The Osterman Weekend

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This article is about the novel. For the film adaptation, see The Osterman Weekend (film).
The Osterman Weekend
TheOstermanWeekend.jpg
First edition
Author Robert Ludlum
Country United States
Language English
Genre Thriller novel
Publisher World Publishing
Publication date
1972
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 315 pp
ISBN 0-529-04547-8
OCLC 279044
813/.5/4
LC Class PZ4.L9455 Os PS3562.U26

The Osterman Weekend is a thriller novel by Robert Ludlum. First published in 1972, it was the author's second book. The novel was the basis for the film of the same title.

Plot introduction[edit]

John Tanner, the host of an investigative news show, is convinced by a CIA agent that the friends he has invited to a weekend in the country are engaged in a conspiracy, called Omega, that threatens national security. But then everything John Tanner thinks he knows about his closest friends is overturned, and he is set against them. But when Omega finally reveals itself, he realizes that he has been manipulated from the very start.

The novel begins with CIA director Maxwell Danforth watching a filmed recording of agent Laurence Fassett and his wife making love. When Fassett goes into the bathroom to take a shower, two assassins enter the bedroom and kill his wife by holding her down and injecting poison into her nostril with a syringe. It is hinted that the woman was an innocent bystander sacrificed by Danforth as collateral damage. Fassett, unaware of his employer's involvement, goes almost insane with grief and rage and begins to hunt down the assassins, eventually uncovering a Soviet spy network known as Omega.

Fassett is called into the director's office and says that he wants to turn some of Omega's agents to the side of the West, and he has the perfect opportunity in John Tanner, a controversial television journalist, highly critical of government abuses of power. Fassett explains that Tanner's closest friends are Omega agents. He believes Tanner could turn the Soviet spies into defecting. For proof, he offers videotaped evidence of Tanner's friends discussing financial matters with a Russian man, whom Fassett identifies as KGB. Tanner had met his friends years ago in college, and they have all gone on to successful careers. The spies are Bernard Osterman, a television producer, and two others: Richard Tremayne, a plastic surgeon, and stock trader Joseph Cardone. Tanner agrees, but only on the condition that someone from the CIA appear as a guest on his show. Danforth agrees to this condition.

Tanner has a troubled marriage with his wife Ali that is not helped when Tanner asks her to avoid the upcoming "Osterman weekend" and to take their son. He does not want to involve them in the events but cannot tell her why he wants her to stay away. While Tanner is driving his wife and son to the airport, their car is ambushed, and Ali and the child are kidnapped. With Fassett's intervention they are rescued unhurt and the kidnapper is shot dead. In the meantime, Tanner's home has been wired with closed circuit video so Fassett can gather more evidence.

The three arrive for the weekend, each having recently encountered difficulties engineered by the CIA in order to unsettle them and make them receptive to 'turning.' Tensions flare up and on the second night Fassett puts a video-feed on Tanner's living room television, showing video evidence of the spy ring to the traitors. Having reached breaking point, Ali and Virginia, Tremayne's wife, end up in a brief scuffle and everyone goes to their rooms. Tanner's son discovers the severed head of the family dog in the refrigerator, but this turns out to be a fake head. Tanner has had enough and orders everyone out of his house and then confronts Fassett and presents an ultimatum: arrest the suspects. Fassett orders a guard to kill the broadcaster.

Meanwhile, Cardone and Tremayne have taken their wives and escaped in the Tanner's RV. Tanner confronts Osterman and tries to attack him but Osterman easily overpowers the television reporter and demands to know what is going on. Tanner tells him that he knows that Osterman and his friends are Soviet agents, which Osterman dismisses as being ridiculous. He states that they have been illegally stashing money away in Swiss bank accounts to avoid taxation, saying that "It ain't legal, but it sure as hell isn't traitorous."

Then Fassett reappears on the television by closed circuit, admitting the truth: his friends are nothing more than tax evaders. Nevertheless, Fassett kills the Tremaynes and Cardones by detonating an explosive device on the RV by remote control and then orders his soldiers into the house to kill Osterman and Tanner. Using the televisions in the house and the video cameras, Fassett taunts Tanner during the attack on the house, having learned that Danforth authorized his wife's murder. Fassett tells Tanner he will give his family back to him if he will expose Danforth on air.

After an interval, we see Danforth preparing for his remote interview with Tanner. Danforth is at his office and will speak into a camera and microphone crewed by the TV station. Tanner introduces Fassett on the air and Danforth explodes into a rage when he discovers he has been tricked. Fassett, who is also being filmed remotely, exposes Danforth as a murderer. Fassett's remote location is a secret, but it is clear someone is coming for him. It is revealed that Tanner himself has pre-recorded his questions for both men and has used the video feed to locate Fassett, whom he shoots and kills. He then rescues his wife, son, and his dog.