Robert Ludlum

Robert Ludlum, (1927 – 2001), author of twenty-five thriller novels, is perhaps best known for the Bourne Identity Trilogy.  An actor early in his career, he was a master of dramatic technique, and used identity as his primary tool in this hugely successful series.  A new novel by Jeremy Chester, Smoke, has been favorably compared to the Robert Ludlum series in that the protagonist in this book has a multi-dimensional identity problem of his own.   Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne at the beginning doesn’t know his own identity and spends much of the time trying to discover it.  Smoke, the Justice Department code name for the protagonist within the novel, thinks he knows his identity, which has been erased under the auspices of the Federal Witness Protection Program, but as becomes obvious within the first pages, has been uncovered by someone wanting him dead.  As with Ludlum’s series, new clues keep emerging in that serve to increase the level and immediacy of the threat, as well as the confusion as to his real identity.

Readers of thrillers will enjoy Smoke, an apt title for a novel about a man whose identity is as uncertain as rising smoke on a windy day, but can be terrifying under certain circumstances.  The central character is a former marine, having served two tours in Viet Nam as a platoon sergeant within a Marine Recon Company, just as comfortable operating behind enemy lines as anywhere else.  But while both authors use Viet Nam as a background, this novel takes place in Miami and Central America.

Another overlap between the Jason Bourne series and Chester’s novel is the complicity of government agencies in extra-judicial behavior.  With Ludlum, it is the frequently used CIA, but in this novel, it is the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which has caused part of the identity confusion by putting Smoke into the Federal Witness Protection Program, only to lose control due to leaks within the Justice Department itself.

Want to read a a novel similar to those of Robert Ludlum? Get your copy of Smoke today!