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Don't come in yet, number 8
on 7 June 2010
Like many readers of action thrillers, I was hooked on Jason Bourne with Robert Ludlum's first three books way back when. Thanks to Eric Van Lustbader, this `superhero' is kept alive and kicking in the original's great tradition. This book, is part of a trilogy, too - the last part so, unless you're in the groove, as it were, it's complicated. There is Arkadin, there's Soraya Moore showing Bourne and us, the face of moderate Islam, both from earlier episodes but, as always, some very heavy newcomers to the storyline.
Bourne's loss of memory contines to plague him at crucial moments, as he hunts down the killer of an art-dealer friend. She entrusted to him a piece of jewellery which, surprise, surprise, means a great deal more than first thought. Others intent on obtaining the curiously engraved ring believe it will help their cause for world dominance, so, inevitably, Severus Domna will take any action to locate it and use it. That the ring is, in fact, a sort of USB for a missing laptop brings us up to date with technology but there is still the matter of the good old-fashioned Russian killer, Leonid Arkadin, to deal with. Arkadin was similarly trained by Treadstone, Bourne's original outfit before he morphed into a rogue element and is responsible for the killing of Bourne's friend, Tracy Atherton, so the scene is set for a thrilling chase, the hunter hunted, helped along the way by just about everybody else wishing to see Bourne (and, indeed Arkadin) summarily disposed of.
This is number 8 in the long-running series and it won't spoil this book to suggest that number 9 will still fixate on Bourne's amnesia as he uses all his skills to stay alive and discover who he really is, whilst keeping one step ahead of so many enemies. The author writes a great action thriller, very much in the vein of Robert Ludlum but certainly in his own inimitable style. Helped along the way by some marvellous films, there is no let up in Bourne's popularity and this book will do it no harm, either. With such a long list of characters, it can, at times, become a little confusing, especially when there are several global scene changes within the same chapter but don't let this put you off. There's a breath-taking finale which makes all the earlier roller-coaster pages so worthwhile; I'm sure you'll be impatient for book 9, to say the least.