Friday, 21 June 2013

Review: The Sigma Protocol by Robert Ludlum

The Sigma Protocol by Robert Ludlum is by far the most entertaining novel I have read of late. Unfortunately, this is the last novel he wrote before his death. Nevertheless, real Ludlum- Style plot twists, fast paced action and adventure, running around the globe, and not-so-willingly protagonists - in short the novel has everything you ask for in a Ludlum novel and for that matter in any thriller novel.

My selection of this book was entirely based on the reputation of Ludlum that I gathered from different sources. This was my first Ludlum's book and nobody recommended this to me. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the novel thoroughly in a stretch of one month, which I usually take to complete a book due to my busy schedules. The events of the novel just stayed with me everywhere I went in between finishing a novel.

The book is about one Ben Hartman, a scion of the multinational financial firm, who is embroiled in an international conspiracy which had its origin in the Second World War. Once on his vacation he survives an assassination bid by one of his close childhood friends. A strange series of events set out when he kills the same friend in self defense. The first in the series being the disappearance of the dead body and all the witness of his assassination attempt. On the other hand, there is Anna Navarro, a pretty and daring agent of Justice Department, USA, who is investigating the death of a number of old men around the world. The deaths seem natural and unconnected though the only common thread between these old men is a SOS Sigma file bearing their names. The rest of the story is how the paths of both the protagonists intertwines and together they unearth a sensational conspiracy of the elites and industrialists, which came under an umbrella of Sigma at the fag end of the Second World War.

The narrative is quintessential Ludlum-plain and flows without any hiccups. The events are plenty and occur at the breakneck speed. There are a number of twists and turns that keep you turning pages after pages to know what is coming next. The action sequences are intricately described with even the little details of stray bullets causing cracks in the cement. The main characters are strongly etched and you actually move with the protagonists and feel tension with any anticipated danger. But the rest of the characters barring Peter, the twin brother of Ben and his wife, fail to live with you just after you finish reading the book. The villain is introduced midway between the running and hustling of Ben and Anna through different European Cities and is not given ample time to develop in front of the eye. The spark between the lead characters also wants more, however, with so many dangers lurking around it would have been difficult to add more cozy moments between Ben and Anna (though in between they make love as well!). The description of different cities depicted in the novel is authentic and mannerism of people there is genuine.

The fact that one likes this book is not because it has anything unique to offer in terms of plot or narrative- it's simple that you enjoy everything in the way Ludlum has described the events. The same stuff written by any other author would have been purely cliché and mediocre. It is the storytelling skill of Ludlum that has lifted the simple and formula based theme to the level that you almost forget everything and glued to the book from the start to the end. However, the maddening travelling around the European cities is stretched a bit too much and the story sometimes drags for this reason. That means it should have been cut short a little bit. All in all, Sigma Protocol is every entertaining. Even if you are not Ludlum's fan, which I have become, you will like this book very much. Go for it!