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A number of author Robert Ludlum's books have been based on actual conspiracy theories, and this one is no exception. The Matarese Circle is based on the Trilateral Commission, set up in 1973 to promote closer relations between Japan and the US. Ludlum's book is naturally a work of fiction and no inferences are to be taken from it in terms of corruption or conspiracy.
The two best assassins in the World are sworn enemies. Brandon Scofield is the West's best assassin, and works for the CIA. Vasili Taleniekov is former KGB and now wanted by the Russian authorities. He is their best assassin. The two enemies have spent a long time waiting for an opportunity to end the other's life, but now they find themselves forced to work together to save their own lives and stop the Matarese Circle, the Corsican Brotherhood that will stop at nothing to induce chaos and destruction into the world.
This is one of Ludlum's better novels, and easier to read than some. The plot is quite straightforward, and althought there are the obligatory plot twists, you are pretty sure where the two main characters are standing for the most part and the predictability is mild and refreshing. The character development is excellent, with both main characters Scofield and Taleniekov mapped out with great detail, and the inlcusion of a female element, Antonia, makes for a subplot that is a welcome relief from all of the intensity.
Ludlum's earlier works such as this one are very good and unadulterated by modern technology such as the Internet. This makes the spy game more enjoyable and believable. Top stuff from the author. The rumours are that this is to be made into a film with Denzel Washington playing the lead role of Scofield. I would be interested to see whether it is modernised at all, as in the mid-1970s when this was published technology was not as advanced.
The book is one of my favourite Ludlum's publications. It has a sequel, The Matarese Countdown, published in 1997, that I have not yet read, but if it is half as good as this, I'm in for a treat.