covert_one12 Covert_One6 covert_one11 Covert_One4 Covert_One2 Covert_One9 covert_one_mv_thf Covert_One8 Covert_One1 Covert_One3 Covert_One10 Covert_One7 Covert_One5
Full Name: Covert One
Nationality: American
Organization: Covert-One
Occupation Agency

Creator: Robert Ludlum
Time Span: 2000 - 2015


Jon Smith and Randi Russell are agents with Covert One.

Covert One is a highly secret intelligence organization that the White House has authorized which would operate outside the control of the CIA and the other well-known agencies. Its anonymity and its flexibility would make it able to go and do things otherwise likely impossible or politically deadly.

Headed by an enigmatic Nathaniel Frederick Klein, its members are made up of people he considers 'mobile ciphers', someone at loose end with no family or close friends who was an expert at some field needed by the organization. With this highly eclectic group, he combats the enemies of the country behind the scenes without fanfare. Often these experts would be drawn from other Intelligence orgainizations but now always.

The series revolves around two main characters.

Dr. Jonathan "Jon" Smith is a colonel attached to USAMRIID (U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases) who specializes in the horrid viruses and bugs, usually man-made or man-altered, that could bring about mass deaths. As the series begins, he has no desire for anything other than the life he has but the situation forced on him makes him change his mind. Smith is the main agent in all the books.

Randi Russell, the sister of Smith's deceased fiancé, is a member of the CIA who has seen considerable action over the years and is the more experienced of the two in field work. She boths hates and loves Smith, angry that he "let" her sister die and respectful of the way he gives so much of himself in both areas of his professional life, medicine and covert ops. She is far more dangerous than Smith in a fight.

These two agents are by no means all that take part in Covert One's activities but they are the primary agents called to duty, especially Smith.


Number of Books:12
First Appearance:2000
Last Appearance:2015

1 The Hades Factor The Hades Factor
Written by Robert Ludlum, Gayle Lynds
Copyright: 2000

When Smith's fiancé gets on the trail of a terrible outbreak with an even worse potential, she learns that it is being purposely unleashed and pays for her education with her life. Smith and Randi vow to find and bring down the people behind the plot.
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2 The Cassandra Compact The Cassandra Compact
Written by Philip Shelby
Copyright: 2001

When rogue Russian agents combine with rogue American agents, all in possession of bacteria capable of millions of deaths, the certainty is that many will soon perish if Smith and Russell can't find out who is planning to release the destruction.
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3 The Paris Option The Paris Option
Written by Gayle Lynds
Copyright: 2002

One of the primary movers behind the creation of a DNA computer has been bombed and its head scientist killed. Smith tries to recover any research that might have survived as he also seeks to learn who would profit from the theft of the information or the deaths of the scientists.
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4 The Altman Code The Altman Code
Written by Gayle Lynds
Copyright: 2003

The murder of a photographer who took a picture he shouldn't have starts the adventure that sees the Covert One team having to intercept a shipment of Iraqi chemicals bound for an attack on the U.S.
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5 The Lazarus Vendetta The Lazarus Vendetta
Written by Patrick Larkin
Copyright: 2004

Nanophages are the weapon of choice for the band of terrorists the Covert One team must stop. These submolecular machines can cause skin to rot from the bones within minutes.
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6 The Moscow Vector The Moscow Vector
Written by Patrick Larkin
Copyright: 2005

Aging hardliners anxious for one last attempt to bring back the glory of the Soviet Union have procured a biological weapon named HYDRA which can be engineered to attack one specific victim.
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7 The Arctic Event The Arctic Event
Written by James H. Cobb
Copyright: 2007

In the wilds of the Canadian Arctic, a Soviet bomber has been discovered. When it disappeared 50 years ago, it was said to carry two tons of anthrax.
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8 The Ares Decision The Ares Decision
Written by Kyle Mills
Copyright: 2011

A US Special Forces team in Uganda is destroyed by a group of farmers who appear to have extraordinary abilities. Evidence comes that a parasite causes mass hysteria and violence before dying off. It has been happening for centuries but now it is not dying. Covert One is called in to investigate.
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9 The Janus Reprisal The Janus Reprisal
Written by Jamie Freveletti
Copyright: 2012

Attacks around the city of Le Hague are clearly intended to free a Pakistani warlord on trial for warcrimes. Agent Jon Smith is nearly a victim in one of the attacks and learns that even as he tries to help recapture the enemy of America, Smith is on a list to be killed.
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10 The Utopia Experiment The Utopia Experiment
Written by Kyle Mills
Copyright: 2013

The technology behind the Merge, a new and revolutionary device, is so advanced as to put computers and smartphones to shame. Even as Jon Smith tries to evaluate its military usages, Randi Russell is finding dead Afghans who were in possession of such items.
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11 The Geneva Strategy The Geneva Strategy
Written by Jamie Freveletti
Copyright: 2015

Numerous people are kidnapped from D.C., including a computer programmer playing a major role in new drone technology. Jon Smith and company must track them down but as they go about it, some of the victims are found, obviously brain-washed.
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12 The Patriot Attack The Patriot Attack
Written by Kyle Mills
Copyright: 2015

Jon Smith is sent on a mission to recover secret material from the Fukushima nuclear reactor and then disappears. Randi Russell refuses to follow orders and heads there to find him.
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Number of Movies:1
First Appearance:2006
Last Appearance:2006

Originally released as a two-part made-for-tv movie, the one entry was later released as a full-length movie for European markets.

1 Covert One: The Hades Factor Covert One: The Hades Factor
Director: Mick Jackson
Writers: Elwood Reid, Robert Ludlum, Gayle Lynds
Actors: Stephen Dorff as Jon Smith, Mira Sorvino as Rachel Russell, Blair Underwood as Palmer Addison, Sophia Myles as Sophie Amsden, Colm Meaney as Peter Howell
Released: 2006

Agent Rachel Russell is trying to get a virus back in Berlin when she is double-crossed. She needs help which comes from former agent Jon Smith who is in town with his fiancee for a conference.


I liked Dr. Jon Smith but I really liked his fiancé and really, really liked her sister Randi. The fact that one of the three died so violently made me like the other two even more and that is the hallmark of good writing.

When a series is written by a mixture of authors, it is certain to suffer from unevenness and Covert One does have that problem. The two by Gayle Lynds are very good while the one by Philip Shelby really isn't.

Nevertheless, I liked the series enough to want more. I just hope that they are from the hands of Ms. Lynds or someone else with as much talent. The ones by Mr. Larkin and Mr. Cobb haven't been read yet so I reserve comment.

It is my opinion that Robert Ludlum, or his agent, saw and appreciated the terrific success that Tom Clancy was having using his name to extend beyond his regular work the reach of his fame (Power Plays, Op-Center, and Net Force). Having written twenty-plus best sellers on his own, he created this series about Covert-One and looked for authors to write them. He died soon after the series started.


My Grade: B-


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