By People Staff
May 16, 1988 12:00 PM

by Robert Ludlum

Let’s not belabor it. Anyone planning to read this novel has 677 long pages ahead of him as it is. The book is, by Ludlum standards, quite cheery; the first violent death doesn’t happen until page 58. This is also a relatively focused story, without the continent-hopping plot leaps characteristic of Ludlum. What the novel is not is convincing—ever. Its hero is a Congressman, Evan Kendrick, who starts out by sneaking into Oman and disguising himself as an Arab to defuse a terrorist situation and confront a Middle East Mr. Big. Next thing you know, Evan, who really just wants to go camping, is being manipulated into running for President by an ominous cabal of aristocrats. All of this might be tolerable if it were more plausible or faster moving. Ludlum, though, undercuts his credibility by such gaffes as talking about the time “Henry Luce put [Jimmy Carter] on the cover of TIME” (Luce died in 1967, and Carter wasn’t elected governor until 1970). And he never uses one word where 100 will do, letting dialogue drone on and filling space with such things as this pointless civics lesson: “Counterpartism [identical committees in both the U.S. House and Senate] is one more example of the republic’s effective system of checks and balances. The legislative branch of government, actively reflecting the current views of a far wider spectrum of the body politic than either an entrenched executive branch or the life-tenured judiciary, must negotiate within itself and reach a consensus on each of the hundredfold issues presented to its two deliberative arms.” Okay, Bob, uh, good, thanks. Let us know when you’ve got another guy ready to be dropped into shark-infested waters with a bleeding pig strapped to his back, will you? (Random House, $19.95)