I picked up The Rhinemann Exchange for 40p in a charity shop and I can confidently say that it is the best 40p I have ever spent. The only thing I can think of that even costs 40p is a first class stamp but I would advise you not buy the stamp but The Rhinemann Exchange instead. Let me explain why.
I live in a flat by myself and consequently have post it notes with “KEYS!” written on them adorning my walls. As per usual I left my room without them and only realised that when I was a too far away to attempt a painful flying dive to stop the door. My curse had already begun when I heard a dull thud instead of the click of a door closing.
My copy of The Rhinemann Exchange had fallen to the floor and wedged the door open. A stamp would not have done that. However The Rhinemann Exchange is more than just a life saving door stop, it is also one of the best books I have picked up on impulse.
This is because it has everything a top notch thriller should have; a heroic protagonist and crafty villains, beautiful women, action aplenty and more deceptions than you could shake a shady stick at.
Underlying many of Ludlum’s works, such as The Materese Circle, is a certain ring of truth, a plot which is based on supposed happenings or rumours of underground dealings. This is no exception. The Faustian bargain was planned at the climax of the First World War though never happened. Here we have a book with a similar secretive bargain happening at the end of the Second World War. And the bargain lies central to the story.
Ludlum creates a world of mystery and intrigue based at the end of the Second World War. David Spaulding, who all men aspire to be although they may not know it, is a top level spy based in Lisbon who is entrusted with the procurement of gyroscopes from the Nazis in Buenos Aires. Little does he know that the Allies are exchanging some vital diamonds for the gyroscopes and that, in truth, both sides are aiding each others war efforts. However neither side is playing fair and Spaulding soon finds himself in the middle of an escalating situation only he does not know what the situation is. Much like Jason Bourne, from Ludlum’s equally excellent Bourne Identity, Spaulding is in the dark until he eventually sees the whole picture. He decides to stop the exchange culminating in a bloody battle at Rhinemann’s palace.
So why are Ludlum’s, alongside Forsyth’s, novels standing the test of time? Put simply no-one quite writes like Ludlum any more. His fanatical attention to detail puts the reader in a bubble. You find yourself completely immersed in the story, happily drowning in the fiction whilst watching reality slip away. You forget you are in your cold flat but feel as though you are alongside Spaulding trying to do the impossible and keep him safe. He is the ultimate hero, likeable, dashing, heroic but most importantly you can empathise with him. His background is well constructed and you understand that he is a man like you only one who has been honed into what he is today. However he does not accept the tag of “the man from Lisbon” but constantly tries to shake it off. He is sous chef who flips burgers for a living. The chef who does what he has to to pay the bills. Spaulding kills because he has no choice. We can empathise with that situation, one in which we do what we have!
to, not what we want to.
And this book boils down to choice. Spaulding chooses not to simply walk away. The Allies and Nazis choose to aid each others war efforts. But most importantly the reader has the choice whether to pick up another standard John ‘legal action’ Grisham novel or to pick up a classic. Pick up a Ludlum; they are the books that David Spaulding would read.
- 10 Movies That Were Way Better Than the Books (bestcollegesonline.net)