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The Tristan Betrayal
By Robert Ludlum

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The Tristan Betrayal

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The Tristan Betrayal
By Robert Ludlum
Thorndike Press - Large Print Edition (2004)
ISBN: 0-7862-5628-1
Genre: Thriller

Reviewed by Sheldon Ztvordokov - April 25, 2005

Robert Ludlum is the king of the thriller genre, and even after death he has managed to maintain his throne. The Tristan Betrayal is one of Ludlum's many books that has been published since his death. It is difficult to tell how much of this book was actually written by Ludlum and how much was contributed by a co-author or editor. No matter how this book was completed - it is thoroughly a Ludlum book, both in terms of story line and in how the book was written.

Although The Tristan Betrayal starts in 1991, the story quickly jumps back to 1940, and thereafter oscillates between the present and the dark days of World War II. The story revolves around the Nazi's nonaggression treaty with the Soviet Union, which is juxtaposed against modern Russia where Stalinist hardliners are trying to retake control of the Russian government. The factor that joins these two events is Stephen Metcalfe. Currently retired, he had served as the American ambassador to the Soviet Union, but during World War II he was a young spy upon whose shoulders fell the task of turning the Soviets against the Nazis. His job is to do this by planting false papers that are suppose to tempt Hitler into invading the Soviet Union.

To turn the Soviets against their Nazi allies, Metcalfe travels to Moscow to enlist the aid of a former lover, Lana. She is a ballerina and current mistress of a high-ranking Nazi. Metcalfe needs Lana's help in order to set his plans in motion. When things fall apart, Metcalfe finds himself being hunted by a dastardly Nazi assassin, who likes to garrote his victims. In typical Ludlum fashion, Metcalfe must use all his wits and spy craft to save himself. As well, he must prevent the Stalinist takeover of modern day Russia. This is a subplot which is not very well fleshed out, but which provides some respite from the hard-hitting action of the 1940's story line.

In short, The Tristan Betrayal is a quick paced, seat-of-your-pants thriller that races across Europe. Along the way an inordinate number of people are killed, Metcalfe manages to extricate himself from improbable situations, and he manages to 'make a difference' in the outcome of the war. This is not a high-brow literary read, nor is it meant to be. It is simply an action-packed story that is meant to be read merely as an exiting and amusing diversion - and in this regards it is an outstanding success.

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