Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Objective

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 February, 2011, 12:00am

Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Objective
by Eric Van Lustbader
Orion, HK$104

Old heroes of espionage thrillers haunted by a fractured sense of self don't die; they simply refuse to fade away. Robert Ludlum may have passed on a decade ago, but his most famous creation, Jason Bourne, continues trying to work out just who in the hell he really is. 'This ring,' he says at the start of this fifth posthumous sequel, 'I have no memory of it.' 'You have no memory of many things in your past,' his shaman Suparwita replies. Bourne knows that the ring belonged to a woman who was murdered, but it goes without saying that he can't remember who she was. His nemesis is a Russian mercenary called Arkadin, a dead ringer for Bourne himself. Trained by the same agents, they make a perfect match. Only, who is pulling Arkadin's strings and why? Lustbader does a good job: the action sequences are taut, the plot pleasingly incomprehensible. There is an oddly delicious moment when Bourne discusses the finer points of Kate Bush's song Wuthering Heights. 'That's from Wuthering Heights, isn't it?' Brilliant deduction, my dear Bourne. But it's nice to know some memories haven't vanished entirely.