Excerpt from The SIGMA Protocol by Robert Ludlum, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The SIGMA Protocol

by Robert Ludlum

The SIGMA Protocol by Robert Ludlum X
The SIGMA Protocol by Robert Ludlum
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2001, 528 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2002, 672 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Chapter One

Zurich

"May I get you something to drink while you wait?" The Hotelpage was a compact man who spoke English with only a trace of an accent. His brass nameplate gleamed against his loden-green uniform.

"No, thank you," Ben Hartman said, smiling wanly.

"Are you sure? Perhaps some tea? Coffee? Mineral water?" The bellhop peered up at him with the bright-eyed eagerness of someone who has only a few minutes left to enhance his parting tip. "I'm terribly sorry your car is delayed."

"I'm fine, really."

Ben stood in the lobby of the Hotel St. Gotthard, an elegant nineteenth-century establishment that specialized in catering to the well heeled international businessman--and, face it, that's me, Ben thought sardonically. Now that he had checked out, he wondered idly whether he could tip the bellhop not to carry his bags, not to follow his every move a few feet behind, like a Bengali bride, not to offer unceasing apologies for the fact that the car that was to take Ben to the airport had not yet arrived. Luxury hotels the world over prided themselves on such coddling, but Ben, who traveled quite a bit, inevitably found it intrusive, deeply irritating. He'd spent so much time trying to break out of the cocoon, hadn't he? But the cocoon--the stale rituals of privilege--had won out in the end. The Hotelpage had his number, all right: just another rich, spoiled American.

Ben Hartman was thirty-six, but today he felt much older. It wasn't just the jet lag, though he had arrived from New York yesterday and still felt that sense of dislocation. It was something about being in Switzerland again: in happier days, he'd spent a lot of time here, skiing too fast, driving too fast, feeling like a wild spirit among its stone-faced, rulebound burghers. He wished he could regain that spirit, but he couldn't. He hadn't been to Switzerland since his brother, Peter--his identical twin, his closest friend in all the world--had been killed here four years ago. Ben had expected the trip to stir up memories, but nothing like this. Now he realized what a mistake he'd made coming back here. From the moment he'd arrived at Kloten Airport, he'd been distracted, swollen with emotion--anger, grief, loneliness.

But he knew better than to let it show. He'd done a little business yesterday afternoon, and this morning had a cordial meeting with Dr. Rolf Grendelmeier of the Union Bank of Switzerland. Pointless, of course, but you had to keep the clients happy; glad-handing was part of the job. If he was honest with himself, it was the job, and Ben sometimes felt a pang at how easily he slipped into the role, that of the legendary Max Hartman's only surviving son, the heir presumptive to the family fortune, and to the CEO's office at Hartman Capital Management, the multibillion-dollar firm founded by his father.

Now Ben possessed the whole trick bag of international finance--the closet full of Brioni and Kiton suits, the easy smile, the firm handshake, and, most of all, the gaze: steady, level, concerned. It was a gaze that conveyed responsibility, dependability, and sagacity, and that, often as not, concealed desperate boredom.

Still, he hadn't really come to Switzerland to do business. At Kloten, a small plane would take him to St. Moritz for a ski vacation with an extremely wealthy, elderly client, the old man's wife, and his allegedly beautiful granddaughter. The client's arm-twisting was jovial but persistent. Ben was being fixed up, and he knew it. This was one of the hazards of being a presentable, well-off, "eligible" single man in Manhattan: his clients were forever trying to set him up with their daughters, their nieces, their cousins. It was hard to say no politely. And once in a while he actually met a woman whose company he enjoyed. You never knew. Anyway, Max wanted grandchildren.

Excerpted from The SIGMA Protocol, (c) 2002 Robert Ludlum. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission of the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Timekeepers
    Timekeepers
    by Simon Garfield
    If you can spare three minutes and 57 seconds, you can hear the driving, horse-gallop beat of Sade&#...
  • Book Jacket: How to Stop Time
    How to Stop Time
    by Matt Haig
    Tom Hazard, the protagonist of How to Stop Time, is afflicted with a condition of semi-immortality ...
  • Book Jacket: Mothers of Sparta
    Mothers of Sparta
    by Dawn Davies
    What it's about:
    The tagline on the back cover of Mothers of Sparta says it all: "Some women...
  • Book Jacket: Fortress America
    Fortress America
    by Elaine Tyler May
    In Fortress America, Elaine Tyler May presents a fascinating but alarming portrait of America's...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

A nuanced portrait of war, and of three women haunted by the past and the secrets they hold.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Only Child
    by Rhiannon Navin

    A dazzling, tenderhearted debut about healing, family, and the exquisite wisdom of children.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    As Bright as Heaven
    by Susan Meissner

    A story of a family reborn through loss and love in Philadelphia during the flu epidemic of 1918.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

G O T P, B The P, F T P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.