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Sitting outside our home in Medellín, Colombia as I finish this long Robert Ludlum trilogy, two thoughts ‘just pop into my head’. This description of jocose randomness is the standard family dialect when I ask my wife after a particularly good recipe has made its mark on an evening around the table, ‘How did you come up with that?’

‘It just popped into my head.’

So, far from the kitchen, here goes:

First, the next Bourne book and/or movie needs to be set in Colombia. Our own northern 51O3lPCHlEL._SS300_Andean city—with its steep valley walls, its exotic potpourri of neighborhoods and its innovative deployment of cable cars and escalators as public transportation to and from the sprawling city sectors that cover both sides of the mile-high Valley of Aburrá—makes the perfect setting for, say, the first seven chapters of Bourne IV. Then the action could move on to seaside Cartagena, with its walled jewel of a city left to us by the Spaniards in unintended payment for the gold they stole. From these promising beginnings, we have an abundant portfolio of other eye-catching sites for the location manager to scout. Since Robert Ludlum left us in 2001, this will require that some studied disciple become struck with Ludlum’s conspiratorial madness and pick up the late imaginer’s pen.

Second, an odd and complex relationship between Ludlum’s Bourne Series and the One Hundred Years of Solitude left to us by Colombia’s Nobel-prizing-winning Gabriel García-Marquez suggests itself. Stick with me here, I can hear a reader grumbling to or about the sometimes incomprehensible Ludlum, ‘I know García-Marquez, and you ain’t no García-Marquez.’

‘Tis true. But I started with ‘odd and complex’, so don’t get your knickers in a twist just yet. Both writers’ set of characters is bafflingly complex, crying out for Cliff Notes at every third turn of the page. Both storiers can become lost in their own way with a pen, though García-Marquez more often resurfaces to stun and amaze when Ludlum has merely wandered into the woods with too few breadcrumbs left behind for clues.

If these are formal similarities common to the two long-winded authors, the formal contrast is stark: García-Marquez’ action takes place chiefly in the mind of his protagonists and in semi-private conversations among the certifiable oddballs who populate his pages. This is by definition a slow journey. His best-known story, after all, requires a hundred years.

Ludlum’s Bourne on the other hand is all action. ‘We’ve gotta’ move! Now!’

Yet both leave this reader frequently confused, generally amused, and—in the end—ready to start the whole dang thing all over again, knowing I’ll understand much more the second time, then more the third. And, so I fear, so on. From this reader’s end-of-the-book perspective, neither Ludlum nor García-Marquez are going away soon.

Candidly, it’ll take me another stroll or two through Bourne’s reluctantly dramatic and violent life before I get any kind of respectable grip on the hair-turn-rich plot lines that kept Jason Bourne away from the people he loved most and out chasing the world’s second-craftiest assassin for a handful of decades.

Oh, as other reviewers accurately and inevitably remark: those Jason Bourne movies? Great flicks, very little to do with the book.

If you want to meet the real-deal Chameleon, you gotta’ take up and read.

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