Book Critique - The Bourne Betrayal (Jason Bourne #5)

For review of all books in the series, go here.

Stars: 5 / 5

Recommendation: A fantastical spy tale taking the readers into the world of terrorists whose fanatic minds are no match for our cursed spy, Jason Bourne, while keeping the readers on the very edge.

The Bourne Betrayal is the fifth book in the spy action thriller series Jason Bourne, written by Eric Van Lustbader, published in June of 2007. The character was originally created by Robert Ludlum, however after his death, Lustbader picked up the character and continued the series. This book picks up three years after The Bourne Legacy plot.

Deputy Director of Central Intelligence Agency (DDCI), Martin Lindros, is kidnapped by the terrorist leader, Fadi, from the Semien mountain range. Despite the animosity, the Director of Central Intelligence Agency (DCI) Kurt "Old Man" asks David Webb to bring forth his alter ego, Jason Bourne, once again to bring back Lindros.

However, Bourne is suffering further loss of memories and flashes of memories that leave him confused. Was Bourne the right choice by DCI? Or is Bourne being played again by unknown and known powers to drag him through perils upon perils? And the biggest of the biggest betrayals to Bourne is yet to come. 

Lustbader creates a chameleon as best as Bourne who lures Bourne everywhere, causing tangent threads that confuse him. A perfect chameleon to fight a chameleon. Despite knowing that he was chasing a chameleon and given his paranoia, it surprised me that Jason Bourne takes believes things at face without question most times; puts himself under a needle and electronic leads; and doesn’t fight off some perils. I would have expected him to be more cunning rather than trusting. 

One of the plan that the primary antagonists device reminded me of the antagonist's plot in the 2008 American political action thriller film Vantage Point. Incidentally this movie was released a year after the book was published. Had the director of the film been inspired by the book for that one small part of the plot in the film? Could be. 

In the first three books of the series, Ludlum took us to China, sharing its plans to conquer the world with arms and ammunitions. In the previous book, The Bourne Legacy, Lustbader showed us how Chechen terrorists work with a Hungarian mad man to annihilate the Russians. And in this plot, he takes us to the rising Muslim and Western Arab insurgence in the regions of Africa. 

Lustbader brings forth the alpha and gamma radiation exploitation by the antagonists who are trying to use it to mass murder. Reminds me of something Mr. President said recently without thought and care. Sadly back then the antagonist was unknown to us, but now we know them and yet cant do anything about it. 

Lustbader again doesn’t mince words and is not shy at showing the positives and negatives of all the characters involved in the plot. He doesn’t hold back while throwing twists and turns at these characters keeping the readers on the edge.

Some of the cutting edge methods that the antagonists use in the plot like consolidation & miniaturization using nanotechnology to suppress memories or create false memories; prosthetics that look like real; makes me wonder how is the evil always well empowered before good can even prepare to fight back. Again we see deep explanations of things such as nanotechnology; burner phones; etc, that are a commonality in this year but were cutting edge in 2007 when this book was written.

Contrary to how Ludlum had written the first three books, Lustbader changed the format for his books. He made the entire book into sub-books - Book One gives us the chase that Bourne does after the kidnappers; Book Two brings the betrayals to light; Book Three shows the cunningness of Bourne; Book Four gives us the climax. 

After reading the book, it made more sense as to why Lustbader split into "Books" rather than "Parts" as the tales in each of them could have been printed as individual books if needed. However, I did feel like I am in a George R.R. Martin novel, especially the way various characters were dying, just like in his books.  

I don’t normally read the ending or at least some of the last chapters of any book. Yet, this time around I was compelled to flip through the final pages. Knowing that Bourne would come out alive and successful, knowing that the antagonists will be defeated, and knowing that the mission will be accomplished; I still couldn’t resist myself. There were too many twists and too much of betrayal piling up on Bourne that I worries the author might kill this Jason Bourne.

Although once I had finished reading it I felt the ending was a bit rushed in and Lustbader left a lot of pieces open-ended, presuming he will solve them in the coming books. Another fantastic spy tale taking us into the world of terrorists planning for annihilating a nation while the cursed spy is pushed to thwart the plans, all the while saving himself from being killed in the process.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. Lustbader kills Marie St. Jacques Webb's character in the beginning of the book. She is shown as died from a viral pneumonia. I wonder why Lustbader made Bourne's character so alone, especially since his kids - Jamie and Alison - also stay with his wife's sister and father in Canada.

b. Martin Lindros has a girlfriend, Moira.

c. Agent Moore had worked with Bourne in Odessa, when they were on a CI case to eliminate Abu Sarif Hamid ibn Ashef al-Wahhib, Faid and Karim's father.

d. Anne Held, DCI's assistant, is in relationship with Karim al-Jamil.

e. Tyrone saves Soroya from the antagonists and she owes him one. Perhaps we will see more of them in the next book? 

f. At the end of the book, DCI Kurt and DDCI Lindros both are killed along with DCI's assistant Anne. Lindros's girlfriend, Moira is introduced at the end of the plot. Something makes me think that she might become more in the coming books in the series.

g. With DCI and DDCI murdered, Lustbader doesn’t show the fate of CIA, who would head it and what this all means to Jason Bourne in the book. 

2. Sub-Plots:

a. Conspirators behind the chaos: Members of Dujja (Abu Ghazi Nadir al-Jamuh ibn Hamid ibn Ashef al-Wahhib "Fadi"; Karim al-Jamil ibn Hamid ibn Ashef al-Wahhib, Fadi's brother; Abbud ibn Aziz, Fadi's right-hand man; Muta jbn Aziz, Abbud's brother; Abd al-Malik); Costin Veintrop (disguised as Dr. Sunderland); Dr. Senarz.

b. Various Agency people some pro and some against Bourne: DCI Kurt; Matthew Lerner, acting DDCI; Special Agent Soraya Moore; Davis, from the Skorpion Unit; Agent Peter Marks; Secretary of Defense Ervin Reynolds Bud Halliday; Luther LaValle, Pentagon's Intelligence Czar; Jon Mueller from Department of Homeland Security; Gundarsson from International Atomic Energy Agency; Dr. Pavlyna, CI doctor; Rob Batt, Director of Operations; Feyd al-Saoud, chief of Saudi secret police.

c. Local Law Enforcement and other support people: Anne Held, DCI's assistant; Kim Lovett & Chief O'Grady from the Fire Investigation Unit; Detective William Overton and Joe Mueller from Metro Police.

d. People on Bourne's side: Dr. Allen Sunderland (his new psychiatrist since Dr. Morris "Mo" Panov is killed in the previous book); Deron, a master forger; Tyrone; the Amharas (Alem, his father Zaim; Kabur;); Katya Stepanova Vdova, Veintrop's wife.

e. In the very first book The Bourne Identity, we see that Carlos escapes in the end from Bourne, and that he is only one who knows how Carlos looks like. This character hadnt been expanded since. Lustbader references to Carlos again in The Bourne Legacy as well. So will Carlos be part of one of the books that Lustbader has written in this series since this book? One only can tell after reading those books I suppose. 

f. In The Bourne Legacy, Jason's son Joshua "Khan" Webb doesn’t join his current family yet. So am guessing Lustbader's future books will focus on Joshua, or perhaps both Jason and Joshua. 

g. In the end of The Bourne Legacy plot, Spalko is shot and is thrown into the icy ocean in Iceland. However, it is not revealed that his body has been found. So will he resurface again?

h. Some of the books and media Ludlum mentions along the plot:

i. Fadi and Muta watch the hit TV drama Sopranos frequently.

3. Grammatical / Character / Location / Geographical / Historical / Mythological Errors:

a. On Pg. 361, Line 3, "Ashef" is mis-spelled as "Ashraf


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