Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The most enduring imposters in crime fiction and espionage

Paul Vidich’s fourth novel, The Mercenary, is now out from Pegasus Books. His debut novel, An Honorable Man, was selected by Publishers Weekly as a Top 10 Mystery and Thriller in 2016. It was followed the next year by The Good Assassin. His third novel, The Coldest Warrior, was widely praised in England and America, earning strong reviews from The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times.

[Q&A with Paul Vidich]

At CrimeReads, Vidich tagged five "classic works whose memorable imposters still entertain and appall us," including:
The Bourne Identity, Robert Ludlum (1980)

The Bourne Identit is a spy fiction thriller that turns the imposter trope upside down. It is the story of a man cast into the ocean when his boat explodes, causing total memory loss, who must then recover his identity. In the process, he encounters shady pursuers, a professional assassin, and the CIA, who want him dead. He thinks he’s succeeded finding his name when he follows a clue to Zurich and a bank clerk recognizes him as Jason Bourne. With that erroneous identification, he unwittingly becomes Jason Bourne’s imposter.

The story takes readers on a twisted and dangerous journey into a world of deceptions and conspiracies, offering a psychological portrait of a man who is uncomfortable believing that he is capable of the horrendous crimes committed by Bourne. He seeks to piece together the dangerous puzzle of his missing past. At the novel’s end, he proves that he is not the real Jason Bourne, but the only clue to his real identity is a first name—David. The novel ends as it began, with the protagonist living in a dissociative fugue state not knowing who he is.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Bourne Identity is among Jeff Somers's five books that use amnesia effectively.

--Marshal Zeringue