The Tristan Betrayal is a departure from what I have come to expect from Robert Ludlum, which is probably why I enjoyed this novel so much. It is primarily an historical thriller taking place in Europe during World War II, with only loose tales to the modern day (1991) event that is occurring. In present time, with the Soviet Union is under siege by the hardliners who want to take control of the country, American Ambassador Stephen Metcalf is called upon to convince the one person who can prevent this from happening to stop it. Metcalf does this by relaying the tale of his youth when he was a spy for the United States prior to them joining the war effort in Europe. He has been given the assignment to have a former Russian lover of his to pass off falsified documents to her Gestapo boyfriend that suggests that the Soviets would be weak and be easy prey for the Germans to invade. The end result being Germany involved in a war on two fronts that they couldn’t win.
What generally turns me off from Ludlum is the utterly outlandish plot lines and the ridiculous conspiracies that his novels often devolve into. This novel had none of those things. The story line was plausible and intriguing. The plot unfolded in a logical manner. There was enough action to keep the story moving, even though it wasn’t central to the story. The characters were well-defined. Even though the twist at the end wasn’t much of a twist, and I had figured it out about half way through the novel, the ending was still satisfying. This is the best Ludlum novel I have read and I would recommend it to readers of thrillers and historical fiction.
Carl Alves – author of Reconquest: Mother Earth