Let me preface my review with my Ludlum/Lustbader history. I travel quite a bit for work, and as with most of my reading I picked up the Bourne Identity in the airport. I found the Bourne character and story to be well written and compelling, and quickly devoured the remaining two books in the trilogy.
I am also a huge fan of Lustbader's Nicholas Linnear books. I read The Ninja and the following books in high school and loved them.
When I saw that Lustbader had been tapped to continue the Bourne series, I instantly snapped up a copy. The first two books fell well below my expectations, and I mentally struck the series from my 'must-read' list. This weekend I was again in the airport and saw the Bourne Sanction. I started reading the first few pages and was pleasantly surprised. No glaring inconsistencies, no magical coincidences. Some very entertaining writing. So I purchased the book and boarded my plane. Thirty pages later, I regretted my decision. 150 pages after that I was convinced Lustbader's main objective in writing the book was to personally insult me. The plot devices used in the book are so egregious they actually made me feel slightly nauseous. Unfortunately, I am rarely able to stop reading a book once I start it. And so, I was forced to finish this one. Along the way, I promised myself two things: never read another Lustbader novel, and write a review to hopefully help someone avoid the agony to which I was being subjected.
In this book, as with the other Lustbader Bournes, Jason Bourne is the beneficiary of coincidental events so improbable it appears he is an incompetent who must rely on luck in order to survive. In fact, Bourne is so lucky that he should consider getting out of the spy business and playing poker. There is no doubt based on the events of this book that he would be dealt a Royal Flush on every hand and win the WSOP every year!
Our antagonist, who goes by the name Arkadin, is another world class assassin who also seems to get by more chance than by any innate skill. Supposedly, he is the equal of Bourne, yet leads such a low profile life no one has ever heard of him. Surprising then, when early in the book he uses his real name when introducing himself to another character.
By the finale of the book, the happenstance which allows the ending is so ridiculously improbable, I was convinced no one had ever read a draft of the book before it was published. The last chapter alone, which relies on a coincidence of incalculable odds made this reader want to vomit.
Never again my friends, never again.
P.S. I purposely did not describe events from the actual story in the event someone who reads this review might still feel the need to read the book. If that is the case with you, I can only suggest, DON'T DO IT!
P.P.S. Usually when I get done with a book, I will leave it somewhere with a sticky note on it that says, 'Free Book'. I threw this one away. If someone had picked it up and read it, I didn't want to get tracked down by my fingerprints and charged with crimes against humanity for leaving it lying around.