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A homeless man in Boston, an Army Major in California, and a teenage girl in Atlanta all die suddenly and painfully-each a victim of an unknown doomsday virus. For three days, a team of scientists in a U.S. government laboratory has been frantically trying to unlock the virus's secrets. When the leading researcher from that lab, Lt. Col. Jonathan Smith, returns from overseas, he barely survives a series of well-orchestrated attempts made on his life. By the time Smith eludes his pursuers and makes it home, he ...
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A homeless man in Boston, an Army Major in California, and a teenage girl in Atlanta all die suddenly and painfully-each a victim of an unknown doomsday virus. For three days, a team of scientists in a U.S. government laboratory has been frantically trying to unlock the virus's secrets. When the leading researcher from that lab, Lt. Col. Jonathan Smith, returns from overseas, he barely survives a series of well-orchestrated attempts made on his life. By the time Smith eludes his pursuers and makes it home, he discovers that the virus has claimed its fourth victim, Dr. Sophia Russell-Smith's Fiancée. Devastated and enraged, Smith quickly uncovers evidence that his lover's death was no accident-that someone out there has the virus, and the pandemic that threatens hundreds of millions of lives is no accident. But wherever he turns, Smith finds that some unseen force has blocked his quest for information.
Not knowing whom to trust, Smith assembles a private team to search for the truth behind the deadly virus. While the death toll mounts, their quest leads to the highest levels of power and the darkest corners of the earth, as they match wits with a determined genius-and as a fate of the world lies in the balance.
- Chicago Tribune
"Ludlum stuffs more surprises into his novels than any other six-pack of thriller writers combined."
- The New York Times
"Welcome to Robert Ludlum's world...fast pacing, tight plotting, international intrigue."
- The Cleveland Plain Dealer
"The pace is fast, the action plentiful...a must read."
"The robust writing and a breakneck pace that made Ludlum famous are evident...and they manage to satisfy."
- Boston Herald
"The new team... has a pop hit on their hands that should bounce right up the bestseller lists."
- Kirkus Review
"As fast paced, suspenseful, and exciting as a James Bond film, The Hades Factor is a top-notch thriller!"
- Romantic Times
"The Hades Factor pairs the fertile mind of Robert Ludlum and the seasoned success of Gayle Lynds in a summer page turner that catches you in the first dozen pages and pulls you straight through....this Ludlum/Lynds alloy...takes you through some lively and surprising turns to a satisfying conclusion."
- Santa Barbara News-Press
Mario Dublin stumbled along the busy downtown street, a dollar bill clutched in his shaking hand. With the intense purpose of a man who knew exactly where he was going, the homeless derelict swayed as he walked and slapped at his head with the hand that was not clutching the dollar. He reeled inside a cut-rate drug store with discount signs plastered across both front windows.
Shaking, he shoved the dollar across the counter to the clerk. "Advil. Aspirin kills my stomach. I needs Advil."
The clerk curled his lip at the unshaven man in the ragged remnants of an army uniform. Still, business was business. He reached back to a shelf of analgesics and held out the smallest box of Advil. "You'd better have three more dollars to go with that one."
Dublin dropped the single bill onto the counter and reached for the box.
The clerk pulled it back. "You heard me, buddy. Three more bucks. No ticky, no shirty."
"On'y got a dollar ... my head's breakin' open." With amazing speed, Dublin lurched across the counter and grabbed the small box.
The clerk tried to pull it back, but Dublin hung on. They struggled, knocking over a jar of candy bars and crashing a display of vitamins to the floor.
"Let it go, Eddie!" the pharmacist shouted from the rear. He reached for the telephone. "Let him have it!"
As the pharmacist dialed, the clerk let go.
Frantic, Dublin tore at the sealed cardboard, fumbled with the safety cap, and dumped the tablets into his hand. Some flew across the floor. He shoved the tablets into his mouth, choked as he tried to swallow all at once, and slumped to the floor, weak from pain. He pressed the heels of his hands to his temples and sobbed.
Moments latter a patrol car pulled up outside the shop. The pharmacist waved the policemen to come inside. He pointed to Mario Dublin curled up on the floor, and shouted, "Get that stinking bum out of here! Look what he did to my place. I intend to press charges of assault and robbery!"
The policemen pulled out their nightsticks. They noted the minor damage and the strewn pills, but they smelled alcohol, too.
The younger one heaved Dublin up to his feet. "Okay, Mario, let's take a ride."
The second patrolman took Dublin's other arm. They walked the unresisting drunk out to their patrol car. But as the second officer opened the door, the younger one pushed down on Dublin's head to guide him inside.
Dublin screamed and lashed out, twisting away from the hand on his throbbing head.
"Grab him, Manny!" the younger cop yelled.
Manny tried to grip Dublin, but the drunk wrenched free. The younger cop tackled him. The older one swung his nightstick and knocked Dublin down. Dublin screamed. His body shook, and he rolled on the pavement.
The two policemen blanched and stared at each other.
Manny protested, "I didn't hit him that hard."
The younger bent to help Dublin up. "Jesus. He's burning up!"
"Get him in the car!"
They picked up the gasping Dublin and dumped him onto the car's rear seat. Manny raced the squad car, its siren wailing, through the night streets. As soon as he screeched to a stop at the emergency room, Manny flung open his door and tore inside the hospital, shouting for help.
The other officer sprinted around the car to open Dublin's door.
When the doctors and nurses arrived with a gurney, the younger cop seemed paralyzed, staring into the car's rear where Mario Dublin lay unconscious in blood that had pooled on the seat and spilled onto the floor.
The doctor inhaled sharply. Then he climbed inside, felt for a pulse, listened to the man's chest, and backed outside, shaking his head. "He's dead."
"No way!" The older cop's voice rose. "We barely touched the son-of-a-bitch! They ain't gonna lay this one on us."
* * *
Because the police were involved, only four hours later the medical examiner prepared for the autopsy of the late Mario Dublin, address unknown, in the morgue on the basement level of the hospital.
The double doors of the suite flung wide. "Walter! Don't open him!"
Dr. Walter Pecjic looked up. "What's wrong, Andy?"
"Maybe nothing," Dr. Andrew Wilks said nervously, "but all that blood in the patrol car scares the hell out of me. Acute respiratory distress syndrome shouldn't lead to blood from the mouth. I've only seen that kind of blood from a hemorrhagic fever I helped treat when I was in the Peace Corps in Africa. This guy was carrying a Disabled American Vets card. Maybe he was stationed in Somalia or somewhere else in Africa." Dr. Pecjic stared down at the dead man he was about to cut open. Then he returned the scalpel to the tray. "Maybe we'd better call the director."
"And call Infectious Diseases, too," Dr. Wilks said.
Dr. Pecjic nodded, the fear naked in his eyes.
7:55 P.M. Atlanta, Georgia
Packed inside the high school auditorium, the audience of parents and friends was hushed. Up on the bright stage, a beautiful teenage girl stood in front of the scenery intended to depict the restaurant in William Inge's Bus Stop. Her movements were awkward, and her words, ordinarily free and open, were stiff.
None of that bothered the stout, motherly woman in the first row. She wore a silver-gray dress of the kind the bride's mother at a formal wedding would choose, topped by a celebratory corsage of roses. She beamed up at the girl, and when the scene ended to polite applause, her clapping rang resoundingly.
At the final curtain, she leaped to her feet to applaud. She went around to the stage door to wait as the cast emerged in twos and threes to meet parents, boyfriends, and girlfriends. This was the last performance of the annual school play, and they were flushed with triumph, eager for the cast party that would last long into the night.
"I wish your father could've been here to see you tonight, Billie Jo," the proud mother said as the high school beauty climbed into the car.
"So do I, Mom. Let's go home."
"Home?" The motherly woman was confused.
"I just need to lie down for a while. Then I'll change for the party, okay?"
"You sound bad." Her mother studied her, then turned the car into traffic. Billie Jo had been sniffling and coughing for more than a week but had insisted on performing anyway.
"It's just a cold, mother," the girl said irritably.
By the time they reached the house, she was rubbing her eyes and groaning. Two red fever spots showed on her cheeks. Frantic, her terrified mother unlocked the front door and raced inside to dial 911. The police told her to leave the girl in the car and keep her warm and quiet. The paramedics arrived in three minutes.
In the ambulance, as the siren screamed through the Atlanta streets, the girl moaned and writhed on the gurney, struggling for breath. The mother wiped her daughter's fevered face and broke into despairing tears.
At the hospital emergency room, a nurse held the mother's hand. "We'll do everything necessary, Mrs. Pickett. I'm sure she'll be better soon." Two hours later, blood gushed from Billie Jo Pickett's mouth, and she died.
5:12 P.M. Fort Irwin, Barstow, California
The California high desert in early October was as uncertain and changeable as the orders of a new second lieutenant with his first platoon. This particular day had been clear and sunny, and by the time Phyllis Anderson began preparing dinner in the kitchen of her pleasant two-story house in the best section of the National Training Center's family housing, she was feeling optimistic. It had been a hot day and her husband, Keith, had taken a good nap. He had been fighting a heavy cold for two weeks, and she hoped the sun and warmth would clear it up once and for all.
Outside the kitchen windows, the lawn sprinklers were at work in the afternoon's long shadows. Her flower beds bloomed with late summer flowers that defied the harsh wilderness of thorny gray-green mesquite, yucca, creosote, and cacti growing among the black rocks of the beige desert.
Phyllis hummed to herself as she put macaroni into the microwave. She listened for the footsteps of her husband coming down the stairs. The major had night operations tonight. But the stumbling clatter sounded more like Keith Jr., sliding and bumping his way down, excited about the movie she planned to take both children to while their father was working. After all, it was Friday night.
She shouted, "Jay-Jay, stop that!"
But it was not Keith Jr. Her husband, partially dressed in desert camouflage, staggered into the warm kitchen. He was dripping with sweat, and his hands squeezed his head as if to keep it from exploding.
He gasped, "... hospital ... help ..."
In front of her horrified eyes, the major collapsed on the kitchen floor, his chest heaving as he strained to breathe.
Shocked, Phyllis stared then she moved with the speed and purpose of a soldier's wife. She tore out of the kitchen. Without knocking, she yanked open the side door of the house next to theirs and burst into the kitchen.
Capt. Paul Novak and his wife, Judy, gaped.
"Phyllis?" Novak stood up. "What's wrong, Phyllis?"
The major's wife did not waste a word. "Paul, I need you. Judy, come watch the kids. Hurry!"
She whirled and ran. Captain Novak and his wife were right behind. When called to action, a soldier learns to ask no questions. In the kitchen of the Anderson house, the Novaks took in the scene instantly.
"Nine-one-one?" Judy Novak reached for the telephone.
"No time!" Novak cried.
"Our car!" Phyllis shouted.
Judy Novak ran up the stairs to where the two children were in their bedrooms getting ready to enjoy an evening out. Phyllis Anderson and Novak picked up the gasping major. Blood trickled out from his nose. He was semiconscious, moaning, unable to speak. Carrying him, they rushed across the lawn to the parked car.
Novak took the wheel, and Phyllis climbed into the rear beside her husband. Fighting back sobs, she cradled the major's head on her shoulder and held him close. His eyes stared up at her in agony as he fought for air. Novak sped through the base, blasting the car's horn. Traffic parted like an infantry company with the tanks coming through. But by the time they reached the Weed Army Community Hospital, Major Keith Anderson was unconscious.
Three hours later he was dead.
In the case of sudden, unexplained death in the State of California, an autopsy was mandated. Because of the unusual circumstances of the death, the major was rushed to the morgue. But as soon as the army pathologist opened the chest cavity, massive quantities of blood erupted, spraying him. His face turned chalk white. He jumped to his feet, snapped off his rubber gloves, and ran out of the autopsy chamber to his office.
He grabbed the phone. "Get me the Pentagon and USAMRIID. Now! Priority!"
Excerpted from The Hades Factor by Robert Ludlum Copyright © 2000 by Robert Ludlum. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted June 10, 2012
Easily got me hooked on the Covert-One series. A book for those who love Tom Clancy, but dread his page-long descriptions of weaponry. Fast-paced, with plenty of plot twists and offbeat characters.
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Posted August 28, 2001
One of my very favorite authors since I read the Gemini Contenders. His unique style from the Bourne 'books' through to Col. Jon Smith have totally captivated me. This book is no exception. It's a MUST READ!
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Posted October 22, 2013
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Posted November 19, 2012
Posted July 2, 2012
Posted June 29, 2012
Nearly done reading this. Very well written. I like the way our protagonist re-discovers the strengths of his past. The wonderful supporting cast is varied and interesting. The villains are eccentric yet very believable. I am trying not to give away any plot details here!
I have read Ludlum before (he wrote the Bourne series). Perhaps it is the collaboration, but I like this even better!
Posted February 16, 2012
Posted December 14, 2011
Posted January 24, 2011
This book is the beginning of the Covert-One series, and has an exciting plot that developes throughout the story. The characters are likeable and keep the story fresh. Once you pick up this book you are going to have trouble putting it down.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 9, 2011
Posted July 12, 2009
The Hades Factor was my first Robert Ludlum novel, and I was very impressed! This is the first in the Covert-One series, and it may be one of the best. Perfect for anyone looking for action and adventure!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 28, 2008
This book is a outstanding book. Mr. Ludlum has created a ingenuis plot that keeps you reading for hours on end. The characters are well established, unique, and intresting. They will have you pulling for them worrying with them and laughing with them. Undoubtably a fantastic bokk that is bothh very well written and has a very clever plot that will have you guessing and reading frantically. This is a must read foe anyone in to this kind of book and for any Ludlum fan.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 21, 2003
This book was very good, it started off quick and never stopped. The Covert-One Series is going to be great, I can tell. The Hades Factor, in my opinion is one of the better Ludlum books, trailing only by some of his first novels and the Jason Bourne series.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 7, 2002
This is not the Ludlum I would expect. It was very predictable and shallow. The super-human Dr. Smith survives shootout after shootout with the predictability of a Stallone action movie. Very disappointing.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 26, 2002
Ludlum is expected to do woinders all the times but not that it always is possible for him. Though this novel reads great, it has less intrigue and suspence than he had successfully created in his earlier works. Anyway, he is master writer, no doubt about it!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 10, 2001
Though this book had a very interesting and plausible premise (at least more so than most in this vein), I found it to be dissappointing in the end due to the outlandish characters. Having had experience with members of USAMRID, I find the characterizations to be typical pot-boiler tripe suitable only for a bad film, rather than a good read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 12, 2001
Posted August 15, 2001
This book was awesome. The best way to enjoy this book is to get some background information on the medical words in the book. It helps it all come together. the first pages were eye popping then it slows down but hang in there because soon it is fast paced and a great read!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.