Robert Ludlum's The Paris Option (Covert-One Series #3)

Robert Ludlum's The Paris Option (Covert-One Series #3)

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by Robert Ludlum, Gayle Lynds, Gayle Lynds
     
 

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For 30 years, Robert Ludlum's novels have set the standard for the finest in international intrigue and suspense. With an unbroken string of bestsellers in almost every country in the world, Robert Ludlum's books have been enjoyed by hundreds of millions of readers, and are widely acknowledged as classics in the field. Now, after the bestselling Covert-One novels

Overview

For 30 years, Robert Ludlum's novels have set the standard for the finest in international intrigue and suspense. With an unbroken string of bestsellers in almost every country in the world, Robert Ludlum's books have been enjoyed by hundreds of millions of readers, and are widely acknowledged as classics in the field. Now, after the bestselling Covert-One novels The Hades Factor and The Cassandra Compact comes the third thrilling novel in the series - The Paris Option.

A fiery explosion in the dark of night shatters one of the laboratory buildings in Paris's esteemed Pasteur Institute. Among the dead is Emile Chambord, one of the leaders in the global race to create a molecular - or DNA - computer. Unfortunately, Professor Chambord kept the details of his work secret, and his notes were apparently destroyed in either the bomb blast or the raging fire that followed.

The scientific community does not expect a workable DNA computer to be developed for years. But suddenly U.S. fighter jets disappear from radar screens for a full five minutes, and there's no explanation. Utilities across the Western states cease functioning, and all telecommunications abruptly stop, with devastating consequences. This is not the work of a clever hacker, although Washington, worried about a panic, assures the public it is. Only the enormous power and speed of a DNA computer could have caused such havoc.

Under the cover of visiting his friend Marty Zellerbach, who was severely injured when the Pasteur lab was destroyed, Covert-One agent Jon Smith flies to Paris to search for the connection between the Pasteur explosion and the forces now wielding the computer. Following a trail that leads him across two continents, Smith uncovers a web of deception that threatens to wreck havoc and forever reshape the world.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Ludlum is light years beyond his literary competition in piling plot twist upon plot twist, until the mesmerized reader is held captive...[He] dominates the field in strong, tightly plotted, adventure-drenched thrillers. Ludlum pulls out all the stops and dazzles his readers.” —Chicago Tribune

“Ludlum stuffs more surprises into his novels than any other six pack of thriller writers combined.” —The New York Times

“Reading a Ludlum novel is like watching a James Bond film.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Welcome to Robert Ludlum's world...fast pacing, tight plotting, international intrigue.” —The Plain Dealer

“Robert Ludlum is the master of gripping, fast-moving intrigue. He is unsurpassed at weaving a tapestry of stunningly diverse figures, then assembling them in a sequence so gripping that the reader's attention never wavers.” —The Daily Oklahoman

“Don't ever begin a Ludlum novel if you have to go to work the next day.” —Chicago Sun-Times

“If a Pulitzer Prize were awarded for escapist fiction, Robert Ludlum undoubtedly would have won it. Ten times over.” —Mobile Register

“An exciting medical-military thriller that moves at a rapid pace to its climax...an exciting new series.” —Midwest Book Review

“A pop hit...that should bounce right up the bestseller lists.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Gripping...robust writing and a breakneck pace.” —Boston Herald

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780007101719
Publisher:
Gardners Books
Publication date:
08/19/2002
Series:
Covert-One Series , #3

Read an Excerpt

Robert Ludlum's The Paris Option

A Covert-One Novel


By Robert Ludlum, Gayle Lynds

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2002 Myn Pyn LLC
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-312-38171-4


CHAPTER 1

Diego Garcia Island, Indian Ocean


At 0654 hours at the vital U.S. Army, Air Force, and Naval installation on Diego Garcia, the officer commanding the shift at the control tower was gazing out the windows as the morning sun illuminated the warm blue waters of Emerald Bay on the lagoon side of the U-shaped atoll and wishing he were off duty. His eyes blinked slowly, and his mind wandered.

The U.S. Navy Support Facility, the host command for this strategically located, operationally invaluable base, kept all of them busy with its support of sea, air, and surface flight operations. The payback was the island itself, a remote place of sweeping beauty, where the easy rhythms of routine duty lulled ambition.

He was seriously contemplating a long swim the instant he was off duty when, one minute later, at 0655 hours, the control tower lost contact with the base's entire airborne fleet of B-1B, B-52, AWACS, P-3 Orion, and U-2 aircraft, on a variety of missions that included hot-button reconnaissance and antisubmarine and surveillance support.

The tropical lagoon vanished from his mind. He bawled orders, pushed a technician from one of the consoles, and started diagnostics. Everyone's attention was riveted on the dials, readouts, and screens as they battled to regain contact.

Nothing helped. At 0658, in a controlled panic, he alerted the base's commanding officer.

At 0659, the commanding officer informed the Pentagon.

Then, oddly, inexplicably, at 0700, five minutes after they had mysteriously disappeared, all communications with the aircraft returned at the precise same second.


Fort Collins, Colorado

Monday, May 5


As the sun rose over the vast prairie to the east, the rustic Foothills Campus of Colorado State University glowed with golden light. Here in a state-of-the-art laboratory in a nondescript building, Jonathan ("Jon") Smith, M.D., peered into a binocular microscope and gently moved a finely drawn glass needle into position. He placed an imperceptible drop of fluid onto a flat disk so small that it was no larger than the head of a pin. Under the high-resolution microscope, the plate bore a striking — and seemingly impossible — resemblance to a circuit board.

Smith made an adjustment, bringing the image more clearly into focus. "Good," he muttered, and smiled. "There's hope."

An expert in virology and molecular biology, Smith was also an army medical officer — in fact, a lieutenant colonel — temporarily stationed here amid the towering pines and rolling foothills of Colorado at this Centers for Disease Control (CDC) facility. On unofficial loan from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), he was assigned basic research into evolving viruses.

Except that viruses had nothing to do with the delicate work he was watching through the microscope this dawn. USAMRIID was the army's foremost military medical research facility, while the CDC was its highly touted civilian counterpart. Usually they were vigorous rivals. But not here, not now, and the work being done in this laboratory had only a peripheral connection to medicine.

Smith was part of a little-known CDC-USAMRIID research team in a worldwide race to create the world's first molecular — or DNA — computer, therefore forging an unprecedented bond between life science and computational science. The concept intrigued the scientist in Smith and challenged his expertise in the field of microbiology. In fact, what had brought him into his lab at this ungodly early hour was what he hoped would turn out to be a breakthrough in the molecular circuits based on special organic polymers that he and the other researchers had been working night and day to create.

If successful, their brand-new DNA circuits could be reconfigured many times, taking the joint team one step closer to rendering silicon, the key ingredient in the wiring of current computer circuit boards, obsolete. Which was just as well. The computer industry was near the limits of silicon technology anyway, while biological compounds offered a logical — although difficult — next step. When DNA computers could be made workable, they would be vastly more powerful than the general public could conceive, which was where the army's, and USAMRIID's, interests came in.

Smith was fascinated by the research, and as soon as he had heard rumors of the secret joint CDC-USAMRIID project, he had arranged to be invited aboard, eagerly throwing himself into this technological competition where the future might be only an atom away.

"Hey, Jon." Larry Schulenberg, another of the project's top cell biologists, rolled into the empty laboratory in his wheelchair. "Did you hear about the Pasteur?"

Smith looked up from his microscope. "Hell, I didn't even hear you open the door." Then he noticed Larry's somber face. "The Pasteur," he repeated. "Why? What's happened?" Like USAMRIID and the CDC, the Pasteur Institute was a world-class research complex.

In his fifties, Schulenberg was a tan, energetic man with a shaved head, one small diamond earring, and shoulders that were thickly muscled from years of using crutches. His voice was grim. "Some kind of explosion. It's bad. People were killed." He peeled a sheet from the stack of printouts on his lap.

Jon grabbed the paper. "My God. How did it happen? A lab accident?"

"The French police don't think so. Maybe a bomb. They're checking out former employees." Larry wheeled his chair around and headed back to the door. "Figured you'd want to know. Jim Thrane at Porton Down e-mailed me, so I downloaded the story. I've got to go see who else is here. Everyone will want to know."

"Thanks." As the door closed, Smith read quickly. Then, his stomach sinking, he reread ...


Labs at Pasteur Institute Destroyed

Paris — A massive explosion killed at least 12 people and shattered a three-story building housing offices and laboratories at the venerable Pasteur Institute at 10:52 p.m. here last night. Four survivors in critical condition were found. The search continues in the rubble for other victims.

Fire investigators say they have found evidence of explosives. No person or group has claimed responsibility. The probe is continuing, including checking into recently released employees.

The identified survivors include Martin Zellerbach, Ph.D., a computer scientist from the United States, who suffered head injuries....


Smith's heart seemed to stop. Martin Zellerbach, Ph.D., a computer scientist from the United States, who suffered head injuries. Marty? His old friend's face flashed into Jon's mind as he gripped the printout. The crooked smile, the intense green eyes that could twinkle one moment and skitter off, lost in thought or perhaps outer space, the next. A small, rotund man who walked awkwardly, as if he had never really learned how to move his legs, Marty had Asperger's Syndrome, a rare disorder at the less severe end of the autism spectrum. His symptoms included consuming obsessions, high intelligence, crippling lack of social and communications skills, and an outstanding talent in one particular area — mathematics and electronics. He was, in fact, a computer genius.

A worried ache settled in Smith's throat. Head injuries. How badly was Marty hurt? The news story did not say. Smith pulled out his cell phone, which had special scrambler capabilities, and dialed Washington.

He and Marty had grown up together in Iowa, where he had protected Marty from the taunts of fellow students and even a few teachers who had a hard time believing anyone so smart was not being intentionally rude and a troublemaker. Marty's Asperger's was diagnosed when he was older and at last he was given the medication that helped him function with both feet firmly attached to the planet. Still, Marty hated taking meds and had designed his life so he could avoid them as often as possible. He did not leave his cozy Washington, D.C., bungalow for years at a time. There he was safe with the cutting-edge computers and the software he was always designing, and his mind and creativity could soar, unfettered. Businessmen, academicians, and scientists from around the globe went there to consult him, but never in person, only electronically.

So what was the shy computer wizard doing in Paris?

The last time Marty consented to leave was eighteen months ago, and it was far from gentle persuasion that convinced him. It was a hail of bullets and the beginning of the near catastrophe of the Hades virus that had caused the death of Smith's fiancée, Sophia Russell.

The phone at Smith's ear began to ring in distant Washington, D.C., and at the same time he heard what sounded like a cell phone ringing just outside his laboratory door. He had an eerie sense ...

"Hello?" It was the voice of Nathaniel Frederick ("Fred") Klein.

Smith turned abruptly and stared at his door. "Come in, Fred."

The chief of the extremely secret Covert-One intelligence and counterintelligence troubleshooting organization stepped into the laboratory, quiet as a ghost, still holding his cell phone. "I should've guessed you would've heard and called me." He turned off his phone.

"About Mart? Yes, I just read about the Pasteur. What do you know, and what are you doing here?"

Without answering, Klein marched past the gleaming test tubes and equipment that crowded the line of lab benches, which soon would be occupied by other CDC-USAMRIID researchers and assistants. He stopped at Smith's bench, lifted his left hip, and sat on the edge of the stone top, arms crossed, face grim. Around six feet tall, he was dressed as usual in one of his rumpled suits, this one brown. His skin was pale; it rarely saw the sun for any length of time. The great outdoors was not where Fred Klein operated. With his receding hairline, wire-rimmed glasses, and high, intelligent forehead, he could be anything from book publisher to counterfeiter.

He contemplated Smith, and his voice was compassionate as he said, "Your friend's alive, but he's in a coma. I won't lie to you, Colonel. The doctors are worried."

For Smith, the dark pain of Sophia's death could still weigh heavily on him, and Marty's injury was bringing it all back. But Sophia was gone, and what mattered now was Marty.

"What the hell was he doing at the Pasteur?"

Klein took his pipe from his pocket and brought out his tobacco pouch. "Yes, we wondered about that, too."

Smith started to speak again ... then hesitated. Invisible to the public and to any part of the government except the White House, Covert-One worked totally outside the official military-intelligence bureaucracy and far from the scrutiny of Congress. Its shadowy chief never appeared unless something earthshaking had happened or might happen. Covert-One had no formal organization or bureaucracy, no real headquarters, and no official operatives. Instead, it was loosely composed of professional experts in many fields, all with clandestine experience, most with military backgrounds, and all essentially unencumbered — without family, home ties, or obligations, either temporary or permanent.

When called upon, Smith was one of those elite operatives.

"You're not here because of Marty," Smith decided. "It's the Pasteur. Something's going on. What?"

"Let's take a walk outside." Klein pushed his glasses up onto his forehead and tamped tobacco into his pipe.

"You can't light that here," Smith told him. "DNA can be contaminated by airborne particles."

Klein sighed. "Just one more reason to go outdoors."

Fred Klein — and Covert-One — trusted no one and nothing, took nothing for granted. Even a laboratory that officially did not exist could be bugged, which, Smith knew, was the real reason Klein wanted to leave. He followed the intelligence master out into the hall and locked his door. Side by side, they made their way downstairs, past dark labs and offices that showed only occasional light. The building was silent except for the breathy hum of the giant ventilation system.

Outside, the dawn sunlight slanted low against the fir trees, illuminating them on the east with shimmering light while on the west they remained tarry black, in shadows. High above the campus to the west towered the Rocky Mountains, their rough peaks glowing. The valleys that creased the slopes were purple with night's lingering darkness. The aromatic scent of pine filled the air.

Klein walked a dozen steps from the building and stopped to fire up his pipe. He puffed and tamped until clouds of smoke half-hid his face. He waved some of the smoke away.

"Let's walk." As they headed toward the road, Klein said, "Talk to me about your work here. How's it going? Are you close to creating a molecular computer?"

"I wish. The research is going well, but it's slow. Complex."

Governments around the world wanted to be the first to have a working DNA computer, because it would be able to break any code or encryption in a matter of seconds. A terrifying prospect, especially where defense was concerned. All of America's missiles, secret systems at NSA, the NRO's spy satellites, the entire ability of the navy to operate, all defense plans — anything and everything that relied on electronics would be at the mercy of the first molecular computer. Even the largest silicon supercomputer would not be able to stop it.

"How soon before the planet sees an operational one?" Klein wanted to know.

"Several years," Smith said without hesitation, "maybe more."

"Who's the closest?"

"Practical and operational? No one I've heard of."

Klein smoked, tamped down his burning tobacco again. "If I said someone had already done it, who'd you guess?"

Precursor prototypes had been built, coming closer to practicality each year, but an actual, complete success? That was at least five years away. Unless ... Takeda? Chambord?

Then Smith knew. Since Klein was here, the clue was the Pasteur. "Émile Chambord. Are you saying Chambord is years ahead of the rest of us? Even ahead of Takeda in Tokyo?"

"Chambord probably died in the explosion." Klein puffed on his pipe, his expression worried. "His lab was completely destroyed. Nothing left but shattered bricks, singed wood, and broken glass. They've checked his home, his daughter. Looked everywhere. His car was in the Pasteur parking lot, but they can't find him. There's talk."

"Talk? There's always talk."

"This is different. It comes from top French military circles, from colleagues, from his superiors."

"If Chambord were that near, there'd be more than talk. Someone knew."

"Not necessarily. The military checked in with him regularly, but he claimed he was no farther along than anyone else. As for the Pasteur itself, a senior researcher of Chambord's stature and tenure doesn't have to report to anyone."

Smith nodded. This anachronism was true at the renowned institute. "What about his notes? Records? Reports?"

"Nothing from the last year. Zero."

"No records?" Smith's voice rose. "There have to be. They're probably in the Pasteur's data bank. Don't tell me the entire computer system was destroyed."

"No, the mainframe's fine. It's located in a bombproof room, but he hadn't entered any data in it for more than a year."

Smith scowled. "He was keeping longhand records?"

"If he kept any at all."

"He had to keep records. You can't do basic research without complete data. Lab notes, progress sheets. Your records have to be scrupulous, or your work can't be verified or reproduced. Every blind alley, every mistake, every backtrack has to be chronicled. Dammit, if he wasn't saving his data in the computer, he had to be keeping it longhand. That's certain."

"Maybe it is, Jon, but so far neither the Pasteur nor the French authorities have found any records at all, and believe me, they've been looking. Hard."

Smith thought. Longhand? Why? Could Chambord have gotten protective once he realized he was close to success? "You figure he knew or suspected he was being watched by someone inside the institute?"

"The French, and everyone else, don't know what to think," Klein said.

"He was working alone?"

"He had a low-level lab assistant who's on vacation. The French police are searching for him." Klein stared toward the east, where the sun was higher now, a giant disk above the prairie. "And we think Dr. Zellerbach was working with him, too."

"You think?"

"Whatever Dr. Zellerbach was doing appears to have been completely unofficial, almost secret. He's listed only as a 'general observer' with Pasteur security. After the bombing, the police immediately went to his hotel room but found nothing useful. He lived out of one suitcase, and he made no friends either there or at the Pasteur. The police were surprised by how few people actually recalled him."

Smith nodded. "That's Marty." His reclusive old friend would have insisted on remaining as anonymous as possible. At the same time, a molecular computer that was near fruition was one of the few projects that might have seduced him from his determined isolation in Washington. "When he regains consciousness, he'll tell you what Chambord's progress was."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Robert Ludlum's The Paris Option by Robert Ludlum, Gayle Lynds. Copyright © 2002 Myn Pyn LLC. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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.

Meet the Author


Robert Ludlum (1927-2001) was the author of 25 thriller novels, including The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum--the books on which the international hit movies were based--and The Sigma Protocol. He was also the creator of the Covert-One series. Born in New York City, Ludlum received a B.A. from Wesleyan University, and before becoming an author, he was a United States Marine, a theater actor and producer.

Gayle Lynds is the bestselling, award-winning author of several international espionage thrillers, including Masquerade, The Coil, and The Last Spymaster. A member of the Association for Intelligence Officers, she is cofounder (with David Morrell) of ITW (International Thriller Writers). She lives in Santa Barbara.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
May 25, 1927
Date of Death:
March 12, 2001
Place of Death:
Naples, Florida
Education:
B.A., Wesleyan University, 1951
Website:
http://www.ludlumbooks.com/

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3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have all of Robert Ludlum's novels and have enjoyed them immensely. I cannot say that of this book. Robert Ludlum may have created the Covert One series, but he surely had little to do with this novel. I had a problem with some of the relationships within this book. First, the characters 'Jon Smith' and 'Fred Klein' have appeared in each of the Covert One novels. Since Smith is supposed to work for Klein, Smith would show some deference towards Klein. That is how I would expect a Ludlum book to be writen, but not this novel. Klein comes accross as Smith's lackey and somewhat of a clownish figure. Another relationship that appears in all of the Covert One novels is that between the characters 'Smith' and 'Zellerbach.' They have been portrayed as close friends however, the relationship in this novel takes a somewhat perverse twist when Zellerbach is in the hospital in a coma and Smith is messaging Zellerbach's feet! This is something most guys would have a hard time envisioning. The author Lynds also seems to have a hard time defining the roles between NSA, NASA, and the president's national security advisor. Perhaps all of the Ns, Ss, and As were too overwelming. I would recommend Miss Lynds review Dan Browns novels for an overview of the roles each of those functions. Miss Lynds might also take a harder look at our military's senior commanders...the Army's Chief of Staff is a general (four star), not a lieutenant general (three star). The same is true of the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Finally, who says 'damnation?' Lynds seems to be fond of this word since it appears so often at the lips of many different characters. This could have been a very entertaining novel, but Lynds managed to insert so many annoying things (see above) that my attention kept being distracted. I do not think I will buy another novel with her name on it.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Robert Ludlum has always told tales that seemed light years ahead of their time, but as history has unfolded, so have the possibilities his novels have predicted. Here is another deadly plot that haunts our future in today's war on terrorism: a warning if you will. For this reason alone, the book deserves five stars, but it is also espionage at its most intriguing and heart-pounding pace. Once started, you can't put it down!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Who really wrote this novel? The story is smothered by endless and unnecessary adjectives. A possible interesting and exciting plot is constantly distracted by countless descriptions which continue to interrupt the movement of the storyline. The book is overwhelmed by a travelogue of tedious trivia. I have always loved and enjoyed most of Robert Ludlum's other books, but this novel is disappointing to me.
johnwillie More than 1 year ago
A easy reading book with great suspence
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Of all the Covert One authors I find Ms Lynds to be the best She develops the story and characters without letting one dominate the other
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hmmmmmmmmmm. Not a bad book if u are not truly a ludlum fan. You can easily tell that he had NO hand in writing ANY of the books that list a second author. This book contains only his characters not his writing style. Overall not a bad book but nothing close to what ludlum achieves. Not boring. So i would say go ahead and read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
rmd270 More than 1 year ago
This was my first read of this author pair (Ludlum & Lynds) and I was very impressed. An immersive story with fast paced action and great characters. A good mix of cloak and dagger coupled with a very exciting high tech slant. Story plot centers around the teaming of a CIA, MI6 and Covert One (US) agencies as they battle the against a NATO team of insurgents with ties to Middle Eastern and Basque groups. I looked forward to reading more Covert One stories from this pair
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MitchRapp36 More than 1 year ago
I am a big Ludlum fan and have now read the first three of the covert one series. I will soon start the fourth. I highly recommend these books to anyone who likes a good thriller.
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