individuals all over the globe, including the Sonnenkind - children bred in the Lebensborn project who were sent away after the war to be raised in influential families and serve as sleepers - waiting until the time was right to usher in the Fourth Reich. Of course we all know that you can not really just breed Nazi ideology in quite the same way you breed pointing instincts into a dog - so these children were all carefully trained in childhood as well. A massive project with incredible logistics which rely on every one of these children's adoptive parents keeping silent - and of course every child going along with the regime as one well - a single voice in the press could have sparked a wave of outrage. This theory also fails to mention the innocent children born to Lebensborn programmes who were left to languish in the abominable conditions after the war - made to suffer for the sins of their fathers. If in fact planners of a Fourth Reich valued these children so highly - would they not have done something to rescue these children?
This new Nazi base, complete with military barracks, Nazi uniforms and full military training as well as highly advanced scientific research stations has been penetrated by American agent Harry Latham - who is then subjected to a newly developed weapon A computer chip that will control his actions and behaviour. He is made to think he has pulled off his deception and escaped the base with a list of members of the new Nazi party, which includes high ranking officials in governments all over the world. Most of the names are false - this action has been taken to destabilise the worlds governments before operation Water Lightening is used to bring the world to its knees. There is one catch to the computer chip - it will violently explode in a number of days, so Latham must be captured again, or killed with his head removed before the implant blows his brains all over the place.
Meanwhile, his brother Drew has gone to France to investigate his disappearance ( in spite of the fact that he disappeared in Austria - Drew just happens to be in the right place for everything to fall into place). There he teams up with Karin - and intelligence operative with ties to his brother, and Wittowski a gruff old soldier also with an intelligence background, and connection to both Drew and his brother, and finally Moreau a French Deuxieme operative (Never mind the fact the Deuxieme no longer exists - to the best of my knowledge - it is openly operating in the 1990's in this book). Drew himself is Consular Operative which, as far as I can determine is a job title made up just for the book, but in short he is attached to an embassy but can act as a secret agent as well. As far as the personalities of the characters - I'm afraid there isn't really anything to describe. Drew is the super cool super agent. Karin brave and tough, but wilting in the arms of our hero, and still carrying somefeelings for a man who beat and abused her, Wittowski a typical old soldier. Moreau holds some mystery at first, but again the character is quite one dimensional.
I didn't really expect a character driven book in this case. Having watched and very much enjoyed the Bourne films, I was expecting what I would refer to as an an action driven plot, but most would probably refer to as plot driven narrative. That said I believe a truly good story combines elements of both, but in I felt that this really had neither. This is the first book I have ever read that I would consider conversation driven. The characters lack depth but they never ever shut up. Even in the midst of a a very serious black ops mission on a heavily fortified enemy base where discovery would mean death, they still have time for idle chit chat and very lame attempts at banter, while accompanied by two of France's top commando operatives - men who surely tell them in no uncertain terms to shut their mouths - if they didn't just decide they were too much of a liability and shut them permanently.
Perhaps I am really missing something with this story. There certainly is some action and suspense, but the the incessant babble put me off, especially with overused terms such as "My Darling", "Lady" which Drew persists in calling Karin despite her objections that it is pejorative - a word she uses overmuch as well. She does really like words like pejorative a prevaricator but overall I found her character exceptionally false - although not as false as various prostitutes who are taken into the operations confidence on a whim and happily risk their lives at the drop of a hat. It simply does not make sense.
While the main text of the story had some incredibly far fetched premises - I'm willing to suspend belief for awhile in the name of a good yarn. As mentioned, I wasn't really expecting exceptionally well developed characters, but I was expecting a solid plot. I found the plot passable but not at all plausible in the main part of the text. It was readable but it would have been a far better story with at least 50% of the text edited out. This book is far too long and consists of far too much filler. But the ending of story was so silly it was truly pathetic. I suppose if you love conspiracy theories this could play into them, but had they chosen to use aliens in spaceships to close the story and discovered Adolph Hitler to actually have been a rather nasty alien exiled from his own planet attempting to become overlord of a primitive one, it would have been every bit as believable. I can only describe the ending as shoddy, unrealistic and completely disappointing.
The only real redeeming factor for me with this book was that I did enjoy the short German phrases, and trying to guess at the meaning of the words I did know. Even so I am not all certain about the use of some of the words. I know Leibe can mean beloved or sweetheart and could easily jump to the conclusion that both Liebling and Liebste would have similar definitions. I did look them up to be certain and when one of the translations was "darling " I cringed yet again. Perhaps I am wrong - and I am hoping Malu will read this and jump in - but I was not aware that these terms were used for everyday address in the way that "love" might be in Britain? I felt that the words were reserved for someone the speaker actually has some connection with - but perhaps I am mistaken. Of course the author did primarily use words the average western reader would be familiar with - but is was fun guessing at others using both similarities to English words and context as clues. The only other mitigating factor is that at least we did not get actual descriptions of the bedroom activity, only the inane conversations before and after.
Up until the end of this book I was expecting to leave it with a rating of 3, considering the ending I feel that 2 stars is a gift. It isn't so horrible that you can not finish the book, but I did resort to speed to reading through some conversations, as some sections are not unlike being cornered by the office bore in a one sided conversation. There could have been a decent story buried in here, but too much of it was just too unrealistic. add to this the epic conversations with nothing to say, and a very unpleasant style of dialogue, and this book has completely put me off ever picking up another book by the same author. But as much I dislike it, I know many other people have loved this author's works, and even this book has some very high ratings - although the overall rating is not much higher than mine. I suppose it is all a matter of taste. there is also the fact that something about the Third Reich evokes wary fascination in many people. I have always felt that there is something there that I simply can not fathom. And you really can not come up with anything more frightening than a Fourth Reich for most people. I can understand the demand for this type of story - but not for this one in particular.
Summary: Not to my tastes at all.