A Book Spy Review: ‘The Bourne Enigma’ By Eric Van Lustbader

The Bourne InigmaIn Eric Van Lustbader’s The Bourne Enigma, the thirteenth novel in the bestselling series originally created by master novelist Robert Ludlum, Jason Bourne is back and he’s out to settle an old score–and a new one. 

Boris Karpov, a Russian general, arranges for a message to be sent to his old friend, Bourne. Described over the phone as a “lifeline for the end of the world,” Jason is instructed to keep it safe at all costs.

The message, delivered by one of Karpov’s men to Bourne’s room at the Royal Broweiser in Frankfurt, Germany, is in the form of a mysterious, ancient coin from the Roman Empire.

Upon the messenger’s arrival, two problems are immediately apparent. First, the coin has no identifying marks or clues to suggest its importance or meaning. Secondly, and more important at the moment, the man charged with delivering Karpov’s message suspects that the man claiming to be Jason Bourne is an imposter. 

After briefly falling into the wrong hands, the message does eventually make its way to the real, one and only Jason Bourne–but not before a shady duo launches a plan to set him up and play him moving forward.

Arriving in Russia for Boris Karpov’s wedding, Bourne himself is intercepted by a woman who claims to be sent by Karpov to show him around town and accompany him to the wedding. In reality, she’s after the coin, but she needs Bourne to decode the message before she can make her move. 

The night before the wedding, Karpov and Bourne speak in person just long enough for the general to explain that he has some valuable information, which he needs to pass to Bourne when the time is right. The two make arrangements to meet secretly later, after the main course of the rehearsal dinner. 

Unfortunately, though, Karpov doesn’t live long enough to give Bourne the sensitive information he’s in possession of. After slipping away from the party, he’s assassinated alone in a garden just minutes before their meeting was to take place. 

When Karpov’s body is found, his neck freshly cut with a piano wire that is still stuck in his throat, Bourne begins investigating the enigma that is his murder. His first act is to decode the hidden message, the “lifeline to the end of the world,” that Karpov left for him.

Bourne quickly finds that his old friend had recently come across intel suggesting that a man named Ivan Borz, whom Jason shares some colorful history with, was shacked up in Cairo. Borz once played a role in a terrorist group’s attempt to strong-arm Bourne into killing the American president (the events of which took place in 2014’s The Bourne Ascendancy)and Jason’s been after him ever since. 

With an unlimited number of aliases, which he uses to navigate around the world under the radar of suspecting government agencies, Borz is nearly impossible to track–making Karpov’s intel a goldmine of information.

After learning that an attack designed to pull multiple countries into an international war is scheduled to occur in just four days, Bourne races against the clock to uncover all the pieces of the puzzle–leading him to a shocking revelation that even the former Treadstone operative never saw coming. 

In what might just be his most challenging mission yet, Jason Bourne is short on time and resources as he races to find Borz and prevent a war before the clock hits zero. Written with the same heart-pounding suspense fans have come to expect from Van Lustbader, Jason Bourne returns to action in splendid, breath-taking fashion. 

My Thoughts

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but there was one little thing that bothered me. It’s unclear why Karpov couldn’t have just waited to give Bourne the coin himself and explain its meaning the night before his wedding. Other than a means to make the plot work, I can’t see any good reason for how this went down.

The flip side to that are the many, many positives about this story which, from start to finish, is a pedal-to-the-floor spy thriller that plays up everything readers have come to love about Jason Bourne.  
These books have always had an old-school vibe, structured more for suspense than nonstop action. For other series, that style can get boring in a hurry, but not with Bourne. Van Lustbader knows just how to keep fans on the edges of their seats as he lays out the story’s plot, sucking them in and setting up for a climactic ending that doesn’t disappoint.

Between this book and a brand new feature film hitting theaters on July 29th, there’s never been a better time to be a fan of Jason Bourne! 

(Note: The Bourne Enigma will tie into the 2016 film Jason Bourne, which returns Matt Damon to the iconic franchise that made both Bourne and Damon household names.) 

Book Details

Jason Bourne was originally created by Robert Ludlum and first appeared in the 1980 novel, The Bourne Identity. Ludlum then wrote two additional books, adding The Bourne Supremacy (1986), and The Bourne Ultimatum (1990) to complete what is viewed as the original Bourne trilogy. Those novels served as the basis for the first three Jason Bourne movies starring Matt Damon.

Eric Van Lustbader took over the franchise in 2004, releasing his first Bourne novel, The Bourne Legacy (which was also made into a feature film, though it starred Jeremy Renner and not Matt Damon). The Bourne Enigma is his tenth novel in the series to date, bringing the total number of novels featuring Jason Bourne to thirteen.

(Note: The movies do not follow the books closely, as they are loosely based on the series by Robert Ludlum.)

Author: Eric Van Lustbader

Pages: 432 (Hardcover)

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Release Date: June 21, 2016 (Order now!)



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