Peter Janson is a retired operative, now a highly sought after and extremely selective security specialist. The spy game ended up costing him everything that was most important to him and it would take a lot to lure him back into it. Unfortunately, the one person to whom Janson's personal debt is so large that he could require anything of Janson is calling in his marker. Peter Novak, the legendary Hungarian immigrant and head of the Liberty Foundation - an immensely rich man who uses his wealth to rebuild and foster the growth of democratic ideals in the most ravaged and war-torn spots around the globe - has been kidnapped and faces execution at the hands of terrorist extremists. It is up to Janson to exfiltrate him before Novak is murdered. Janson puts together a top team immediately and manages the nearly impossible task of extricating Novak, but something goes horribly wrong - something that indicates that his operation has been compromised from the start - and only Janson himself survives. Now the major intelligence services think that Janson was responsible for Novak's death and are sending their finest operatives after him. If Janson is to survive, and to avenge Novak's murder, he must unravel the twisted truth that lies behind the legend that is and was Peter Novak. Because it appears that Novak is somehow, inexplicably, still alive and speaking publicly. And something serious is about to happen - something that threatens to change the course of history itself.
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St. Martin's Press
October 13, 2002
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Excerpt from The Janson Directive by Robert Ludlum
The worldwide headquarters of the Harnett Corporation occupied the top two floors of a sleek black-glass tower on Dearborn Street, in Chicago's Loop. Harnett was an international construction firm, but not the kind that put up skyscrapers in American metropolises. Most of its projects were outside the United States; along with larger corporations such as Bechtel, Vivendi, and Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux, it contracted for projects like dams, wastewater treatment plants, and gas turbine power stations -- unglamorous but necessary infrastructure. Such projects posed civil engineering challenges rather than aesthetic ones, but they also required an ability to work the ever shifting zone between public and private sectors. Third World countries, pressured by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to sell off publicly owned assets, routinely sought bidders for telephone systems, water and power utilities, railways, and mines. As ownership changed hands, new construction work was required, and narrowly focused firms like the Harnett Corporation had come into their own.
"To see Ross Harnett," the man told the receptionist. "The name's Paul Janson."
The receptionist, a young man with freckles and red hair, nodded, and notified the chairman's office. He glanced at the visitor without interest. Another middle-aged white guy with a yellow tie. What was there to see?
For Janson, it was a point of pride that he seldom got a second look. Though he was athletic and solidly built, his appearance was unremarkable, utterly nondescript. With his creased forehead and short-cropped steel-gray hair, he looked his five decades. Whether on Wall Street or the Bourse, he knew how to make himself all but invisible. Even his expensively tailored suit, of gray nailhead worsted, was perfect camouflage, as appropriate to the corporate jungle as the green and black face paint he once wore in Vietnam was to the real jungle. One would have to be a trained observer to detect that it was the man's shoulders, not the customary shoulder pads, that filled out the suit. And one would have to have spent some time with him to notice the way his slate eyes took everything in, or his quietly ironic air.
"It's going to be just a couple of minutes," the receptionist told him blandly, and Janson drifted off to look at the gallery of photographs in the reception area. They showed that the Harnett Corporation was currently working on water and wastewater networks in Bolivia, dams in Venezuela, bridges in Saskatchewan, power stations in Egypt. These were the images of a prosperous construction company. And it was indeed prospering -- or had been until recently.
The company's vice president of operations, Steven Burt, believed it ought to be doing much better. There were aspects of the recent downturn that aroused his suspicions, and he had prevailed upon Paul Janson to meet with Ross Harnett, the firm's chairman and CEO. Janson had reservations about taking on another client: though he had been a corporate security consultant for only the past five years, he had immediately established a reputation for being unusually effective and discreet, which meant that the demand for his services exceeded both his time and his interest. He would not have considered this job if Steven Burt had not been a friend from way back. Like him, Burt had had another life, one that he'd left far behind once he entered the civilian world. Janson was reluctant to disappoint him. He would, at least, take the meeting.