This opener to a new series set in Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne universe — now 15 novels deep thanks to Eric Van Lustbader — sees a former Treadstone operative (the organisation that created Bourne) yanked back into the violent world he thought he’d left behind when he receives a foreboding email from a former colleague, and is soon after attacked by a kill squad.
It’s a conceit every connoisseur of action-lit has seen before, and accepts as a necessary trope, but The Treadstone Resurrection never really capitalises on the rich tapestry of Jason Bourne’s world, and is hamstrung by a comparatively dull lead, who lacks the necessary compassion to go alongside his ruthlessness. Ludlum’s heroes always had an emotional core — a beating heart in the Kevlar-shielded chest — and even though they were often one-dimensional, there was at least a glimmer of humanity inside them. Adam Hayes often laments his inability to just be a Regular Joe — all he wants is to settle down with his wife and young son, God dammit! — but their inclusion feels shoe-horned; their involvement (which is exclusively on the sidelines) is the only thing that proves Hayes isn’t merely a gut-totting cyborg.
When the action hits, it lands hard and fast. Joshua Hood’s talent lies in creating pulse-pounding, wickedly-fast blockbuster set-pieces; and as the novel moves from violent confrontation to violent confrontation, he ratchets up their scale. The trouble is, everything between these moments is anaemic, and overly-reliant on italicised flashbacks.
Number Of Pages: 384
Published: 24th February 2020
Publisher: Head of Zeus
I often wonder about the limitations imposed on authors operating in other writers’ universes. I imagine it’s a little like helming a big-name super-hero title at Marvel or DC Comics; you get to play in the sandbox, bang the toys together and make some noise – – but when your time is up, everything needs to be put neatly away for the next person. You can have fun, sure; but nothing crazy. You can’t break the toys. There are rules, and you’ve got to obey them. Some writers are able to thrive under these conditions, while the creativity of others is inevitably dampened, if not entirely snuffed.
Douglas Corleone has the enviable task of crafting the third adventure in the late Robert Ludlum’s Paul Janson series. Enviable because, honestly, who wouldn’t want to share a by-line with one of the greatest ever thriller writers? The result – The Janson Equation – is an utterly readable, but ultimately undercooked novel. It’s a page-turner that lacks the obligatory thrills and spills Ludlum aficionados expect. Its plot is appropriately convoluted; Janson and his partner, Jessica Kincaid, are tasked with unravelling the truth behind a young woman’s murder, who so happened to be the lover of a prominent U.S. senator’s son, and a translator operating in high-stakes negotiations between factions of the North and South Korean governments. Janson and Kincaid’s investigation leads to the discovery of a diabolical plot organized by a shadowy unit of the U.S. state department to provoke violence between the opposing nations, and spark all-out war.
But for all that potential, The Janson Equation is disappointingly dull. It stays in neutral for its entire 400-page length, proceeding at a gentle pace, and lacking any sort of crescendo. That said, there’s enough here to persuade me into checking out come of Corleone’s original work; not so much to return to the next novel in the Janson series.
Imprint: Orion (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Publish Date: 2-Jun-2015
Country of Publication: United Kingdom