Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Ambler Warning, by Robert Ludlum

The Ambler Warning, by Robert Ludlum

I like Robert Ludlum, but the quality of his novels has dropped considerably since he died. His estate has hired unnamed writers to flesh out rough drafts and storylines and publish them as if Ludlum was still alive and writing. A telling sign is the covers now have a ™ symbol after Ludlum’s name — I don’t think I’ve ever seen that next to a normal author credit.

The Ambler Warning is mostly a cheap knockoff of The Bourne Identity. A man wakes up without any recollection of how he got where he was, makes a daring escape, and goes on a quest for his missing memory with the help of a beautiful good Samaritan. Bourne pulls this off wonderfully, but here the gimmicks just seem tired. There were plot holes you can drive a truck through, such as the most observant man in the world drove several cars, bought new clothes and changed into them, and never noticed that his face had been changed. There was a big twist at the end, but it was telegraphed so early that the only shocking thing about it was the hero didn’t see it coming. Not the worst book I’ve ever read, but easily the worst with Ludlum’s name on the cover.

First Sentence:
The building had the invisibility of the commonplace.

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