December 24, 2001 12:00 PM

by Robert Ludlum

Page-turner of the week

Ludlum always had a way with endings, and he still has more twists in store. Although the master suspense writer died in March at age 73, he left at least two more books to follow this, his 24th thriller.

The Sigma Protocol centers on investment banker Ben Hartman, the emotionally wounded son of business genius and Holocaust survivor Max Hartman. Four years after his twin brother, Peter, died in a plane crash outside Zurich, Ben has returned to Switzerland to take a ski vacation. Instead, he suddenly finds himself the unlikely target of assassins.

Barely a step ahead of the killers, Hartman desperately searches for the reason he is being pursued. Meanwhile, back in the U.S., Justice Department agent Anna Navarro tries to solve a puzzle of her own: the suspicious deaths of elderly men whose names all appear on a mysterious World War II-era list code-named Sigma.

Packed with all the classic Ludlum elements—Nazis, secretive government agencies, macabre global conspiracies—the intricately engineered plot thunders forward at breakneck pace. By the time Hartman and Navarro join forces to confront the bad guys, Ludlum has the reader “hopelessly hooked. (St. Martin’s, $27.95)

Bottom Line: Perfectly executed

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