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The Bourne Legacy
Eric Van Lustbader
Orion hardcover £17.99

review by Cristopher Hennessey-DeRose

There will always be a need from fans of Robert Ludlum's masterful thrillers for more, specifically with what is arguably his most popular and compelling character, Jason Bourne. Author Eric Van Lustbader, himself notable for several of his own thrillers, has been given the unenviable job of picking up where the late master left off, David Webb, alias Jason Bourne, picking up the pieces of his life, and trying to forge a new one.

The worst possible thing an author who is continuing a character with such a devoted and critical following can do is to change that character's world and to put so much of his own writing style into the work so as to be conspicuous. John Gardner proved that with another beloved character, Ian Fleming's James Bond, and was all but stoned in the streets. Lustbader avoids all this, deftly stepping aside not only radical changes (although the world has continued to turn since Robert Ludlum's death in 2001 and Lustbader makes no bones about it) but also not putting too much of his own writing style into the work, although this is clearly not a Ludlum book, it is by far the work of a gun-for-hire. Indeed, the reader can almost see Lustbader's smile as he composes the story. He is an author with an obvious affinity for the character and the world Bourne inhabits. Further still, he is truly an authority on the Jason Bourne character. This is obviously something that would seem to be a prerequisite for writing such a thing, but more often than not, it seems more the ideal rather than the reality.

It is years following The Bourne Identity; David Webb has put the CIA behind him, moving on to teach at Georgetown University. When a skilled attempt at his life is made in the middle of the day at the University, he goes to those who are closest to his identity of Jason Bourne, only to find them murdered and himself framed. Fleeing police, then the CIA who believes him to have gone rogue, the part of Webb that is Jason Bourne comes to the fore, completely in control. As Bourne, he must use every manner of wit and survival skills as he fights for his life in a world that contains only assassins and people lurking in shadow and nothing, not even Bourne, is what it seems.

Eric Van Lustbader's Bourne and the story surrounding him are examples that there are other things related to the continuance of a given character following the death of its creator other than money and the continuance of the franchise. There is passion for the genre and love of the character. The Bourne Legacy is not only a compelling read, but it also a book that reminded me that I had not read such a thing with such enjoyment for quite a while.

Lustbader spends a good amount of time reminding us of Jason Bourne's darkness constantly overshadowing David Webb's persona, and when it comes to fleshing out the detail of the Webb/Bourne identities, and providing the backstory for those who may pick this volume up as it coincides with Matt Damon's second go-round as Bourne in The Bourne Supremacy, the author doesn't allow his storytelling to be mired in minute detail and page after page of material that could very well have been cut-and-pasted from Ludlum's novels that came before it. This is an admirable trait, to say the least, and a rare one.

Is Lustbader's Bourne as good as Ludlum's? I'm not entirely sure that is a fair question. One is the creator, the other someone having a ball in someone else's sandbox, writing a book that I wish had seen the light of day a lot sooner, and doing a damn fine job of it. Lustbader is not Ludlum, but he is not trying to be. He is not making some vain attempt to fill Ludlum's shoes (which would only be deemed suicide), but putting his own on and taking a journey - a journey that, luckily enough, he has seen fit to invite us on.
The Bourne Legacy

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