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Cain is for Carlos, and Delta is for Cain...

Series of eight novels (so far), three written by Robert Ludlum, the rest by Eric Van Lustbader. They involve Jason Bourne, an ex-CIA assassin, who was involved in the Vietnam War as part of a secret organisation called Medusa. His goal was to create the image of a great assassin to lure out and kill (real-life assassin) Carlos the Jackal.

The first novel, The Bourne Identity, involves Jason Bourne losing his memory and being hunted through the streets of Paris by the CIA (who think he's dodgy) and Carlos the Jackal (who just wants to kill him). On his way, he meets (well, more or less kidnaps) a Canadian economist called Marie St Jacques.

In The Bourne Supremacy, someone has started killing under the Bourne name and is threatening to cause a war between China and the West. To get Bourne to kill him, the CIA kidnap Marie (now married to Bourne). Carlos the Jackal does not really feature here.

In The Bourne Ultimatum, Carlos issues a final challenge to Bourne, now in his 50s and a college professor.

Made into a mini-series in 1988 that was fairly faithful to the first novel, and a recent series of movies that drops the Carlos plotline and recasts Bourne as a Present Day black-ops CIA assassin.

These novels include examples of:

  • Anonymous Ringer: Averted with Carlos the Jackal
  • Arc Words: "Cain is for Carlos, and Delta is for Cain." (and when it's not that, it's "Cain is for Charlie, and Delta is for Cain", and "Delta is for Charlie, and Charlie is for Cain". Ludlum loved this, apparently)
  • Ascended Extra: Johann, a minor henchman in the novel who is killed by Bourne in his second scene, is basically promoted to Carlos' Dragon in the '88 TV movie.
  • Author Tract: Lustbader has a dislike with neoconservatives, and he shows it.
  • Ax Crazy: Carlos after he snaps. And he kinda enjoys killing for the hell of it before then.
  • Badass: Bourne has no problem taking you out, even if he doesn't have a gun
  • Bad Habits: Carlos the Jackal dresses up as a priest
  • Batman Gambit: Asher Sever/Dominic Specter's plan in Sanction. He convinces Bourne to pursue a pipeline of anti-terrorist vigilantes in order to retrieve blueprint of impending terrorist attack. It turns out that the plan is decoy, the pipeline is bogus, Bourne, who is on the run from American intelligence, has been used by Sever to inject misdirections to US security forces
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: Subverted in The Bourne Legacy, as a terrorist attempts to use a fallen guard as a human shield, but is mowed down when the blast go right through the body anyway.
  • Cold War
  • Comic Book Time: Bourne is 50 in Ultimatum, which is set before the fall of USSR. In Deception, which is written by the new author, the same character mentions about Bali Bombing in 2005.
  • Contrived Coincidence: An atrocious one. In Lustbader's novels, a character can just use prosthetics and cosmetics and pass off as another character. That in and of itself is quite a stretch to believe, but the kicker is this word: HEIGHT. Apparently in Lustbader's universe everyone has the same height.
  • Crazy Prepared: Bourne and Carlos are good at planning several steps ahead, which is why they're so good at their jobs.
  • Creator's Pet: Lustbader's Arkadin. Lustbader keeps filling the narration with Arkadin's past and making Bourne exhausted so Bourne cannot kill Arkadin. When someone writes Bourne novels and guarantees upfront that the villain is going to have his own trilogy, you know that villain is a pet.
  • Deep-Cover Agent:
  • Did Not Do the Research: Lustbader just doesn't care.
  • Discontinuity: See False-Flag Operation below. In Ludlum's novel, Bourne is no assassin; he's just a tough man who takes credit of assassination. In Lustbader's, Bourne is a full-blown killer.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: In Legacy, where Lustbader kills Conklin and Panov right at the start of the story. In Betrayal, Marie is dead because of pneumonia.
  • False-Flag Operation, with flavor of Shrouded in Myth: The whole point of Jason Bourne, at least in the original Ludlum books. Jason Bourne the assassin is a myth. He does not assassinate anyone; he just takes credit of prolific assassinations, which real murderers happily let him. The point behind this myth is to insult Carlos the Jackal and force him into the open to confront Bourne.
  • Flanderization: Eric van Lustbader, YOU FUCKING BASTARD.
  • Gay Paree: Averted
  • A God Am I: Carlos has a pretty massive ego
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Bourne to Marie. And a few others seem to be attracted to her somewhat as well.
  • High-Speed Missile Dodge: In a Chinook, no less.
  • Hong Kong: The setting of the second novel.
  • Informed Attribute: The Old Man, the DCI in the new series. Everyone says he's great, The Chessmaster, The Magnificent Bastard, A Father to His Men. And yet he orders his DDCI to sever Bourne after Bourne just rescued the DDCI, fails to notice all terrorist schemes in both books of his appearance, and orders assassination on Bourne just because he hates Bourne.
  • Insistent Terminology: "CI", in Lustbader books. For reason unknown Lustbader always omits the "A" in "CIA" and "Agency" after "Central Intelligence". Made even more puzzling in that in his other novels, Lustbader uses "CIA" correctly.
  • Kissing Cousins: Carlos and his first cousin were lovers since childhood
  • London England Syndrome: Inverted - a guy has to specify he wants Vienna, Virginia, not Vienna, Austria
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Soraya Moore, Boris Karpov, and Amun Chalthoum qualify. They are directors of nationwide spy agencies, and yet they are continuously found in the field. It never seem to occur to them that they can just delegate their own investigation.
  • Master of Disguise: Bourne's story was influenced by real-life 20th-century assassin Carlos "The Jackal", who was infamous for his ability to blend in and elude the authorities. See also The Day of the Jackal, another espionage thriller and resulting films where Carlos supposedly got his nickname.
  • Oh Crap: Arkadin's reaction in the climax of Deception when three-fourth of his ninety-nine men cadre are blown in just two shots of anti-tank missiles.
  • The Purge: Two of Carlos' unnamed minions do this to Treadstone Seventy-One pretty much all by themselves.
  • Purple Prose/Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Books that are written by Lustbader suffers this greatly. See links on Flanderization above.
  • Quest for Identity: The Bourne Identity
  • Replacement Love Interest: in Lustbader's books, Moira replaces Marie.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Irritable turncoat Alfred Gillette is promptly shot dead by Carlos' hitman, after serving his purpose.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: During the Zurich lecture scene Ludlum lavishes attention on how much the light from the projector reflects off the lenses of the gold-rimmed glasses of the hitman.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • Jason Bourne in Legacy. Stepan Spalko really has to choose someone weaker to be set up.
    • the truth of Sarah ibn Ashef's murder in Betrayal. At that climax of the book, CIA is under complete control of Karim, an Islamist supremacist who poses as CIA's Deputy Director. He breaks his cool and calm when Bourne reveals that truth.
  • Swiss Bank Account: In The Bourne Identity, the only clue he has to his identity in the beginning is the details of a Swiss numbered bank account.
  • The Great Politics Mess-Up: Not only has the real Carlos the Jackal been captured, but he's no longer regarded as the Big Bad terrorist mastermind of popular myth.
  • The Vietnam War: Backstory
  • Villainous Breakdown: At the climax of Betrayal. Confronting Karim, Bourne reveals the truth of the murder of his sister, which causes the terrorist lunge up to him recklessly.
  • Wretched Hive:
    • Kowloon
    • Nizhny Tagil in the new series.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Arkadin's plan in Deception. If Bourne survives the ambush in Bali, the trail would lead him to Nikolai Yevsen, an arms dealer whose business empire is on Arkadin's takeover list. If Yevsen kills Bourne Arkadin's vengeance on Bourne is fulfilled; if Bourne kills Yevsen then Yevsen's business is Arkadin's. Either way, Arkadin wins.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Bourne and Carlos are good at setting, predicting, and reversing traps. When they go directly against each other, this results in traps being double and triple reversed constantly
  • You Have Failed Me: Although in general Carlos is a pretty decent villain to work for (compared to most, anyway), Koenig is done away on Carlos' orders for the glorious screwup that was the Zurich hit.