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Ludlum's historical fiction Ludlum's historical fiction
by Thanos Kalamidas
Issue 5
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In the last issue of Ovi Magazine, I referred to Robert Ludlum, one of my favourite authors, and, after that, I decided to re-read his very first book, The Scarlatti Inheritance. In that article I mentioned that we should never be embarrassed or scarred of the books we own; anyway, I never really understood all this philosophy about paperbacks.

A very close friend of mine introduced me to Ludlum’s books a long time ago, she said, “If you want to find the truth about what’s going on in the real world, read this book,” and she gave me The Bourne Identity, Ludlum’s tenth book. By the way, my friend was working during the Cold War in the British Embassy in Moscow, which makes it very interesting by what she meant by referring to the ‘real world’.

Since then I found myself with nearly all his books, some of them in two languages and one in three languages. The Scarlatti Inheritance is the first of his career and on my bookcase. His first book involves international conspiracies, mystery, murder and greed for both money and power. Most of all, when you finish it you are left wondering if what you just read is fiction or reality - a common trait in all his books.

The Second World War, more than anything else, has hundreds of conspiracy theories and when the book was first published in 1971 there were a few new theories beginning from novels, such as The Boys from Brazil, Eva Braun’s Sister, The Secret Diaries of Hitler and many more. Ludlum didn’t really add anything to all that, but we all read stories about the mythic money the Nazis had and how they received support from American companies in the beginning - their secret admirers.

The different in this book is the author’s style. To a certain point Robert Ludlum follows the ‘author’s manual’ by the letter. Everything is well researched in every detail, from the names of the streets to the colours of the houses. I’ve been to a couple of these cities myself and I can guarantee that everything is how he describes it.

The characters are alive, you know them and you’ve read about all these people in the news, in history books and in gossip magazines. Perhaps they had different names but still you know them. The events are familiar as well, you have heard or read about them, but then Robert Ludlum puts them all together. What comes out is a breathtaking adventure. The events follow one after the other with the speed of the Starship Enterprise and the good guys win in the end.

I think that last part is the only one that makes me feel a bit weird about Robert Ludlum’s books. The good guys are pure and honest, they never do anything wrong, while on the other side the villains are total evil. The ugliness of their soul reflects in the description of their faces. The borders between good and evil are clearly defined.

Robert Ludlum’s book The Scarlatti Inheritance is worth having in your collection but only if you liked The Boys from Brazil or you want to have the full Ludlum collection (one copy of each is enough). Otherwise, The Bourne Identity is still the must-have from his books.

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