Review

Robert Ludlum’s™ the Bourne Objective

by Eric Van Lustbader

Robert Ludlum passed away in 2001, bringing an impressive and
long-running literary career to an unfortunate end. None of his
work had more impact than the Jason Bourne series; its three novels
were all turned into successful films starring Matt Damon, and
Ludlum was able to work as an executive producer on The Bourne
Identity
. Thankfully, in the same way that John Gardner and
other authors have kept Ian Fleming’s James Bond series
alive, Eric Van Lustbader has continued the Bourne saga with five
additional books thus far.

THE BOURNE OBJECTIVE completes a three-novel arc revolving
around the same mission. Following THE BOURNE SANCTION and THE
BOURNE DECEPTION, it picks up the action after Bourne’s
witnessing of the murder of his friend/comrade, art dealer Tracy
Atherton. It turns out that Tracy was much more than an art dealer,
and her involvement in the world of international espionage put her
in harm’s way where even Bourne was unable to protect
her.

The person responsible for her death is Russian mercenary and
spy Leonid Arkadin. What makes Arkadin particularly terrifying is
the fact that, like Bourne himself, he was originally trained by
Treadstone, an unsanctioned, covert group that churned out
superspies who were also experts in detection and killing. What
will happen when two equally skilled and trained operatives like
Arkadin and Bourne finally come face to face with each other? The
suspense of that eventual meeting keeps the reader hanging until
nearly the last chapter of this fast-paced and exciting novel.

Fans of the series realize that Bourne suffers from a
debilitating case of amnesia whereby he is unable to fully recall
past events easily and has a really bad “identity”
crisis. Born David Webb, the operative known as Jason Bourne has
utilized a number of different guises. Here, he is known by many as
Adam Stone, who allegedly was also a professor at Oxford. He uses
this identity to befriend Chrissie, Tracy’s sister. By
indicating that he was present when she was killed and promising to
avenge her death, Chrissie has no choice but to aid Bourne in
uncovering the secrets behind the strangely engraved ring that he
carries. After meeting with another Oxford professor who is a
friend of Chrissie’s, Bourne is educated about the cryptic
background of this mysterious ring. Once decoded, its message
points towards an ominous and secret group known as Severus Domna,
whose name is a blend of Old Persian and Latin and whose members
are still active and very dangerous.

Bourne was also purported to have come into the possession of a
laptop that is to be utilized with the ring. The legend states that
inserting the ring into the laptop will uncover certain secrets ---
including the location of King Solomon’s gold. Unfortunately,
Bourne’s recurring amnesia does not allow him to recall how
he obtained the laptop or where it may be. Arkadin and members of
other covert groups also are in search of this hot item. To further
confuse matters, rumors of Treadstone being resurrected by American
sleeper agent Frederick Willard makes this a race to the death as
his group is pursuing the laptop as well.

The struggle with following Jason Bourne in any of these novels
is that he is frustrated by his own limitations of memory. The
official line from Central Intelligence on Bourne is that his
amnesia has made him unpredictable and therefore dangerous. He is a
rogue agent and loyal to no one or nothing, least of all CI. With
members of CI, the new Treadstone, and other rogue operatives
moving around the globe to defeat each other and claim possession
to the secrets of Severus Domna, the action is at a breakneck
speed, and you cannot look away for a split second for fear of
missing something important. At times, I wish Lustbader had
included a glossary of characters as the interlocking relationships
of the dozens of individuals featured here become dizzying ---
oftentimes jumping between their simultaneous storylines within the
same chapter. Then again, it wouldn’t be a Jason Bourne novel
if your memory wasn’t tested.

Can Bourne avenge Tracy Atherton, stop Leonid Arkadin, stay one
step ahead of the new Treadstone and CI, and recover the missing
laptop? Suffice it to say that all is wrapped up by the end of the
novel, and the last few chapters will have readers gasping for
breath. It is reassuring to know that, in the able hands of Eric
Van Lustbader, Jason Bourne is alive and well and continuing to
search for the truth to his own existence and overall purpose.
Here’s hoping that Lustbader keeps this classic character
going for more episodes of international intrigue and
adventure.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on December 22, 2010

Robert Ludlum’s™ the Bourne Objective
by Eric Van Lustbader

  • Publication Date: June 1, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 0446539813
  • ISBN-13: 9780446539814