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Robert Ludlum's The Hades Factor (Covert-One Series #1)

Robert Ludlum's The Hades Factor (Covert-One Series #1)

4.1 75
by Robert Ludlum (Created by), Michael Prichard (Read by), Gayle Lynds

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

After a several-year hiatus, Robert Ludlum, the master of the international espionage thriller, delivers the first in his Covert One series. Written in collaboration with suspense novelist Gayle Lynds, The Hades Factor introduces Col. Jonathan Smith, a doctor with the U.S. Army's Research Institute of Infectious Disease, who engages in a desperate race against a terrifying and deadly contagion.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In his first book since 1997's The Matarese Countdown, onetime thriller superstar Ludlum teams up with Lynds (Masquerade; Mosaic) for a lackluster trade paperback original, the first volume in a Tom Clancy-like series called "Covert-One." The novel stars ace doctor (and former military spook) Lt. Col. Jonathan Smith, who now works for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick, Md. We first meet Dr. Smith in London, where a childhood friend and rogue FBI agent warns him not to get involved in USAMRIID's latest investigation; the institute is looking into the baffling deaths from an unknown killer virus of three people in three widely separated states. But Smith's colleague and wife-to-be, Dr. Sophia Russell, is already trying to link the virus with a mysterious disease that decimated the Monkey Blood tribe she had worked with during her student days in Peru. What she doesn't know is that the slickly evil scientist who investigated the virus then is now the head of a giant chemical company with links to Third World terrorism. When Russell herself falls victim to the virus early on, Smith must forge ahead with the assistance of her sister, Randi, a CIA agent in Baghdad. Ludlum and Lynds keep things moving at a capable pace, but the familiar plot and uninspired writing (Smith "wore his restlessness like another man wore his skin") do little to foment interest in future installments on the series. (June) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
Veteran bestseller Ludlum (The Apocalypse Watch, 1995, etc.) takes on a co-author for his new trade paperback series. Lynds (Mosaic, 1998, etc.) has had a calming effect on the Ludlum lust for overexclamatory prose and high body counts—although potentially millions will die here if the mysterious new virus weirdly popping up in unrelated pockets of the States isn't identified and a cure found to reverse its fast, horrible effects. Colonel Jon Smith, an Army doctor and virologist with the US Army Medical Institute for Infectious Diseases, is in his early 40s and truly in love for the first time. His fiancée, cellular and molecular biologist Dr. Sophia Russell, often works down in Level Four of the Hot Zone at Fort Detrick, Maryland. Sophia leads a team looking into an amazing new virus that has simultaneously struck down an Army major in California, a homeless man in Boston, and a teenaged girl in Atlanta, all suffering the same symptoms and speedy death from lungs filled with blood. Twelve years ago, Sophia accompanied Dr. Victor Tremont into the wilds of Peru, where the natives successfully fought this same virus by drinking the blood of monkeys that had survived infection. When she calls Tremont to verify this, he lies and says he remembers no such thing. Then thugs enter Sophia's lab while she's working late, rifle her files, and jab her with the virus. With a great cloud over his heart, Jon seeks his dead fiancée's killers—although he's warned off the chase by a former FBI agent and college buddy who knows more about the virus than he should. Suddenly millions of unwitting victims have ingested a slow-acting form of it and will dieunlessgiven monkey-blood serum. Even with Ludlum's urge to italicize and slam down double exclams kept under iron control, the new team still has a pop hit on their hands that should bounce right up the bestseller lists.

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

Books on Tape, Inc.
Publication date:
Covert-One Series , #1

Read an Excerpt

The Hades Factor

By Robert Ludlum

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2000 Robert Ludlum
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0312264372

Chapter One

7:14 P.M., Friday, October 10 Boston, Massachusetts

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.

Meet the Author

Robert Ludlum 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
B.A., Wesleyan University, 1951

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Robert Ludlum's The Hades Factor (Covert-One Series #1) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 74 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this and look forward to other novels with the McRyan character.
charwat More than 1 year ago
This one kept me guessing till the very end. Lots of twists and surprises. A thoroughly enjoyable thriller
avidreaderSU More than 1 year ago
I have always been a fan of Robert Ludlum. His stories are fast paced and the technology he interjects is believable. Good character development.
Sir_Nice_Guy More than 1 year ago
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!
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This was thi first book by Robert Ludlum I read this book is very interesting I can NOT WAIT UNTIL I BUY THE OTHER 22 BOOKS READABLE ON THE NOOK!!!!!!!!
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retiredncreader More than 1 year ago
This is not Ludlum at his best. The characters are shallow and the plot unbelievable; however, the book keeps drawing me back into the plot.
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