Over the weekend I had a period of time where none of my attention was demanded anywhere else, so it was the perfect opportunity to sit out on the porch and light a cigar. On the way out of my bedroom I passed my bookshelf and grabbed Martin H. Greenberg's Robert Ludlum Companion. Haven't read it in ages. I spent the next hour reading through Greenberg's interview of Ludlum and skimming the summaries of Ludlum's novels. They reminded me of how much of an influence Mr. Ludlum had been on my writing as I was learning the ropes.
I read almost everything of Ludlum's that I could get my hands on, tapering off just after The Bourne Ultimatum because of college and my early start in radio & television broadcasting. It's been great to see Ludlum's work reprinted for the new generation to discover, and I've decided it's time to start my Ludlum Library again, beginning with a couple of his earlier books that I never had a chance to read.
There's something about Ludlum's work, as clunky as some of it can be, that grabs you by the throat. I think it was his emphasis on conflict. Ain't nobody having a nice conversation, ever, in a Ludlum scene. There is always a crisis. An argument. Imminent danger. And lots of italics for the heavy emphasis of everybody's emotions. It might sound hokey but, wow, can't put that stuff down. If Ian Fleming carried you along with the Fleming Effect, Ludlum had his own effect, we can call it the Ludlum Lasso, because he sure roped you around the neck and brought you along for the ride whether you were ready for it or not.
I remember when I heard about Ludlum's death in 2001. I was a morning segment producer for one of the local television stations, and we ran the report early in the show. I had always hoped to meet him and figured he'd be a kick because his interviews were always so funny.
But, as with many of my favorite writers growing up, they passed on before I could say hello, thanks for all the great entertainment, can you spare a buck or two? I'm glad his books are still around, and the success of the continuation titles in the Jason Bourne and Covert-One series shows that I'm not the only one who appreciated a good Ludlum conspiracy.