One of the world's greatest men has been kidnapped.
Nobel laureate, international financier, and philanthropist Peter Novak - a billionaire who has committed his life and fortune to fostering democracy around the world through his Liberty Foundation - has been captured by the forces led by the near-mythical terrorist known as The Caliph. Holding Novak in a near impenetrable fortress, The Caliph has refused to negotiate for his release, planning instead to brutally execute Novak in a matter of days.
Running out of time and hope, Novak's people turn to a man with a long history of defeating impossible odds: Paul Janson. For decades, Janson was an operative and assassin whose skills and exploits made him a legend in the notorious U.S. covert agency Consular Operatations. No longer able to live with the brutality, bloodshed, and personal loss that marked his career, Janson has retired from the field and nothing could lure him back. Nothing except Peter Novak, a man who once saved Janson's life when everyone else was powerless to help.
With the considerable resources of The Liberty Foundation at his disposal, Janson hastily assembles a crack extraction team, setting in motion an ingenious rescue operation. But the operation goes horribly wrong and Janson is marked for death, the target of a "beyond salvage" order issued from the highest level of the government.
Now he is running for his life, pursued by Jessica Kincaid, a young agent of astonishing ability who - as a student of Janson's own lethal arsenal of tactics and techniques - can anticipate and counter his every move. To survive, Janson must outrace a conspiracy that has gone beyond the control of its originators. To win, he must counter it with a conspiracy of his own.
With mere days, perhaps only hours, remaining, and shadowed by a secret that links Janson's violent life with that of the visionary peacemaker Peter Novak, Janson's only hope is to uncover the nearly unimaginable truth behind these events - a truth that has the power to foment wars, topple governments, and change the very course of history.
Ludlum died in March 2001, but here he is again, back with yet another posthumous thriller. Such books rarely live up to the author's standards, but this one is different: it's vintage Ludlum big, brawny and loaded with surprises. The hero is Paul Janson, a private security consultant who retired a few years ago after a notorious career as the U.S. government's go-to guy for nasty jobs no one else was willing to take. Against his better judgment, Janson accepts an assignment to rescue Peter Novak, a Nobel Peace Prize winning philanthropist and international troubleshooter held captive by Islamic extremists on an island in the Indian Ocean. Janson pulls off the stunning rescue, but as they make their escape, Novak dies in a fiery explosion or does he? Janson has his doubts; within hours, he finds himself targeted by separate groups of assassins for reasons that baffle him. As he zigzags his way across Europe, leaving piles of bodies at each stop, he begins to wonder who Novak really is. The answer he eventually discovers provides readers with one of Ludlum's most outrageous plot twists in years. Extremely engaging and agonizingly suspenseful, Ludlum's plot bolts from scene to scene and locale to locale Hungary, Amsterdam, London, New York City never settling for one bombshell when it can drop four or five. If this wild, unpredictable and colorfully cast novel is Ludlum's swan song (he supposedly left behind notes for several thrillers), it's a memorable one indeed.