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Within the American embassy in Oman, over 200 hostages are being held at gunpoint whilst the world watches. There are rumours that the Mahdi, a powerful Middle Eastern Mafia type, is behind the hostage situation. For Congressman Evan Kendrick the involvement of the Mahdi brings back a lot of memories and leads the Congressman to become an unlikely hero. In the US an secret political group known only as Inver Brass want to change the face of American politics and they see Kendrick as their ideal man.
Over the years I have read a number of Robert Ludlum's previous novels and including this one I'm yet to find a bad one written solely by Ludlum. Whilst the Bourne series seems to have been taken over elsewhere, I have yet to find an alternative author who is as consistent as Ludlum was prior to his death in 2001. As one of his longer novels it would be fair to say that had there been one that wasn't quite as good then chances are it would have been this one.
Yet despite reaching an incredible 848 pages long he manages to keep the storyline fresh and interesting. He uses a good mixture of intrigue and action to hold his readers attention and it's through his unique ability to keep the plot fresh that makes the book feel a lot shorter than it actually is. Of course whenever you pick it up the book itself is quite chunky but as you read on the pages seem to fly past. He splits the main story up into two parts but I think had the two parts been separated into two books it wouldn't have made sense, let alone an interesting read.
One of the main features of just about all of his books is his ability to create characters that the readers are interested in and to an extent identify with. His lead character in this book is a very humble and unassuming congressman. As the story develops, Ludlum reveals new details about his lead character and he does it in such small chunks that you don't really notice he is doing it. The main focus of this novel is on Kendrick and it would be fair to say that Ludlum creates a very amiable character.
The supporting characters are just as believable and with the way Ludlum writes you get the feeling that some of them are actually real people you know through the press. His characterisation is believable and very well done. There is a sense as you progress through the book about whether a certain character is going to turn out to be working for the cause or not, but just to keep you guessing Ludlum throws in a few twists with his characters that you really wont be expecting.
I felt that the plot was very well created and that Ludlum must have put a lot of time, effort and research into making it work. The story was something slightly different to the normal types of spy and espionage stories and gave another dimension and twist to the genre. The pace of the story is perfect and whilst looking at the book might prove a little daunting the story inside is certainly worthy of such a thick paperback.
Overall this is another impressive story from the Ludlum back catalogue. He creates a number of interconnecting stories and brings it all together very well in the end. There are a number of complex twists and turns that you certainly wont see coming that keep the story moving on at a reasonable pace throughout it's entire 848 page length. Like the majority of his work, if you like spy and espionage type books, with a hint of political thriller in this case, then this is certainly a book for you.
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