Review: The Bourne Identity – Robert Ludlum

Series: Jason Bourne 1

My version: Paperback
Genre: Fiction, espionage
Orion Publishing Co
First published: 2016 (this version)
ISBN: 9781409167860
Pages: 576

From the cover:
He was found floating in the sea, nearly dead. A man with no past. Implanted beneath his skin is a frame of microfilm. And on the film is a number which leads to a Zurich bank account in the name of Jason Bourne holding four million dollars.
Suddenly Bourne is the target of assassins and at the heart of a deadly puzzle. He’s fighting for survival as he tries to uncover the layers of his buried past. No one can help him – except one woman. And now both their lives are in danger.

I’ve got to say that this was something of a disappointment. It was a bit too messy, a little too unfocused – despite coming down to a one-on-one between Bourne and Carlos (The Jackal). You can see why the film(s) took the basic building-blocks – the memory loss, fished out the sea, finding out who he was/is, a romance with the girl – but ditched the rest. Of course they were going to ditch Carlos the Jackal angle too, as that would have dated it tremendously (quite apart from half of today’s audience not having a clue who Carlos the Jackal was). The story got all bogged down with the Delta is Cain, Cain for Carlos (etc) stuff, and the Treadstone stuff and generally spread the finding out, over way too many pages. Then the revelation wasn’t as stunning as I’m sure it had been hoped – after you had waded through all the previous, and – at the time of first publishing. The new covers, for the early books (so far), are a vast improvement on previous versions anyway.

Quite why Robert Ludlum wanted Bourne up against a real, actual, person, is anyone’s guess. Maybe he was thinking Bourne would become a new Bond, that’s certainly what one reviewer – the one quoted on the cover – thought. Then, there’s the why is it set in Europe angle again? More and more I notice that Thrillers, written by US writers and featuring US characters, are set in Europe. Why is that? Clearly, as I’ve mused before, Europe is the place where they do things like that over there…

Whatever I might think about how the book is, reading it in 2019 against when it was written back in 1980 – perhaps it’s because ithas dated a little more than I remembered – it is good to get back and see what Robert Ludlum did with his Bourne, as Bourne is his creation after all. In relation, that is, to the subsequent Eric Van Lustbader continuation (EVL has written more Bournes than Ludlum, so I could argue that today’s Bourne is more his, than Ludlum’s!), and in the period before the new Treadstone, not a continuation necessarily, of Bourne, books come out next year (written by the not at all unknown to me, Joshua Whatshisname…

You can buy (this version) The Bourne Identity from The Book Depository

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