Picks and Pans Review: The Apocalypse Watch

updated 07/10/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/10/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Robert Ludlum

Ludlum's approach to writing has been likened to a game of Scrabble in which the author cleverly rearranges squares marked CIA, the Mafia and international terrorists into best-selling thrillers. Certainly it's a formula that has worked. But after 19 novels, Ludlum might want to consider shaking up the box and grabbing some new tiles.

This time the story revolves around American secret agent Drew Lathao, whose older brother Harry emerges from a deep-cover mission in a secret neo-Nazi training camp with a list of supposed collaborators that includes some of the highest ranking officials in the U.S., England and France.

As usual, Ludlum is at his best hurtling the reader through the ever-widening conspiracy. Page by page he ratchets up the paranoia, with Latham dodging bullets at every turn. But the payoff misses. Strange as it may seem for a novel that tears through the back alleys of Paris and Bonn—with double agents and murderous Nazis in hot pursuit—the overwhelming sense for a longtime Ludlum reader is simply "been there, done that." (Bantam, $24.95)

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