The Aquataine Progression by Robert Ludlum, the great perennial thriller writer of the 20th century... This book firmly falls into the thriller / suspense category, and the plot is stuffed full of very interesting political action in the best of Ludlum's traditions, recognizable to most because of his Bourne trilogy of novels, which have now been turned into a trilogy of movies starring Matt Damon, where Damon played the character, the amnesia afflicted super spy, Jason Bourne. Like the Bourne series, The Aquataine Progression is a fast paced, paranoia filled novel, with plenty of plot line to the story, which surpassed many of his contemporary competitors novels, such as Vince Flynn's "The Third Option" in that regard by a long distance.
The Aquataine Progression follows a slightly James Bondish plot involving an attempt at world domination by a group of fanatical generals. And, like a Bond film, the story is far-fetched, and there are a lot of very lucky coincidences, but I raced through book nonetheless. In it, the group of aforementioned. formerly highly-regarded but extremely right-wing generals from some of the west's biggest countries (US, UK, Germany, France and Israel) are planning a what is to be a daring, ambitious and meticulously executed strategy to take over of the entirety western civilsation under the codename Aquitaine. The plan hits a bump when a former POW and current attorney in international law, Joel Converse, is brought in to expose the generals. His efforts take him all over Europe and on the way, he's forced to become the lethal soldier he was in Vietnam in order to survive. A string of false charges, thanks to a compromised Surete, Interpol and almost every law-upholding agency in Europe makes him a pariah, a fugitive running from everyone and able to trust nobody.
The characters are believable, and sympathetic, and the story is exciting, but it is highly exciting nonsense. For instance, the idea of non-speaking-other-than-English main character crossing the European borders, buying food and checking in hotels without no problems at all seems a bit surreal, if typical of a generic espionage tale. The pleasure derived from reading this is unavoidably lessened somewhat also by the conscious thought of how It somewhat surprisingly dated to me a book like this is and how,
now, the story could not possibly happen in the days of fast computers,satellite phones, security checks, and so on. Still. Robert Ludlum distracts you from these flaws with gorgeous depictions of exotic scenery more potent then the imaging of even the most experienced tour guide, and I began to love how Ludlum intermixed nationalities and religious characters throughout his novel.
In the end, this is a tightly plotted, highly enjoyable piece of writing, well beyond the quality of any of the more well known thriller writers, such as Tom Clancy or others. The book is stuffed to bursting with plot twists and stunning prose, and for those are willing to look past a few minor narrative flaws typical of the genre, the last 150 pages in particular give this book a truly epic and even smart ending that is well worth the wait. Read it and love it.