The Bourne Ultimatum

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The plan was simplicity itself. Create, using the resources of the Central Intelligence Agency, the perfect assassin. An assassin who would never fail--in large part because he would take credit for the work of others and thus never actually be in peril. Admittedly, the individual in question would, from time to time, need to perform in person, but for the most part, his career and reputation would be a fabrication. Such notoriety would most assuredly prick the competitive ego of Ilich Ramirez Sanchez--otherwise known as Carlos the Jackal--who is in fact the consummate assassin Bourne presumes to be.

In consequence, or so the plan went, Carlos would force a confrontation, and Bourne would eliminate a genuine threat to society. But something went wrong (THE BOURNE IDENTITY), and Jason Bourne was gravely wounded. Suffering from amnesia as well, he fell into sympathetic hands, and ultimately began to put his life back together with the help of Marie St. Jacques.

After his recovery, Jason Bourne was banished to the darkness and David Webb returned to marry Marie St. Jacques--beginning life anew as a professor of Oriental studies. Such, however, was not to be the end of Bourne. The appearance of a new assassin in Hong Kong who committed murder in Bourne’s name brought a reluctant David Webb out of retirement (THE BOURNE SUPREMACY).

Webb’s second incarnation as Jason Bourne was a physically and psychologically demanding experience--one which he barely survived with his psyche intact. Nevertheless, in THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM, David Webb must once again submerge himself in the role that he has played so successfully before. For if he does not, Carlos will destroy him and his family. He cannot run, he cannot hide; he must attack and defeat a most determined and devious opponent on his own ground.

For almost two decades, Robert Ludlum has defined the literary thriller. THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM is proof that the old master has not lost his touch. The Bourne books have always been among the most complex in the Ludlum canon, and THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM is no exception to that rule. In fact, it is so complex, so filled with twists and turns of plot, that the reader may despair of any resolution. Still, this is vintage Ludlum and thus cause for rejoicing.