The Bourne Imperative
Like Ian Fleming's iconic James Bond, Robert Ludlum's Jason Bourne has entered popular culture through both films (starring Matt Damon) and by the long-running series of books penned first by the late Ludlum and now by his successor Eric Van Lustbader.
In The Bourne Imperative(Grand Central Publishing, $27.99), Bourne remains both the hunter and the hunted, displaying significant survival skills and deftness with intelligence information. While the formula of global chases and mortal hand-to-hand combat of the Bourne series may not be surprising in itself, Van Lustbader's quick pace but yet highly detailed moments in addition to his willingness to torment or kill characters add to the heart-palpitating, high stakes world in which Bourne and his colleagues inhabit. The spy world is populated by attractive, surprisingly reflective people for whom survival is never certain.
In The Bourne Imperative, Bourne relives his own oldest memory of being fished out of foreign waters, confused and suffering from amnesia from which he's never recovered. He and his friend Christien pull a wounded man from icy Swedish waters and it seems that the pattern begins anew. Like Bourne, the man has lost his memory but shows an aptitude for languages and self-preservation, adopting “Alef” as his moniker and relying on Bourne's help in reestablishing himself. Soon after Alef's rescue, Israeli Mossad agent Rebeka appears, complicating Bourne's own mission, resulting in intense action in bloody cartel-ridden Mexico and and the brutally violent deserts of the Middle East.
While Bourne treks around the world, Treadstone co-directors Peter Marks and Soraya Moore battle their own problems. While constantly embattled in political frays over the need for both their secrecy and funding from the government, this time their difficulties become much more personal. Soraya considers leaving Treadstone, especially after facing something Bourne could never imagine. Confused by Soraya's intention and other pressing occupational hazards, Peter throws himself into the current espionage puzzle illuminated by Bourne's intelligence and Treadstone's research.
While Peter and Soraya keep The Bourne Imperative grounded, the thriller feels most dangerous when centered on Bourne, a man whom neither allies nor enemies can predict. Even when endowed with emotion and self-doubt, Jason Bourne remains a dedicated, ruthlessly single-minded threat to those who imperil the United States. Eric Van Lustbader (Black Heart, The Pearl Saga) continues to expand on Ludlum's vision while adding his own considerable talent of keeping Bourne fresh and relevant throughout this thrilling page-turner.
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