Review: The Bourne Dominion

The Bourne Dominion
The Bourne Dominion by Eric Van Lustbader
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love what Eric Van Lustbader is doing/has done in continuing Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne series of novels. Not least sticking to Ludlum’s idea that a book title should only have three words. ‘The’ being counted as one of them. Check it out.

And the good thing with these Bourne books, you get what you paid for. The plots are always reasonably water-tight and involve plenty of globe-trotting action (obviously without explaining where he gets the (large amounts of) country-relevant cash in each country from, though the Eurozone must be a god-send to modern Bourne-like spies, I guess).

‘Dominion’ is a little more ‘world-wide master plan’-like, than the previous one I read (and I do seem to have skipped ahead a couple of volumes with this one – unintentional and a little confusing at times), but it holds your interest and there is a good flow to it. Though, if I have to be honest, the machinations of pan-global, hyper-secret and ages-old criminal organisations aren’t where this book – or the whole of the Bourne-genre – work best for me. These stories work best concentrating in on simple problems, simple communications and on Bourne merely trying to do the right thing. Getting mixed up with and listening to tales of the childhood of shady, mega-rich, cigar-smoking ‘Mr Fixits’ isn’t where this book works best. Though Don Fernando does remind me of him there, from James Bond ‘Casino Royale’. The film version, you know who I mean.

But hey, you know where you are with a Bourne. Though often, you don’t. Trust no one, suspect everyone. Everyone is suspicious, everyone could be less or more than what they seem. There are no chance encounters, no one is who they say they are, no one means or does, what they say. Red herrings are always red herrings in disguise. And as for suspense – there are times when you have to look up, take a look around. What was that creak?! A look behind you, just in case, before reading on.

As for Jason Bourne himself. Well, he feels different in this book. I can’t quite put my finger on exactly why, but he does. More sure, maybe. More certain in his actions and commands and a lot less bothered by the ‘voices’ in his head, than the last one I read. More deadly too, I think. Here he seems tougher more inclined to using violence to solve a situation. He certainly uses some pretty underhand and (quite probably) painful fighting tactics. Then, what did strike me, when thinking about Bourne while reading this, was that I can’t actually remember in this book, or in other Eric Van Lustbader ‘Bournes’ actually, Bourne himself ever being described physically in any detail. I guess we all have our ideas, but I, of course, see Matt Damon. Only taller.

The central sections scenes do come fast and furious, they’re a regular machine-gun burst of frantic action and the book races along like mad. However, if anything, it does jump around between places and story threads a bit more than I’d really like. I’m working at least as frantically as Bourne is at keeping up with all the plot developments. There are a couple of times, again in the middle, perhaps I can dare say, where there are a few too many strands dangling at any one time and the cutting between strands, at first very exciting, can wear a bit. It can feel a bit like one of those pop video where they constantly cut from angle to angle, without letting your eye and brain take in all the elements properly.

Anything else wrong? Well, not much and maybe just me, but: Fortunately only twice does someone hate (or love) something “with every fibre of (their) being”, which is a lot less than most thrillers of this ilk (yes, I’ve corrected the spelling) which would mean that your ‘being’ was made of, at least in part, fibre. Or fibres. And, I do wish people would call each other by dialling the number, rather than ‘punching’ it in. It’s meaningless and unnecessary. Not to mention physically impossible on modern telephones. And, admittedly I don’t have the very latest up-to-date dictionary, but I’m pretty sure Eric Van Lustbader has made ‘hypervigilant’ up. But then, not many spy thrillers that have a Bob Dylan-quoting Russian intelligence operative. So all is forgiven.

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