New York Times Bestselling Series
For three decades, Robert Ludlum's bestselling novels have set the standard in almost every country in the world against which all other novels of international intrigue are measured. Now The Altman Code is the latest volume in the series of novels featuring Robert Ludlum's Covert-One.
In the middle of the night, on the dark waterside docks of Shanghai, a photographer is recording cargo being secretly loaded when he's brutally killed and his camera destroyed. Shortly thereafter Covert-One director Fred Klein brings the word to the President that there's a Chinese cargo ship rumored to be carrying tons of chemicals to be used by a rogue nation to create new biological weapons. The President cannot let the ship land and risk the consequences of a new stockpile of deadly chemical weapons. Klein is ordered to get the President solid proof of what the Chinese ship is ferrying.
Covert-One agent Jon Smith is sent to rendezvous in Taiwan with another agent who has acquired the ship's true manifest. But before Smith can get the document, the two agents are ambushed, the second agent is murdered, the proof is destroyed, and Smith escapes with only his life, scant clues to mystery behind the cargo ship, and a verbal message---the President's biological father is still alive, held prisoner by the Chinese for fifty years. As the Chinese cargo ship draws ever closer to its end port, Smith must race against the clock to uncover the truth about the ship and its cargo, a truth that probes the deepest secrets of the Chinese ruling party, the faction in Washington working to undermine the elected government, and the international cabal who is thrusting the world to the very brink of war.
This latest product from the efficient assembly line of the Ludlum thriller factory has been somewhat overtaken by events: it revolves around a Chinese freighter carrying weapons-grade chemicals to the port of Basra in Saddam Hussein's Iraq. There are also a couple of neat subplots, including an elderly American being held prisoner in China who claims to be the real father of U.S. President Sam Adams Castilla, and the dirty doings of a giant international business combine called the Altman Group, whose members make Ian Fleming's old adversaries look like the operatives of a corner candy store. All of this provides plenty of action and intrigue for the folks at Covert-One, the top-secret agency which now operates out of a private yacht club in Anacostia, Md. close enough to the White House for President Castilla to drop in on agency boss Fred Klein of an evening with just one Lincoln Town Car full of Secret Service folk. Most of the heavy lifting, actionwise, falls on the capable shoulders of Covert-One's Col. Jon Smith, who as "a medical doctor and biomolecular scientist" as well as an army officer is the ideal combination of brains and muscle. He needs both, as well as the patience to endure dialogue like this from Castilla: "I don't know whether you realize it, but China is one of the signatories of the international agreement that prohibits development, production, stockpiling, or use of chemical weapons. They won't let themselves be revealed as breaking that treaty, because it could slow their march to acquiring a bigger and bigger slice of the global economy." Exactly.
The Altman Code
One should read this book and please keep an open mind. There are things to learn from the read.