|Poking around my bookshelves the other day, I stumbled upon my very old copy of Robert Ludlum's The Chancellor Manuscript. I've mentioned before that this was the first Ludlum I ever read. That was a very long time ago, and I'd forgotten all but the basic plot outline.
Fingering the pages, it took no time to draw me in again. This really is classic Ludlum. The pace is frenetic, the words raw energy. The story twists and turns, and then twists within itself again.
If you have only experienced "new" Ludlum - the Covert-One series, or the estate-produce posthumous novels - you really should go back and check out the classics.
In rediscovering The Chancellor Manuscript, it suddenly struck me what I was missing in the newer novels. Old Ludlum pulled no punches. Love-making was sex. Bad guys were not just simple terrorists, and their actions complex, ambiguous. Characters could be MCPs, and now law said they had to act politically correct. While I still enjoy "new" Ludlum, in comparison it does come off as over-engineered to modern sensibilities. Designed for a middle-American video-game generation, where headshots with shotguns are OK, but fade to black when things get intimate.