• Series: Covert-One series (Book 12)

  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (September 29, 2015)

  • ISBN-10: 1455577626

  • ISBN-13: 978-1455577620

Some reviewers have complained about the marketing for the latest Covert-One yarn as the publisher implies it has something to do with Jason Boerne. It doesn’t. Others claim the title doesn’t fit as there’s no particular “patriot” or “patriot attack.” Such responses miss the extreme nationalist motive of the rogue Japanese general who is all about restoring his country’s leadership in Asia. Strangest of all, there are reviewers who think using the Robert Ludlum name in the title is deceptive because Ludlum is dead. Apparently, such readers don’t read many franchise novels. Authors like Ludlum and Tom Clancy launched series expecting other authors would be writing new chapters in the various sagas they envisioned to continue even after their deaths.

In the case of the Covert-One books, Ludlum co-wrote the first seven thrillers with various collaborators before new writers carried on without him. The series debuted in 2000 with The Hades Factor by Ludlum and Gayle Lynds. Other writers have included Phillip Shelby, Keith Farrell, Patrick Larkin, James H. Cobb, Jamie Freveletti, and Kyle Mills. In 2011, Mills joined the roster with The Ares Decision, later The Utopia Experiment, and now the newest offering, The Patriot Attack.

Naturally, as all the contributors have to work with a predetermined and formulaic template, there’s only subtle distinctions between the books, at least in terms of tone and approach. The most important commonality in the series is the leading role of army microbiologist and top agent Colonel Jon Smith. He was recruited by Covert-One chief Fred Klein who was selected by President Sam Castilla to set up this very elite outfit which gives the president a secret unit to battle terrorists, biological weapons, and geopolitical corruption. While there’s a cast of other recurring players in the books, the only one to play a prominent role in The Patriot Attack is Randi Russell, the sexy agent who’s become Smith’s partner.

Another essential ingredient in the Covert-One stories is learning how to thwart almost science fiction weaponry, normally attempted biological warfare. But there’s often very technological components like hacking, attack drones, and advanced surveillance. In the case of The Patriot Attack, the most advanced weapon a rogue general wants to employ is nano-tech that can utterly destroy China’s infrastructure. He has other deadly weapons in his arsenal as well that allows him to lecture President Castilla on why the U.S. has fallen behind, including our political whims that focus on high-dollar contracts to upgrade outmoded weapons and the insistence of Congress to center any advances in their home districts.

Other staples of the series include nearly non-stop action beginning with the first paragraphs along with cliff-hanger endings to most chapters. It’s been noted The Patriot Attack is somewhat fresh as the duel is set in Japan and China. The U.S. is seen as little more than a nuisance in the quest to make Japan the new super-power. True, the setting is a bit atypical and the lop-sided conflict sometimes strains credibility. But isn’t that true of most such thrillers?

There’s no reason Covert-One fans should be disappointed by The Patriot Attack, unless you’re unhappy some of your favorite characters weren’t called to action. If you’ve not read any of the books so far, you don’t need to worry that 11 sagas have gone before—each novel works very well as a stand-alone adventure. If this sort of stuff trips your metaphorical trigger, come on in. The water’s fine.