Reviewed by Ian Lipke
Alpha Team was sucking gas. That is the full extent of the introduction to this chapter. It is all that is needed. Every sign that a battle is to occur, and many lives will be put at risk. The chapter is representative of the book. This is a rather simple piece of writing which tells a story with very little that is new. What becomes obvious is the fact that the battles lie between Afghan forces that are attempting to maintain some sort of law and order and American forces that are departing Afghanistan and are taking every opportunity to pillage the country’s wealth.
If readers are aware of the Treadstone Project, as explained in the Jason Bourne books, this series is so much easier. The enemy is ‘big government’, particularly the government of the hero’s own persuasion. Strictly speaking, the enemy comprises the senior personnel in the public service who wield too much power for their position.
The book is intended to be pure escapism. When Ludlum first began the series, his only aim was to provide enjoyment for his readers. Prior to his death in 2001, he set up a system by which a number of junior authors could produce works along the model which he established. Hence this book is written by Joshua Hood but is called Robert Ludlum’s The Treadstone Rendition – a novel set in the Jason Bourne universe. It is therefore a story never seen by Ludlum.
The story happens in August 2011 when a team of American soldiers slaughtered a group of Afghan insurgents. Their leader was photographed by an Afghan soldier Abdul Nassir. At one level, the story becomes the American’s attempt to retrieve the photograph while Nassir desperately tries to have his family moved out of Afghanistan. He reaches out to his old friend Hayes, a highly trained American.
Hayes owed Nassir for saving his life. Now Nassir is scared of the Taliban but can’t trust the Americans either.
On another level, the story is an example of the payback system that operated amongst the troops. Furthermore, in order to achieve resolution Hayes must approach a senior officer in the American operation, though he knows he’ll be required to pay back a favour.
The book is a long tale of soldiers killing one another in the closing stages of the Afghan war. For those who delight in action stories this book would be very welcome for only these people could expect satisfaction.
The story is by no means a simple one, its convolutions involve as many ways as one might think of to gain control of another. There are many such readers and there is no doubt that the book will prove very profitable.
By Joshua Hood (Robert Ludlum)
Penguin Random House
ISBN: 978 180328 582 5
$32.99; 349 pp