RoadTrip America

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Robert Ludlum's The Arctic Event, by James H. Cobb (Read by Jeff Woodman)

This entry in Robert Ludlum's Covert One series gives new meaning to the term "cold war." After a research team on tiny Wednesday Island in the Canadian Arctic discovers the frozen wreckage of a vintage military airplane, embarrassed Russian authorities admit the plane was theirs and that it had been carrying 2 metric tons of anthrax when it disappeared 50 years earlier. Not wanting to jeopordize 21st Century Soviet-American harmony by igniting old hostilities and fears, U. S. President Castillo sends Lt. Col. Jon Smith and his Covert-One team to secretly retrieve and contain the anthrax. Smith is joined by CIA operative Randi Russell and Professor Valentina Metrace, both of whom are beautiful as well as highly skilled agents. The U.S.'s new best friends, the Russians, dispatch their own scientists and agents to join the team and to help avert an international disaster. The anthrax, however, is not the only Soviet secret the aircraft contains, and the Covert-One team is not the only group hoping to salvage the deadly payload.

James H. Cobb ably carries on Robert Ludlum's legacy of Covert-One adventures in this audio book. In addition to telling a good story, Cobb provides historical and environmental perspectives that will let the reader come away from the book with a greater understanding of Soviet-American relations and the impact of politics on environmental issues. Cobb's prose evokes vivid images, as when he describes Wednesday and her sister islands as "crumbs of continent" in the Canadian Arctic. As engaging as Cobb's adventure is, Jeff Woodman, the phenomenal narrator, makes it even more engrossing. He deftly peoples the book with accented male and female voices from several nationalities while sustaining a passionate narrative, told with appropriate degrees of tension, anguish and warmth.

The multinational forces of good guys and bad guys keep the listener's curiosity piqued from beginning to end. Just as it's not always clear to Smith and his team who their allies and enemies are, the listener is also never sure whether to root for or against the various players. Despite betrayals, murders and international treachery, the main characters behave admirably and make us hope to be able to follow their exploits in still to be written future thrillers.

Ruth Mormon

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