I am giving up on yet another book, Robert Ludlum’s The Prometheus Deception. I made it to page 89 but I feel as though it is written for high schoolers who need help seeing things. First, a synopsis of the first few pages because it is an interesting idea. Bryson is a spook working for The Directorate, a super secret organization fighting the evil commies. So super secret that the Presidential award he is awarded cannot be given to him, he is given only a glimpse of it. An error happens and Bryson is put to pasture as an academic in Pennsylvania. At first I was offended, as though academics were so easy to get into, but then it is Pennsylvania (remind me someday to tell of my experience with an education major from a tiny liberal arts school in central PA).
A few years go by and Bryson is contacted by the CIA who tell him that The Directorate was instead a KGB (or was it GRU?) front set up to recruit the best and the brightest (common knowledge in the Reagan years that we were much smarter and capable) who did not have to pose as Americans. Bryson then goes to uncover the current workings of The Directorate. An intereting idea, so interesting that I am fairly certain I have encountered it somewhere else. Have I tried to read this book before and gave it up then as well?
The scene where I finally called no mas finds Bryson on a large container ship that is an arms merchant platform. His cover is blown and he is on the run. He runs into the engine room. The lights are turned off and he is being pursued by four men using night vision goggles, never mind the heat from the engines ought to wreck the utility of the NVGs. Bryson is trapped against a bulkhead and shooting blindly. Someone else enters and shoots his pursuers dead. The other, a woman – sacre bleu! – turns on a light and tells him to follow. Bryson, of course, argues and tests her for it not being a trap. A trap? Even if it is a trap, of course it is you undercover spook, you go with her because not going with her means death. Ludlum decides to lecture the readers with the following nonsensical exchange.
Bryson stared at the woman.
“Come on!” she called, her voice rising in desperation. “If I wanted to kill you, I would have done so already. I’ve got the advantage, I’ve got the infrared – not you.”
“You don’t have the the advantage now,” Bryson called back, his grip steady on his stolen weapon, lowered at his side.
“”I know this ship inside and out. Now, if you want to stay here and play games, be my guest. I have no choice now but to get off the ship. Calcanis’s security force is large – there are plenty of others, probably on their way right now.” With her free hand she pointed toward an object mounted high on one of the bulkheads near the ceiling of the generator room. Bryson recognized it as a surveillance camera….Unlatching [a hatch cover], she glanced back and jerked her head toward the opening, signalling him to follow.
Bryson hesitated no more than a few seconds before he did so. (95)
Really? We needed all that? Of course not, but for some reason Ludlum thought we did. And. And, I had left out about a paragraph of her explaining to him how following her was his only option. No shit. I also left out the end of the previous chapter where she is again telling him he has no option but to follow her.
There were other moments of the book, but that passage was the straw that broke my back. I love thrillers and even mysteries but why are so many of them written with such disdain for the reader? I think of writing as I think of TV. Maybe the audience is fille dof mainly idiots, but that’s okay as long as the story is interesting and the writing good. People comeback for more, they understand there are smarter people in the world and most people are fine with that. ER was a show that proved that theory.
Here is the problem now, what to read next? I am away from my library and I only have heady stuff left but I am in the mood for some lighter fare. Just not Ludlum light.