Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Betrayal

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 June, 2008, 12:00am

Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Betrayal

by Eric van Lustbader

Orion, HK$112

Apparently, best-selling authors never die, but come back to haunt us as phantom writers. Robert Ludlum's demise has, if anything, increased the speed of his output: since 2001, 16 adaptations, sequels and partially realised manuscripts have been polished up and polished off by a number of wannabes, all praying that Matt Damon will give them a call. Selected especially by the Ludlum estate, Eric van Lustbader is possibly the best known of the lot. For one thing, he has taken on Jason Bourne, Ludlum's most famous creation. For another, Van Lustbader has his name on the book cover, although in smaller type than Ludlum's. Intriguingly, Van Lustbader once dropped the 'Van' after confusion about his last name - an ironic admission from a writer now hoping to be confused with someone else. The story itself is not bad.

Bourne is still as forgetful as ever. You know the sort of thing: your family, your name, whom you've killed. Luckily, he has not forgotten Martin Lindros, a friend and CIA agent who vanishes while tracking a shipment of uranium bound for a terrorist called Fadi. Before you can say al-Qaeda, Bourne is beset by an avalanche of double-crosses, mistaken identities and plot twists Ludlum would be proud to call his own.