• The Matlock Paper by Robert Ludlum

    You may be able to tell from the size of The Matlock Paper (352 pages) that it is not an entire Robert Ludlum novel — complete yes, but not a fullscale cross-generational, Nazi-chasing, conspiracy-theory-based cordite charged Robert Ludlum thriller, of the infamous old-school style.  Instead, The Matlock Paper is more domestic and has as its setting a university campus, not the most auspicious or rip-roaring setting for a thriller of this stamp. 

    Still, there is far too much going on in Matlock to describe or even barely handle: gambling clubs, black militants, car chases, disguises, private eyes, mutilations, student prostitution, LSD, weed, and back alley beatings.  And all of this in New England, Connecticut to be exact.

  • The Osterman Weekend

    Robert Ludlum set two of his earliest novels, The Matlock Paper (1973) and The Osterman Weekend (1972) in flatly suburban arenas, where the homogeneity of the upper-middle classes is at any minute about to be ripped open. Robert Ludlum is a conspiracy theorist — his stories are always epic conspiracies —and before he decided to segue that with James Bond influences for the ultimate alchemical plot explosions ever (he predicted), this was his singular contribution to the thriller world. The underbelly in The Osterman Weekend is that of the Cold War and a project called The Omega, which looks set to destabilise the entire capitalist west. What’s of driving interest in these novels however are the characters, swarthy middle aged men with attractive wives, guys who always have a drink after work and seem at a disconnect from the major realities of their country, certainly the realities of politics and social issues.