cover image Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Ascendancy

Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Ascendancy

Eric Van Lustbader. Grand Central, $28 (464p) ISBN 978-1-4789-7953-1

Lustbader's workmanlike ninth contribution to the Bourne franchise (after 2013's The Bourne Retribution) finds Jason Bourne on a routine assignment, posing as a high-level functionary at an international summit in the Middle East. The action picks up after the terrorist El Ghadan captures Bourne during an ambush of the summit that leaves the other diplomats dead. Our hero is then forced to make a sadistic choice: consign his friend Soraya Moore and her two-year-old daughter, Sonya, to a fate of death or worse, or, use his unparalleled skills to murder the American president. As he patiently searches for an escape from this dilemma, Bourne inadvertently plays directly into El Ghadan's real plan. An overly familiar plot (e.g., a vengeful enemy forces a top agent to choose between loved ones and patriotic duty) and tacky prose (e.g., "The long bulge of the Presidential phallus was all too visible") suggest Bourne is ready for retirement. (June)