The Bourne Objective by Eric Van Lustbader

The Bourne Objective by Eric Van Lustbader

Copyright 2010 by Myn Pyn, LLC

Published and distributed in the U.S. by Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Book Group, 237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017

ISBN 978-0-446-53981-4, Available in multiple formats from Amazon and Barnes and Noble; also available at your local bookstores

The Bourne Objective by Eric Van Lustbader is the eighth title in the series of “Bourne” novels begun thirty-years ago by writer Robert Ludlum. The main character, Jason Bourne is a former covert agent, the end product of a black op government training program named Treadstone. Fans of the character feared that Bourne was finished when series creator Robert Ludlum passed away in 2001, but Eric Van Lustbader took up the series under a Robert Ludlum trademark and has written five books since Ludlum’s death.

In this book Bourne is confronted by yet more ghosts from his past. He is haunted by events from his recent past, but also by the ghosts that echo throughout his amnesiac brain, filling him with fear of what his life may yet hold for him to discover.

As The Bourne Objective begins Bourne is shaken by the recent death of a friend and is in Bali where a Mangku, basically a combination of a high priest and a shaman, named Suparwita, is filling Bourne in on a woman from Bourne’s past. The woman, a Holly Marie Moreau was killed some time ago in front of Bourne’s eyes. Bourne, after killing her murderer has come into the possession of  a ring of Ms. Moreau’s. With the ring, this thriller begins to move forward; however, before Bourne leaves Suparwita, the shaman shares some grave news. Before the year is over Bourne will die and he must do this in order to save those he cares about. The question now becomes how, when and where will Bourne die?

A man named Arkadin was involved in the much more recent death that has shaken Bourne and Bourne wants revenge. Bourne and Arkadin are two graduates of the black op training program, Treadstone. Different training was used for each man, so they aren’t exactly alike, but both are highly trained killing machines. Life, death and circumstance has set the two men on a collision course destined to mean the end for one, or both of them. Time, and the pen of Eric Van Lustbader are the only things in on the secret…at least until you get to the last pages of the book. No peeking ahead, that’s cheating.

What follows is a brief excerpt from the early pages of the story. It is written from the point of view of Bourne’s foe, Arkadin and recalls a memory of the day he met the girl Jason Bourne now wants to avenge:

“The air had suddenly been perfumed with the tincture of history, a spicy, mysterious scent of rose and cedar. Much later he’d worked out what it was that drew him as well as shamed him. He felt like a student, too ignorant or truant to have learned his lessons. Around her he’d always felt his lack of formal education, like a nakedness. And yet, even from that first meeting, he sensed a use for her, that he could absorb what she had learned. He learned from her the value of knowledge, but part of him never forgave her for the way she made him feel, and he used her mercilessly, treated her cruelly, as he bound her ever closer to him.

This clarity came later, of course. At the moment all he felt was an onrush of anger and, without a word, he whirled away from her, stalking off to find Oserov, whose company, for the moment, seemed preferable to this creature’s.

But finding Oserov did nothing to allay his sudden discomfort, so he insisted on changing protocol, removing them from the Hermitage altogether. They walked out onto Millionnaya Street, where he found a cafe before their lips and cheeks grew too chapped from the icy wind.

Snow had begun to fall with an odd dry rustle like predators snuffling in the underbrush, and Arkadin would never forget how Tracy Atherton had materialized out of it. Her deerskin coat swayed about her ankles like icy surf.”

Eric Van Lustbader writes lovely prose and spins a good story. There is plenty of tension and suspense in The Bourne Objective. His work is probably as well researched as that of his predecessor Ludlum. Eric Van Lustbader’s work isn’t as good as Ludlum’s was, but it is  helped by the fact that Jason Bourne was already an established character by the time he came on board and several movies about Bourne have been made drumming up interest in the character. Finally the  fact that Robert Ludlum’s name, even as a trademark, is attached to the book gives it credibility. I have even seen the book erroneously reviewed as being written by the two of them. Sadly, this is not the case. Ludlum died in 2001 leaving no known unpublished “Bourne” works behind.

The Bourne Objective is good, but not great. It makes me want to read the books in between The Bourne Ultimatum and The Bourne Objective, but not because of any great merit on the book’s part. I want to read the intervening novels because I care about the character of Jason Bourne, his fight against the system and the way he fights back when the wrong things are allowed to happen just under the radar so to speak. If I hadn’t already been a Ludlum fan and read the first three books, I would have found nothing about this book to recommend purchasing another one. If you’re going to read the novels by Eric Van Lustbader and haven’t already read Ludlum’s “Bourne” novels I suggest you do as there are wide variations in story lines between the books and the film versions by the same names.

For those of you who might be interested, the titles in the “Bourne” series are: The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum by Robert Ludlum. By Eric Van Lustbader we have The Bourne Deception, The Bourne Sanction, The Bourne Betrayal, The Bourne Legacy and this novel The Bourne Objective. Based on my evaluation of The Bourne Objective, I recommend reading Eric Van Lustbader’s body of “Bourne” novels only if you’re a die-hard Jason Bourne fan.

The Bourne Objective is well on its way into the Pigeon Droppings category. If it weren’t for the trademark of Robert Ludlum’s name, it wouldn’t stand a chance of staying out of the dung heap.

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