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The Tristan Betrayal
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The Tristan Betrayal

3.7 23
by Robert Ludlum

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Moscow-a city under siege by hardcore Communists threatening to plunge the country back into Stalinist darkness. Into the heart of the firestorm, American ambassador Stephen Metcalf has been summoned to find the one man who controls the levers of power in absolute secrecy-an official known only as the Dirizhor. His support of the bloody coup will bring the entire


Moscow-a city under siege by hardcore Communists threatening to plunge the country back into Stalinist darkness. Into the heart of the firestorm, American ambassador Stephen Metcalf has been summoned to find the one man who controls the levers of power in absolute secrecy-an official known only as the Dirizhor. His support of the bloody coup will bring the entire world to the brink of nuclear war. Metcalfe is the only man with the cunning to reach him and to convince him to resist. It's up to Metcalf to change the course of history. He's done it before.

For Metcalf, returning to Russia is also a personal mission that will stretch across three continents and fifty years into his past where the loyalties of a former love-a woman both impossibly beautiful and possibly treacherous-were tested; where the shadow of a Nazi assassin still haunts; a debauched German aristocrat manipulated the destiny of everyone he touched. Now, as past and present converge, Metcalf braces himself for a new trial of trust and betrayal, one with chilling implications that could threaten what remains of the free world.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The author's death three years ago has not prevented St. Martin's from publishing recent material under his name. This WWII-era thriller opens in August 1991 as American ambassador Stephen Metcalfe arrives in Moscow, where Communist hard-liners are attempting to wrest control of Russia from the reform government. The fate of the country will be decided by an official known as the Dirizhor-the Conductor-and Metcalfe is the only man who can convince him to resist the forces of Stalinist darkness. Flash back to 1940, just after the Nazis have signed a nonaggression pact with the Russians. Young playboy/espionage agent Metcalfe is sent by American spymaster "Corky" Corcoran to the U.S.S.R. to enlist an old lover, Lana ("an extraordinary woman, impossibly beautiful, magnetic, passionate") in a scheme that if successful will change the course of history. Hot on Metcalfe's tail is assassin Kleist, a Nazi Secret Service agent who dispatches his enemies by garroting them with the E string of his violin. These principals and a host of others thrust and parry between Paris, Moscow and Berlin before a final confrontation in an enormous, mock factory fashioned of plywood and cleverly painted canvas. The factory, a bombing decoy, provides an apt metaphor for the book: a hollow, flimsy construct unable to hold the weight of a bloated plot and an army of cliched characters. All of Ludlum's trademarks are in evidence: one-sentence paragraphs, a plentitude of exclamation points, ridiculous dialogue ("Die, you bastard!") and the breathless use of italics to impart excitement, but in the end there are few surprises in this unsatisfying behemoth. Perhaps it's time to let the master rest in peace. (Oct. 28) Forecast: Ludlum's many fans may relish this gift from the grave, but others will find it thin fare, far from the author's best efforts. 750,000 first printing; major ad/promo campaign. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
To help win the war against the Nazis, Stephen Metcalfe must travel from occupied Paris to Moscow and make contact with a devious ballerina-who happens to be a former lover. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
From the ranks of dead bestselling authors comes yet another probable bestseller. So peaceful, the grave. No distractions, no need to keep up with the world. No pressure to update the information. No arguments with editors. This is how it must have been for Barbara Cartland in those last golden 50 years, when she was so practiced she simply dictated books from the comfort of one of her several Louis Quinze settees. In fact, a posthumous Ludlum reads almost like a manly Cartland. If there is a waist, it will be tiny. If there is a buttock, it will be tight. If there is a Vichy hostess, she will be a tart. And if there is a plot . . . . Well, of course there is a plot. This is, after all, a Ludlum, so there are layers upon layers of oh-so-reliably nasty Nazis and Bolsheviks against whom is pitted one rich handsome Ivy League polyglot straight-shooting Russo-Yank intelligence agent, Stephen Metcalfe, whose exciting impersonation of an Argentine playboy in Paris in 1940 is interrupted by an assignment to Moscow, where Metcalfe is to test the leanings of the debauched German aristocrat attached to the Reich's embassy to see if he might be turned. Or so Stephen has been told. But nothing is as it seems, for-and here the late hand of the master reaches for one of the great metaphors of '80s spycraft and its supporting literature-there are mirrors upon mirrors. The repulsive nobleman is currently the protector of Svetlana "Lana" Baranova, beautiful star of the Bolshoi and a Great Love among the many loves in Stephen's busy past. (Not out of his 20s, the lad seems never to have slept alone). As corpse after corpse falls in his path, some garroted by a sadistic (of course), violin-playing SSofficer with exceptional olfactories, some just blasted by the Bolsheviks, it dawns on Stephen that his masters are simply using him to get to Lana, who will herself be used. The fate of the democratic West is at stake! Nurse, another lap robe, there's a good girl. First printing of 750,000
From the Publisher

“One heck of a thriller...loaded with all the intrigue, paranoia, and real-life parallels that made Ludlum famous.” —People on The Janson Directive

“Finely crafted...the plot packs more twists than a Rold Gold factory.” —Entertainment Weekly on The Janson Directive

People on The Janson Directive

One heck of a thriller...loaded with all the intrigue, paranoia, and real-life parallels that made Ludlum famous.
Entertainment Weekly on The Janson Directive

Finely crafted...the plot packs more twists than a Rold Gold factory.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
Premium Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

Moscow, August 1991

The sleek black limousine, with its polycarbonate-laminate bullet-resistant windows and its run-flat tires, its high-tech ceramic armor and dual-hardness carbon-steel armor plate, was jarringly out of place as it pulled into the Bittsevsky forest in the southwest area of the city. This was ancient terrain, forest primeval, densely overgrown with birch and aspen groves interspersed with pine trees, elms, and maples; it spoke of nomadic Stone Age tribes that roamed the glacier-scarred terrain, hunting mammoths with hand-carved javelins, amid nature red in tooth and claw. Whereas the armored Lincoln Continental spoke of another kind of civilization entirely with another sort of violence, an era of snipers and terrorists wielding submachine guns and fragmentation grenades.

Moscow was a city under siege. It was the capital of a superpower on the brink of collapse. A cabal of Communist hard-liners was preparing to take back Russia from the forces of reform. Tens of thousands of troops filled the city, ready to fire at its citizens. Columns of tanks and armored personnel carriers rumbled down Kutuzovsky Prospekt and the Minskoye Chausse. Tanks surrounded Moscow City Hall, TV broadcasting facilities, newspaper offices, the parliament building. The radio was broadcasting nothing but the decrees of the cabal, which called itself the State Committee for the State of Emergency. After years of progress toward democracy, the Soviet Union was on the verge of being retumed to the dark forces of totalitarianism.

Inside the limousine sat an elderly man, silver-haired, with handsome, aristocratic features. He was Ambassador Stephen Metcalfe, an icon of the American Establishment, an adviser to five Presidents since Franklin D. Roosevelt, an extremely wealthy man who had devoted his life to serving his government. Ambassador Metcalfe, though now retired, the title purely honorific, had been urgently summoned to Moscow by an old friend who was highly placed in the inner circles of Soviet power. He and his old friend had not met face-to-face for decades: their relationship was a deeply buried secret, known to no one in Moscow or Washington. That his Russian friend-code-named "Kurwenal"--insisted on a rendezvous in this deserted location was worrying, but these were worrying times.

Lost in thought, visibly nervous, the old man got out of his limousine only once he glimpsed the figure of his friend, the three-star general, limping heavily on a prosthetic leg. The American's seasoned eyes scanned the forest as he
began to walk, and then his blood ran cold.

He detected a watcher in the trees. A second, a third! Surveillance. He and the Russian code--named Kurwenal--had just been spotted!

This would be a disaster for them both!

Metcalfe wanted to call out to his old friend, to warn him, but then he noticed the glint of a scoped rifle in the late-afternoon sun. It was an ambush!

Terrified, the elderly ambassador spun around and loped as quickly as his arthritic limbs would take him back toward his armored limousine. He had no bodyguard; he never traveled with one. He had only his driver, an unarmed American marine supplied by the embassy.

Suddenly men were running toward him from all around. Black-uniformed men in black paramilitary berets, bearing machine guns. They surrounded him and he began to struggle, but he was no longer a young man, as he had to keep reminding himself. Was this a kidnapping? Was he being taken hostage? He shouted hoarsely to his driver.

The black-clad men escorted Metcalfe to another armored limousine, a Russian ZIL. Frightened, he climbed into the passenger compartment. There, already seated, was the three-star general.

"What the hell is this?" Metcalfe croaked, his panic subsiding.

"My deepest apologies," replied the Russian. "These are hazardous, unstable times, and I could not take the chance of anything happening to you, even here in the woods. These are my men, under my command, and they're trained in counterterrorist measures. You are far too important an individual to expose to any dangers."

Metcalfe shook the Russian's hand. The general was eighty years old, his hair white, though his profile remained hawklike. He nodded at the driver, and the car began to move.

"I thank you for coming to Moscow--I realize my urgent summons must have struck you as cryptic."

"I knew it had to be about the coup," Metcalfe said.

"Matters are developing more rapidly than anticipated," the Russian said in a low voice. "They have secured the blessing of the man known as the Dirizhor--the Conductor. It may already be too late to stop the seizure of power."

"My friends in the White House are watching with great concern. But they feel paralyzed--the consensus in the National Security Council seems to be that to intervene might be to risk nuclear war."

"An apt fear. These men are desperate to overthrow the Gorbachev regime. They will resort to anything. You've seen the tanks on the streets of Moscow--now all that remains is for the conspirators to order their forces to strike. To attack civilians. It will be a bloodbath. Thousands will be killed! But the orders to strike will not be issued unless the Dirizhor gives his approval. Everything hangs on him--he is the linchpin."

"But he's not one of the plotters?"

"No. As you know, he's the ultimate insider, a man who controls the levers of power in absolute secrecy. He will never appear at a news conference; he acts in stealth. But he is in sympathy with the coup plotters. Without his support, the coup must fail. With his support, the coup will surely succeed. And Russia will once again become a Stalinist dictatorship--and the world will be at the brink of nuclear war."

"Why did you call me here?" asked Metcalfe. "Why me?"

The general turned to face Metcalfe, and in his eyes Metcalfe could see fear. "Because you're the only one I trust. And you're the only one who has a chance of reaching him. The Dirizhor."

"And why will the Dirizhor listen to me?"

"I think you know," said the Russian quietly. "You can change history, my friend. After all, we both know you did it before."

Copyright 2003 by Robert Ludlum

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.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
May 25, 1927
Date of Death:
March 12, 2001
Place of Death:
Naples, Florida
B.A., Wesleyan University, 1951

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The Tristan Betrayal 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
From the very start, this book was badly written. Plot was lame and read like a script for a b-rate movie. Too much going on with too little substance and very predictable. Couldn't believe i was reading a Ludlum until i read on the front cover that the estate had chosen a writer to prepare and edit this book and i thot 'No wonder!!' Nothing like any other ludlum i've read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This extremely poor attempt to write from notes made by Ludlum left me disgusted and wondering why the publishers and editors allowed it to go to print. This reflects poorly on a great writer's reputation. There is nothing about this that reflects Ludlum's style of rhetoric. Obviously, the editors were hoping to cash-in on the Ludlum reputation, using a second-rate writer. My high school students could do as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having read all of Ludlum's novels, one comes to expect depth of character, unusual and non-linear story lines, exotic locales and an edgy, breathless pace right up to the conclusion, none of which is present in this drab, boring and thoroughly predictable novel from whomever was commissioned to piece this together. Obviously someone with barely a passing aquaintance with Ludlum's trademark literary characteristics. The setting, the world war two era, is one in which previous Ludlum novels have engaged us with relentless excitement. This one is so pedantic and so badly written that one finds it hard to care at all about any of the characters, none of whom have the depth of development in previous novels. The king is dead. Leave him alone. This book is reminiscent of the poor attempts to ressurect James Bond by the post Ian Fleming wannabes.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This makes 7 Bobby L books, well wait 6.5 Rob L books I've read because I only got through half of this mess. I recommend all of his other books, the ones he wrote himself that is. Tristan Betrayal does not represent the genius of Robert Ludlum.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A very entertaining book. If you like Ludlum, you'll most likely enjoy this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was great. It was suspenseful and interesting. Also it has a beautiful but sad ending.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bone-chilling, over-the-edge, an on the edge thriller with suspense filled episodes sure to keep you awake until you finish. You feel the weather, hear the sounds and jump when a garrote goes around your neck....a must read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Even dead he writes better thrillers than most!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been a fan of all of Ludlum's wonderful stories. He was a master in thrillers with twists apon twists. The action was always fast paced with great characters. Whoever has written this story got close to the masters work, but the flip flop between different times was very weak almost pathic. Paul Michael presentation and his characters do keep your attention and give some entertainment. Pher haps the Ludlum family shall find a new writter who can stay more in the Ludlum fashion
Guest More than 1 year ago
Book is wonderful, and although it has a slow pick up and some dips in the 'plot mountains', it is overall really good, and will keep you guessing till the end. Excellent, and an 'unable to put down' read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
They say this is only first of the many Ludlum manuscripts he left when he passed away to be polished by other authors and then published under Ludlum's name. This writer whoever he is, somewhat differ from Ludlum's style of writing as manifested already in The Janson Directive. Although he still retain some of Ludlum's trademarks: one-sentence paragraph, italics, exclamation points, etc. He can write stand alone novels of his own. Lets's admit it, Ludlum was not a gifted wordsmith, but when it comes to convuluted, shifting plots upon plot twist and grabbing one's attention for hours or gluing you to your seat, Ludlum remains top, he's superb. In The Tristan Betrayal, Ludlum takes us back to the time and storyline in which he was famous for: World War II. Remember The Scarlatti Inheritance, The Rhinemann Exchange, The Gemini Contenders and even The Holcroft Covenant. This book has good storyline/plot but few surprises. Sad to say Ludlum's not around to polished this mammoth thriller and to give it more surprises and twists and an ending only he can deliver.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Applauded for the topnotch vocal performances he always delivers, Paul Michael again demonstrates just what a pro he is with a superb delivery of a rather overwrought, weighty tome. Although Robert Ludlum, noted author of The Bourne Identity, died in 2001 books continue to appear under his name. This is one more thriller with more twists than a back country road. Set in 1991, our story opens in Moscow with the arrival of American Ambassador Robert Metcalfe. Communists are fighting for control of the government, and the man who will call the shots is named the conductor. It's Metcalfe's task to enlist him on the side of truth and right. Of course, there's a psychopathic assassin on Metcalfe's heels - a nasty type who strangles his victims with a violin string. And, also of course, there's romance with a beautiful woman (surprise?). Listeners are treated to chases across Europe as well as the possibility of history-changing events. Narrator Paul Michael gets an A+. As for plot: while many Ludlum fans may be happy, methinks the plot line merits only a C.