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Date first published1980Bourne Identity cover
ISBN Number0 752 85854 8 p/b
Page Count541 p/b
h/b= hardback : p/b= paperback

The Bourne Identity


Who or what is Jason Bourne?

This is the enigma faced by a man fished out of the Mediterranean by a trawler. More dead than alive with 3 bullet wounds the nameless man is taken to a drunken medic in a small fishing port.

Following his recovery Bourne leaves the drunken doctor to go in search of his identity and find out the secrets held in a secret Swiss bank account.

From the moment he lands covertly in France fragments of his old life help him escape danger, and to obtain money and transport, which enables him to travel to Zurich.

His arrival at the bank sparks off a chain of terrifying events, with Bourne only narrowly escaping death. Unseen forces follow his every move chasing him from city to city, country to country. As the chase gathers pace Bourne starts to unravel the mystery of who and what he is.

During the battle he takes a hostage who by stages becomes his friend and lover. A woman of resilience and fortitude who helps him in his elusive battle to discover himself and find out who his enemies are and why they want him dead.

The unrelenting action moves from the opening battle in the Mediterranean Sea, to Zurich, Paris and on to the final battle in Washington. All the time the body count is rising. Will the madness stop ? Will Bourne get the answers he seeks ? Will he find the answers to why both the Assassin Carlos and the CIA want him dead, or will he be killed first?



This book was written in 1980 when international terrorism was an unpleasant fact of life with the murderous Carlos The Jackal leading the way. The story starts with a murderous fight aboard a fishing trawler in the Mediterranean Sea. A battle which sees the trawler destroyed and the hero fighting for life in the stormy seas.

After being rescued Bourne is brought back from the dead by a discredited English doctor in a small port. Bourne is forced to leave after a 'toughening up' session goes horribly wrong.

From this point we follow Bourne as he stumbles to find his true identity, and the reason for so many to want him dead. A job made all the harder because of the job he had and the programming he received to enable him to do the job. The book is well written, occasionally disjointed, which leaves the reader feeling lost and bewildered as Bourne is. The reader though is in the happier position of seeing the wider picture as events unfold elsewhere. One minute you feel disgust at what Bourne was and then relief as action elsewhere reveals the true Jason Bourne.

The book is probably Ludlum writing at his best, as the story ebbs and flows and you wonder at times whether Bourne is the hero you want him to be. It is only towards the latter part of the book that you realize you can accept Bourne and hope that he and his girl come through.

The book is set in the near distant past when such events described happened, and which today are thankfully rare in Europe and it is perhaps difficult to relate to a period when bombs and Communism worked hand in hand to bring the West down.

The Bourne Identity is the first Ludlum novel that I read and I think that it is his best work to date. Non stop action set against a horde of hidden killers, the story grips the reader, as the battles and body counts rise, only at the end do you find out who the good guys are.

For a really cracking start on Ludlum, I can thoroughly recommend this and the two sequels. Ludlums' other books are not quite so good. The early novels are not bad but one or two are totally impenetrable for a new reader.

For the avid reader looking for an alternative to Tom Clancy do not expect the same technical detail, or the same depth when it comes to military methodology, but all the same on a good day you can get a first rate adventure.


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