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The Road to Gandolfo by Robert Ludlum | Book Review

Robert Ludlum started his career as an actor and theatrical producer and later became a best-selling author. His books had such a wide fan-following that even after his death in 2001, his name kept appearing on the titles of many best-sellers which were written by other writers.

The name “Robert Ludlum” had become synonymous for the genre of crime thrillers. The curious co-incident is that Robert Ludlum himself went by the pen-name of ‘Jonathan Ryder’ and ‘Michael Shepherd’ for brief periods.

Book Title : The Road to Gandolfo
Author :
Publisher : Bantam (1992)
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“The Road to Gandolfo” was first published in 1975. As the writer himself confesses, this story is one of those insane accidents where an idea puts his imagination on fire, and the characters are born with a promise of a chilling adventure. However, when he tries to put it in words, it somehow does not live upto his own expectations.

We meet General McKenzie Hawkins, a glorious soldier of the USA, a veteran who fought valiantly during the World War II and then performed exceptionally during the covert wars that followed. However, when we meet him, he is in a very bad spot. He has been accused of insulting a Chinese monument and the US national flag. The only thing that can save him from Mongolian prison is a statement accepting that he is suffering from a mental illness. A lawyer-turned-army diplomat Sam Devereaux fixes this deal for him, only to find later that he has been fixed himself to go on with whatever General McKenzie wants to do from now on.

The General goes ahead and steals some very valuable information from the US government files. He then blackmails four worst imaginable gangsters and thieves in the world to raise 40 million dollars. He gets all of this done through Sam without appearing in picture. The entertainment quotient is kept high during this part through Sam travelling all over the world and running into one of the four beautiful women every time, from what used to be former Mrs. Hawkinses. Yes, the general was married four time and the “girls” are happy to oblige him in whatever way he asks.

So, what is the general planning to do with the forty million dollars? He hires a troop of best mercenaries and trains them in a very secure location in Europe, to kidnap the Pope. The logic behind this is, “if you kidnapped the Pope and asked every Christian to donate one dollar, so he could be free, you would end up rich beyond your dreams”. Now, it happens so, that the current Pope very conveniently has a cousin who looks just like him. The General gets hold of the look-alike brother and is planning to make a switch while the Pope is travelling to his holiday retreat in Gandolfo.

Sam, trying to put obstacles in the General’s path, and every time very funnily tripping on his shoes, finally manages to reach the kidnapping venue to try and stop the insanity. But guess what, The Pope does want to be kidnapped. Why? What happens next? Does General Hawkins get the price he dreamed of?

You’ve got to read this funny little adventure to get to the end. It hardly makes any sense when the story starts, but it gets better eventually and you actually might enjoy a few events……….

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