Before I read, The Bourne Sanction by Eric Van Lustbader, I was only faintly aware of the name Jason Bourne, and that too courtesy my brother’s fetish for action movies.
But, when I saw the paperback lying amidst Anna Karenina, Yogayog and Mr. Sampath, I was overwhelmed by a sudden desire to take some time out of the classics, and read yet another thriller. It may be an after effect of American Cross and Indian Puri, but before I could think twice, I was already at the booking corner, taking Bourne Sanction home.
However, as I began reading the novel, first few pages baffled me. There was no Bourne in it!
Surprisingly, the novel began with a very detailed fighting scene in Nazni Taghil, an infamous prison in Russia, where some hard core convicts are getting ready to murder their fellow prisoner Maks. However, the victim is saved by a prison guard, who moments later turns out to be another assassin. As the so called prison guard completes his work, the first chapter is concluded, introducing the most ruthless, brutal and yet mysteriously attractive villain Arkadin.
Though, there was as yet no mention of Jason Bourne, I was hooked, savoring the fast paced thriller, which seemed to be moving on a delirious path, dangerous and yet exciting.
And, then came the real hero, Jason Bourne, the rogue CIA Agent, who is trying to eke out a decent living in the serene environs of Georgetown University, under the guise of David Webb. Apparently, he is still grieving over the loss of his ex-colleagues and wife, and yet is slowly getting acquainted with a young woman Moira, who works for a Solutions Firm.
David is under the tutelage of Professor Specter, who is his mentor, guide and counselor all rolled into one. But, in a sudden twist, the Professor is attacked by some hoodlums of Black Legion – a Terrorist group which is trying to create chaos in America, sending some crucial information through a well concealed circuit.
As Jason gets involved, he realizes that Arkadin, is removing the vital links and evidences of the Black Legions Circuit. But, if he is really a villain, why is he trying to destroy the handiwork? Is Professor Specter as innocent as he appears to be or does the muck run much deeper? As I rushed through the 600 pages of Eric Van’s creation, these and many other questions kept ringing in my head, and I could hardly put the novel down.
Other than the breathtaking, fact paced narrative, the double identity of Jason Bourne was no less striking. He is portrayed as a heartless, intelligence agent ready to terminate any one who dares to challenge his authority, and yet is a poetic linguist, who adores to learn more languages, dwelling on the intricacies of consonants and vowels. Quite a paradoxical character, who is, in addition, suffering from amnesia, with his memories failing him at regular intervals, deluding him into a never seen before journey.
But, strangely despite Jason Bourne being a strong character, it was the villain Arkadin, who stole the show. Arkadin is a perfect anti-hero, who is brutal, yet takes a fancy for a young misdirected girl, suffers immensely from nightmares, was once madly in love, and is yet a cold hearted murderer, who does not blink twice before shooting someone point blank.
Eric did a wonderful job in sketching this mysterious dark character, justifying his madness by giving a sneak peek into his sad, grim, horrible past. Particularly the episode about rats chewing someone alive, took my breath away.
Finally, a curious fact, Jason Bourne, as a character was created by Robert Ludlum, who wrote the first three books of the Jason Bourne series. But, the writer of the novel under review is Eric Van Lustbader, who is continuing the legacy and has already written seven more novels, and The Bourne Sanction is the third in his line-up. I can’t comment on the earlier novels written, but I have surely become a fan of Lustbader’s blood racing, adrenaline pumping, disgustingly gory yet maddeningly addictive style.
Definitely, worth a read!