Fiction's most famous amnesiac/superspy, Jason Bourne, experiences some wild déjà vu in THE BOURNE IMPERATIVE.
The novel opens with him and his colleague, Christien, fishing a body out of the freezing water off the coast of Sweden. It turns out the nameless man they rescued has a background quite similar to Bourne. He had been shot by a Mossad agent named Rebeka, who Bourne has previously worked alongside of. As the man begins to regain his memory --- much quicker than Bourne himself had during his own bout of amnesia --- he quickly realizes who Bourne is and the fact that they are players on opposing sides of a global drama that is quickly unfolding.
Bourne's former agency, Treadstone, has been quite busy in tracking the situation that seems to have originated in a secret encampment in southeast Lebanon. Ironically, this is the same encampment that Bourne and Rebeka escaped from in the previous Bourne novel. The heads of Treadstone, Soraya Moore and Peter Marks, both are on the trail of a mythic terrorist known only as Nicodemo, who appears to be the key to a global terrorist plot.
Once Rebeka reunites with Bourne, the nameless man in his care quickly recognizes her and the games begin. Could this nameless man be the infamous assassin/terrorist Nicodemo? His skills easily match those of Bourne, and he proves himself to be a worthy adversary. As with all Jason Bourne adventures, once Nicodemo escapes, the chase is on and will encompass several international settings and plenty of intrigue and excitement.
Nicodemo seems to be working for a deadly triad of Middle Eastern terrorists, British industrialists and the Mexican drug cartel. This confusing mix makes things extremely difficult for Treadstone and Bourne to follow, and the enemy always seems to be one step ahead and consistently knowing their every move.
Treadstone is having additional challenges as Soraya is hospitalized with a life-threatening illness. At the same time, Peter is trying to sniff out a potential mole within the ranks while himself going undercover with the dangerous British industrialist, Tom Brick of Core Energy. The web of deceit runs deep, and the terrorist plot that is being driven by all of these nefarious entities is more than Treadstone or Bourne and Co. could ever imagine.
THE BOURNE IMPERATIVE runs at a breakneck pace with a lengthy list of characters, definitely meriting a scorecard to keep track of. Eric Van Lustbader keeps the action and plot moving forward, and the tension never lets up. Some of his prior efforts in the series seemed to focus more on the relationships and espionage with less of the action fans have come to expect. That's not the case with this novel, as readers most assuredly will be gasping for breath as each eye-opening chapter unfolds.
The great Robert Ludlum has been gone for over a decade, but left the world the indelible character of Jason Bourne. Having already been the subject of three world-wide hit films starring Matt Damon, the character once again will be reimagined this summer in a new film series starring Oscar-nominee Jeremy Renner. Lustbader has more than done his part in paying it forward to fans of the series, and we surely have not heard the last of Jason Bourne.