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Bourne again, with changes

‘Bourne’ series takes detour  into introspection

By Matthew J. Meyer

For The Free Lance-Star

THE RECENT summer release of a new action-packed “Bourne” movie reflects the popularity of that franchise, first created in print by Robert Ludlum and continued successfully for several years now by Eric Van Lustbader.

Featuring nonstop action, “The Bourne Imperative” begins in the icy waters along the coast of Sweden as Jason rescues a wounded half-drowned man who has lost his  memory—a condition that echoes  Bourne’s own amnesia in earlier stories. He soon discovers that Rebekah, a Mossad agent with whom he escaped disaster a few weeks previously, has gone rogue from her agency in order to locate this man Jason has just rescued.

What follows is their attempt to elude a terrorist assassin while  discovering the identity and secrets of the mysterious man with no memory. The story involves a worldwide conspiracy of intelligence services from Washington, Tel Aviv and Beijing; a multinational energy corporation; and South American drug lords.

The reader is led on a complex journey filled with dizzying betrayals and alliances.  At its center, Jason Bourne is determined to prevail.

But “The Bourne Imperative” is a different kind of  Bourne novel.  Van Lustbader continues to modernize the series in several ways.   He broadens Bourne’s traditional struggle with corrupt elements of the nation state to include international criminal and corrupt corporate entities, as well.

He develops a surprising number of powerful multidimensional female  characters, in complex nontraditional relationships with the men in the story.

Finally, he demonstrates that the cold, calculating methods used by both “good” and “bad” sides are not very different from each  other.

In a world where the politics of expediency trump the politics of ideology, Bourne plays the role of the joker in the deck. As the wild card, though, he is used by both sides for their  own purposes.   And worse, Jason realizes that, because of what he has become, he is lost—a lost soul in a world where there is no viable place for him.

Longtime Bourne fans will have to decide whether they like the direction Eric Van Lustbader has taken the series.

New readers will find “The Bourne Imperative” a modern espionage thriller that speaks to the world we live in now.

Matthew J. Meyer is a freelance reviewer in Spotsylvania County.


By Eric Van Lustbader

(Grand Central, $27.99,  448 pp.)


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