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Creator / Robert Ludlum

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Robert Ludlum (1927 – 2001) was an American thriller writer. His best-known work is probably The Bourne Series, which was adapted (loosely) into a popular series of films starring Matt Damon.

Works by Robert Ludlum with their own trope pages include:

Other works by Robert Ludlum provide examples of:

  • Bedmate Reveal: Toyed with in The Arctic Event. Randi Russell wakes up naked in a sleeping bag with not only Jon Smith, but also Valentina Metrace. Despite her understandable surprise, there was no hanky-panky. They were trying to keep her from dying of hypothermia after she was out in Arctic blizzard conditions without protective clothing. Doesn't stop someone making a joke, though.
    Val: It's alright, darling. Nobody waits until marriage anymore.
  • Conveniently Interrupted Document: Appears in The Janson Directive to avoid giving away the name of the villain in official letters concerning him.
  • Conspiracy Thriller: The Icarus Agenda, among others. Actually, it would probably be easier to list Ludlum's novels that don't fall under this genre.
  • Engaging Conversation: In The Road to Omaha, main viewpoint character Sam Devereaux meets a beautiful fellow lawyer and more-or-less instantly falls in love, proposing before they've even exchanged names. She's naturally appalled, but then just a few minutes later, something he says strikes her as so inspiring that she proposes to him.
  • Forgets to Eat: A Mad Scientist in The Sigma Protocol, has only two modes: on his meds, he remembers to eat and sleep. Off his meds, he concocts insanely brilliant schemes and invents wacky contraptions.
  • Gambit Pileup: A common plot element.
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: In The Icarus Agenda, and explicitly recognised as such by both parties. (The two characters do end up in an ongoing relationship at the end.)
  • Government Agency of Fiction: Consular Operations, the covert ops division of the US State Department. A number of Ludlum's protagonists are current or former members of this agency, including Brandon Scofield from The Matarese Circle, Michael Havelock from The Parsifal Mosaic, Paul Janson from The Janson Directive etc.
  • Living Lie Detector: The main character in The Ambler Warning.
  • Mad Lib Thriller Title: The Ambler Warning, The Apocalypse Watch, The Aquitaine Progression, The Bancroft Strategy , The Chancellor Manuscript, The Gemini Contenders, The Holcroft Covenant, The Icarus Agenda, The Janson Directive, The Matarese Circle, The Matarese Countdown, The Matlock Paper, The Osterman Weekend, The Parsifal Mosaic, The Prometheus Deception, The Rhinemann Exchange, The Scarlatti Inheritance, The Scorpio Illusion, The Sigma Protocol, The Tristan Betrayal.
  • Masquerading As the Unseen: In The Icarus Agenda, the protagonist is called on to infiltrate a terrorist cell by impersonating a notorious and reclusive terrorist mastermind, counting on the likelihood that the members of the cell don't have any more idea what he looks like than US intelligence does. The one thing US intelligence does know is that he has a distinctive tattoo, but there isn't time to replicate it so the protagonist just has to hope the cell's leaders won't insist on having a look at where the tattoo should be. They do insist on having a look — and then accept him as the genuine article because he doesn't have the tattoo, which it turns out is a false rumor the mastermind deliberately had leaked so that imposters would give themselves away.
  • Poor Communication Kills: A common problem, as what the authorities think the main characters are doing often has little to do with what they're actually doing, and the misunderstandings mean that they can't just call each other up and ask what they're doing and why. The most common turning point in the various novels is the moment when the guy caught up in the conspiracy manages to get in contact with some authority figure willing to hear him out so that he can explain what is going on and they can figure out what they should be doing about it.
  • Reluctant Ruler: The protagonist of The Icarus Agenda entered politics out of a genuine desire to help his constituency and only intends to stay in as long as he's needed; he doesn't desire power for its own sake and has no intention of seeking higher office. This is said to be one of the reasons he's good at what he does, and that he's more deserving of higher office than other characters who do want it.
  • Same Face, Different Name: Books without a familiar three-word style title originally published under pseudonyms: Trevayne and The Cry Of The Halidon as 'Jonathan Ryder', The Road To Gandolfo as 'Michael Shepherd'.
  • Spy Fiction
  • Surveillance as the Plot Demands: The villain in The Prometheus Deception is capable of this.
  • Swiss Bank Account: In The Ostermann Weekend, the protagonist discovers that a man who may be a foreign spy has a Swiss bank account, and considers this to be Evidence, but it turns out that the man is innocent, and his response to being accused of having a Swiss bank account is basically, "Yes, I do. What's your point?"
  • Unwitting Pawn:
    • In The Osterman Weekend, the progonist's mission to identify which of a group of people is a foreign spy was instigated by the real spy, who plans to use the noise made by the protagonist barking up one wrong tree after another as a useful distraction.
    • In The Prometheus Deception, Nick Bryson is an operative for the Directorate, a top-secret division of the U.S. government. Five years after his forced retirement, he's tracked down by the FBI director who informs him of the truth: The Directorate was founded by the KGB, Bryson's parents were killed to set him on this path, his foster "uncle" was an enemy operative and even his beloved girlfriend was in on it. Every single mission he risked his life for and felt proud of actually was working against U.S. interests and thus his entire life has been one grand lie to be used by the enemy.
  • Vicariously Ambitious: The conspiracy in The Icarus Agenda are Well-Intentioned Extremists who want America to have a good President, but recognise that the kind of person they have in mind would be unlikely to volunteer for high political office or to beat the more power-hungry and politically wily candidates if he did; their solution is to find a suitable candidate and manipulate his career without his knowledge. They're not after any gain for themselves beyond the general benefit to everybody of living in an America with a good President.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The members of the conspiracy in The Icarus Agenda will stop at nothing, even blackmail and murder, to have an honest and capable man as President of the United States. Whether he wants the job or not.
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different?: In The Janson Directive, Jessica Kincaid, a sniper hired to kill the protagonist who ultimately befriends him, explains that her single father effectively raised her as a boy, teaching her how to fix cars and hunt.