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As the President prepares to visit a Nanotech laboratory in New Mexico a group of environmental protestors, known as the Lazarus movement have set up camp outside. The day before the Presidents visit things turn nasty and the protestors seemingly cause an explosion that releases some of the technology they are objecting to, killing hundreds in the crowd. Something doesn't quite add up and Lt Col Jon Smith of Covert One who had been studying the work the lab had been doing doesn't believe that the technology in this lab would have killed anyone. As scandal hits the FBI and CIA it's left up to Jon Smith and Covert One to uncover what really happened in New Mexico and make sure it doesn't happen again.
Over the years I have read a number of Ludlum's own books and particularly the Bourne series but now the trend seems to be for other authors to pick up his stories and characters and keep writing stories under his name. It happened with the poor continuation of the Bourne series and the Covert One series seems to be going the same way. As Robert Ludlum died in 2001 he only saw two of the Covert One novels written and now through 4 different authors there are a total of 8 books in the series. This time around having read James Cobb's addition to the series I picked up the 5th book, which was written by Patrick Larkin in 2004.
Whilst I had previously been impressed with Cobb's addition to the series there was still a sense of trepidation approaching Larkin's initial outing with Covert One. Thankfully in a similar way to Cobb's story, Larkin seems to have captured the essence of the series. Unlike the extensions to the Bourne series this doesn't seem like just another book to make a few pounds. There is obvious thought gone into making what is really a very interesting and absorbing story. Like the other books I've read from this series Larkin has stuck to the principles using a hidden enemy and throwing in enough twists and turns to hold your interest and keep you flicking over the page.
The plot isn't particularly complex in that it involves some rather simple concepts, but the way Larkin writes and with the addition of a couple of red herrings he keeps it fresh and interesting. Throughout the story he holds your interest with a combination of events and dialogue that keep you happily turning from page to page, It's fair to say that as thrillers go this is a reasonably easy one to read but it does keep you guessing throughout. My only real criticism with the plot and story in general was how quickly everything was wrapped up. It seemed like Larkin had spent 375 pages building up the story and intricacies within the plot only for the whole thing to be discovered and wrapped up in 57 pages, which certainly felt a it rushed.
While the conclusion didn't really work he seems to have taken on the major elements of Ludlum's original concepts. In particular the characters are still fresh and work just as well as they had in Ludlum's first Covert One novel The Hades Factor. The most important factor though is that the way Larkin reintroduces each character means you can easily pick this book up and start reading without any prior introduction to the series. He gives you enough information and characterisation on each character to make the book stand alone, whilst still developing the characters a little further for fans of the series.
Overall I think that Larkin has managed to keep to the traditions of Ludlum's original work and create an interesting story. It's a shame the ending is rushed in the way that it is and it does detract from the overall feel of the story. Had the ending occupied a further 50 or 60 pages giving it the same focus and detail as the build up I'd happily have said this was a 5 star book, but the rushed finish leaves it with a 4. That said I would still thoroughly recommend Larkin's tales from Ludlum's characters as it is interesting and certainly has you turning the pages.