Burning up the pages
JASON Bourne is back! Eric van Lustbader’s eighth book continuing the late Robert Ludlum’s popular Bourne series is a gripping look into the murky world of international espionage, featuring corrupt Chinese politicians and feuding Mexican drug lords. And in the midst of it all: Jason Bourne, courtesy of the Mossad, Israel’s spy agency.
Bringing the same action vibe as his previous books in the series, Lustbader manages again to capture the essence of the master spy, faithfully carrying on the legacy entrusted to him by the Ludlum estate. Lustbader’s Bourne is every bit the consummate spy, straddling the grey area between professionalism and passion.
In The Bourne Retribution, Lustbader brings us a story of love, greed and betrayal, taking us from the city of Shanghai to the jungles of Mexico while all along the way giving us ample examples of Bourne’s prowess in the field. This book, which takes up directly from the events of the last book, The Bourne Imperative, finds Bourne recuperating after the death of Sara Yadin, a Mossad operative and daughter of Mossad director Eli Yadin.
Through cunning manipulation on the part of Eli, Bourne is manoeuvred into a mission serving two purposes: One, to root out several highly placed moles within the Mossad, and two, to flush out and exact retribution on those people responsible for the death of Sara Yadin.
As expected, Bourne dives right in, wreaking havoc, first within the underworld of Shanghai, then with a messy urban war in Mexico, where he uncovers the insidious corruption that drug money brings before returning to the political arena of China, where history is being made.
In typical Bourne fashion, he makes some friends along the way, some converts, others loyalist faithful. Even the daughter of one of Mexico’s biggest drug lords (he was killed in the last book by Bourne) is not immune to the sheer force that is Bourne. She becomes at first, a reluctant ally, then later a convert, fully baptised on the altar of Jason Bourne.
The Chinese political environment is interesting, as is usual for a Bourne novel. Deng Tsu, known in the upper echelons of power as the Patriarch, is a crafty strategist, playing the traditional Minister Cho against the modern Minister Ouyang.
I enjoyed the consistent pace of the book, and felt that even the odd lull in action between pivotal scenes contributed to the overall feel of the story. I was able to read this book straight through, without putting it down once.
The writing is classic Ludlum, with his trademark simplistic prose evident in many places. Lustbader channels Ludlum very well, while bringing to bear his own outstanding style of writing to fill in the spaces between.
As mentioned above, the Chinese element is where Bourne always seems to shine, as he brings his past experiences and his flair for Eastern languages out to play. Bourne is as capable an operative in Asia as he has ever been, building on both his David Webb persona and his previous life as the killer known only as Delta.
One of the only shortcomings I find in this as well as the last few Jason Bourne novels is that there is never any clear indication of what happens to his wife, Marie, and their two children. This is unfortunate as Jason’s relationship with Marie forms a large and important part of his persona. As such, I felt that there was still a large hole in the plot and that this makes it very difficult to bridge Jason Bourne to David Webb, always leaving me trying to put the pieces together.
Overall, though, I found the book entertaining. As a Jason Bourne fan, having read and re-read both the Ludlum as well as Lustbader series, I have some questions about the continuity of the character, and how Jason Bourne, as David Webb relates to Jason Bourne in this and the past three novels. However, I feel that most fans of the spy and thriller genres will enjoy this book without thinking too hard about the missing pieces. I am looking forward to the next Jason Bourne, due for release later this year.