I’ve decided to do a longer review of this book than the first four, mostly because I can. This is the second book written by Lustbader and it further reinforces the difference between Ludlum and Lustbader. When Ludlam was the writer he portrayed a very multidimensional character that went far beyond the usual “James Bond” normally seen in this genre. In book one while he was running for his life we see Bourne struggling with the question of who he is. In book two he is busy trying to fulfill his mission while struggling with the duality of the Borne and Webb identities. In book three we watch as Bourne struggles with the impact of his advancing age. In each of the three books the conclusion ties both the James Bond action and the other aspects of the story up and leaves very few questions unanswered. If Bourne is injured at the beginning of a section he stays injured for the rest of the story, healing at what would be a normal rate. Time, place and season are all correct and complete.
In Lustbader’s version of the series the deeper aspects of Bourne are lost. When book three closes we leave a Jason Bourne who is clearly struggling with the idea that he is nearing 50 and he can no longer perform physically as he could before. There is a very marked tension between the two aspects of his personality. In the books by Lustbader his age is never mentioned again. The two aspects have seemed to reach a peaceful accord where the proper personality takes control at the proper time. Once Lustbader takes over the multidimensional Jason Bourne/David Webb character becomes a paper thin James Bond.
Having said all that, this was a very enjoyable book to read. The basic plot involves Islamic terrorists and I felt like Lustbader did a very nice job of fleshing out their motivations and emotions that drive their actions. The plot was more straight forward than previous books and there was many fewer characters as well. While there wasn’t much real growth in Bourne, we did get to meet some new, fun people. I particularly enjoyed meeting Soraya and Tyrone. Soraya filled the same role as Marie in previous books as the very competent female foil for Bourne without the angle of the love interest. Tyrone was cast in the role of Cactus the younger and I really enjoyed his resourcefulness and drive. If a movie is every made of this story Tyrone will steal the show.
As to problems or shortcomings, the book ended with more of a whimper than a bang, and left a number of loose threads that I didn’t think were tied off well enough. I would loved to have heard a bit more from Soraya and Tyrone after the book ended, perhaps that will come in the next book. Finally, there were a few glitches in the book. There was a scene where our man Jason was stabbed in the side and then spent the next 24 to 36 hours dealing with it and then all of a sudden it wasn’t a problem any more. I don’t remember this ever happening in the Ludlum books.
Overall I give the book a Transformers rating, lots of fun to read, very engaging but not a lot meat. There isn’t a lot of swearing, no sex at all that I can remember and tons and tons of huge, over the top violence. Read it and enjoy.