cover image Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Retribution

Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Retribution

Eric Van Lustbader. Grand Central, $28 (432p) ISBN 978-1-4555-5095-1

Lustbader's eighth thriller continuing the Ludlum franchise (after 2012's The Bourne Imperative) is burdened with groan-inspiring prose ("she arched her back, her heavy breasts crowned with dark nipples rising out of the water like questing sea creatures") and implausible action sequences, even by the series' low standards. Jason Bourne is heartbroken over the death of his latest amour, and is now working with Israeli intelligence. But his assignment to safeguard a senior Mossad official on a visit to Mexico is botched, and he's propelled into mind-numbing intrigue involving not only narcotics traffickers but rival Chinese factions. Sloppy errors, such as misusing the Hebrew word aliya as a synonym for penance, further defeat efforts to make all of this seem real. Whatever was original in Ludlum's initial conception of an amnesiac superagent in his trilogy has long been lost in a welter of clich%C3%A9s, with the worst saved for last. (Dec.)