The fourth Bourne novel, but the first without [a:Robert Ludlum|5293|Robert Ludlum|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1208465267p2/5293.jpg] at the helm. Sadly it shows, and [a:Eric Van Lustbader|39467|Eric Van Lustbader|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1262658121p2/39467.jpg]'s inexperience shines through. Inexperience, or possibly pressure from the publishers to get the book out there. Lustbader seems to feel nervous in the early parts of the novel and falls back on some overly purple-prose and alliterative-adjectives to cover up the lack of action. Instead these become a huge distraction themselves. Once the story kicks in the 'style' becomes much less obvious and Lustbader seems to find a pace he feels more comfortable with.
For no apparent reason Jason Bourne, as David Webb, is targeted for assassination by Khan (an uber-assassin who also believes he is Bourne's long-dead son). However both Khan and Bourne are being played against each other by a shadowy, power-hungry, figure – Spalko – who is pulling their (and other people's) strings for his own, unknown, purposes. They are led a merry chase from the US to France, to Hungary and then on to Iceland for the well-telegraphed anti-terrorism summit.
While the story is exciting, and you're always rooting for Bourne (and at some points for Khan too), the story between Bourne and Khan is almost totally unconnected to the story with Spalko and the Icelandic summit. Spalko triggers the Bourne/Khan sub-plot, but it serves no purpose toward his main objective. He would almost certainly have stood more chance of success if he'd not tried to get Bourne involved at all. Bourne would have stayed at home mourning the deaths of his friends, but that would have been it.
After four novels of the series, we're all pretty aware that Bourne is a super-spy. His training from Conklin in Vietnam made him the best in the world. Yet, repeatedly, Khan is able to follow him without Bourne noticing. Khan is able to 'guess' the direction Bourne has taken. And all to often, Khan manages to get to where Bourne is going before Bourne does. Pretty impressive when you're following someone. Even more impressive when you're following someone who isn't too sure where he's going himself.
Finally, further proof to me that this book was a rushed job, with the Ludlum estate pressuring Lustbader to get something out there quickly to capitalise on the success of the Bourne Identity
film, was that the book having been split into three sections, had them labelled: parts one and two, but followed by book three? The book reeked of rushed cashing in – the only saving grace being the somewhat exciting pace of the story.