Excerpt from The Prometheus Deception by Robert Ludlum, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Prometheus Deception

by Robert Ludlum

The Prometheus Deception
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2000, 384 pages
    Oct 2001, 576 pages

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"You used the past tense, Ted," Bryson said. "The implication being that you believe I’ve lost it."

"I simply meant what I said," Waller replied quietly. "I’ve never worked with anyone better, and I doubt I ever will."

By temperament and by training, Nick knew how to remain impassive, but now his heart was thudding. You were the best we ever had, Nick. That sounded like an homage, and homage, he knew, was a key element of the ritual of separation. Bryson would never forget Waller’s reaction when he pulled off his first operational hat trick—foiling the assassination of a moderate reform candidate in South America. It was a taciturn Not bad: Waller had pressed his lips together to keep from smiling, and to Nick, it was a greater accolade than any that followed. It’s when they begin to acknowledge how valuable you are, Bryson had learned, that you know they're putting you out to pasture.

"Nick, nobody else could have accomplished what you did in the Comoros. The place would have been in the hands of that madman, Colonel Denard. In Sri Lanka,there are probably thousands of people who are alive, on both sides, because of the arms-trading routes you exposed. And what you did in Belarus? The GRU still doesn’t have a clue, and they never will. Leave it to the politicians to color inside the lines, because those are the lines that we’ve drawn, that you’ve drawn. The historians will never know, and the truth is, it’s better that way. But we know that, don’t we?"

Bryson didn’t reply; no reply was called for.

"And on a separate matter, Nick, noses are out of joint around here about the Banque du Nord business." He was referring to Bryson’s penetration of a Tunis bank that channeled laundered funds to Abu and Hezbollah to fund the coup attempt. One night during the operation more than 1.5 billion dollars simply disappeared, vanished into cyberspace. Months of investigation had failed to account for the missing assets. It was a loose end, and the Directorate disliked loose ends.

"You’re not suggesting that I had my hand in the cookie jar, are you?"

"Of course not. But you understand that there are always going to be suspicions. When there are no answers, the questions linger; you know that."

"I’ve had plenty of opportunities for ‘personal enrichment’ that would have been far more lucrative and considerably more discreet."

"You’ve been tested, yes, and you’ve passed with flying colors. But I question the method of diversion, the monies transferred through false flags to Abu’s colleagues to purchase compromisable background data."

"That’s called improvisation. It’s what you pay me for—using my powers of discretion when and where necessary." Bryson stopped, realizing something. "But I was never debriefed about this!"

"You offered up the details yourself, Nick," said Waller.

"I sure as hell never—oh, Christ, it was chemicals, wasn’t it?"

Waller hesitated a split-second, but just long enough that Bryson’s question was answered. Ted Waller could lie, blithely and easily, when the need dictated, but Bryson knew his old friend and mentor found lying to him distasteful. "Where we obtain our information is compartmented, Nick. You know that."

Now he understood the need for such a protracted stay in an American-staffed clinic in Laayoune. Chemicals had to be administered without the subject’s knowledge, preferably injected into the intravenous drip. "Goddamn it, Ted! What’s the implication—that I couldn't be trusted to undergo a conventional debriefing, offer the goods up freely? That only a blind interrogation could tell you what you wanted to know? You had to put me under without my knowledge?"

"Sometimes the most reliable interrogation is that which is conducted without the subject’s calculation of his own best interest."

Copyright Robert Ludlum 2000. All rights reserved.

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