Authors: Boyd / Deaver / Faulks

Bond Book Review: Sebastian Faulks

Devil May Care ( 2008 )

( published by Penguin Books )

First what is this "Writing as Ian Fleming", has the spirit of the legendary writer taken over the author ? After much publicity to celebrate the centenary of Ian Fleming's birth on 28 May, 1908 we have this adventure which picks up after his last effort. Forget what followed, Gardner, Benson etc it was a dream !

So set in the 60s, we have old friend René Mathis who opens proceedings with a Paris murder. Meanwhile Bond travels around recovering from the last mission until summoned by boss M. So as expected we have elements & characters from past Fleming which are integrated like May, Bond's Scottish 'treasure' house-keeper, old pal Felix Leiter re-surfaces to help new aide Darius in Tehran and 007 arrives as David Somerset ( remember from FRWL ). In Persia he is helped by resourceful driver Hamid.

After a slow start, Bond is now a tennis ace ( yes at his age ! ) in order to encounter the villain of the story Julius Gorner - the man with The Monkey's Hand - shades of Dr No and first meeting with Goldfinger on the golf course. His side-kicks are "trusted lieutenant" Chagrin & the earlier Paris killer Mr Haslin. So who is the mysterious & beautiful Scarlett Papova, love interest, twin sister or more ? More excitement in the second half with a VC10 plane crash and an escape form Russia.

Spread over 20 right starting[?] chapters, this one just makes 295 pages and not sure if author is influenced by screen 007 as it contains elements from the movies, like drugs ( LALD/LTK ), Casper Sea ( TWINE ), vulcan planes ( TB ) and Afghanistan ( TLD ) - where hasn't Bond been ? Added pages are about the author & Fleming followed by Penguin's short descriptions of Fleming's books starting/numbered with 001 - Casino Royale to 0014 - Octopussy/The Living Daylights. Then the same treatment for Higson's Young Bond books. With a colorful lady front cover we have a simple black back cover with quoted words of 'Come in, 007' said M 'It good to see you back.' He sounds like Argy/Q in Connery's NSNA.

Overall not a bad effort but a struggle to get into ( did I miss where the title fits in ? ) for this reader and not worth a price tag of £18.99 - not surprised to see it discounted later. So if still not read, head for the local library or a book sale.

Bond Book Review: Jeffery Deaver

Carte Blanche ( 2011 )

( published by Hodder & Stoughton )

Brought up to date this James Bond still lives in a Chelsea flat and drives the latest Bentley ( a Continental GT ) with a spare old 60s E-Type Jag belonging to his late father in his garage. He now works for ODG ( Overseas Development Group ) after recruited by M over a meal but still part of Six ( MI6 ) from Royal Naval Reserve in Afghanistan. Regular characters are still around Tanner, Moneypenny ( now resembling actress Kate Winslet ), Goodnight & Leiter. One change is Q Branch now run by Sanu Hirani who now supplies the high-tech gadgets to 007.

After an opening author's note explaining "the world of intelligence, counter-intelligence is one of acronyms and shorthand." So the 432 page book includes an end 4 page glossary of them to aid [?] the story which is divided into days from Sunday ( The Red Danube ) to the concluding Friday ( Down to Gehenna ) over 72 mostly short chapters. 007's action travels take place in Serbia, London,York, Dubai & Cape Town.

Along the way James encounters new characters Severan Hydt the villain described as a Rag And Bone Man as his business is Green Way International Disposal and Recyling. Perhaps also due to his weird interest in dead bodies. He has an Irish assassin aide called Niall Dunne and girl-friend Jessica Barnes who isn't allowed to wear make-up in order to show her ageing. Early London office help to Bond is provided by Ophelia 'Philly' Maidenstone who is having relationship problems but provides useful intelligence analysis and driving skills. He is also hindered by MI5's Percy Osborne-Smith but after events finally trusts our boy James.

Once Bond arrives in South Africa for the main bulk of the story he meets attractive Capt. Bheka Jordaan from the SAP ( local police ) and reluctantly after advice from Tanner to avoid a MI6 contact, Gregory Lamb. Later undercover as Gene Theron, he encounters the love interest who is Felicity Willing ( of course she is ! ), a local providing food aid support for a charity but is there more to her than meets the eye ? So what is Gehenna or Incident Twenty ? Who is Noah ?

Priced at £19.99 the book is a good, enjoyable & easy ( due to text size ) read helped by the author's twists & turns with the Bondian plot despite those annoying acronyms. Still suggest just a library borrow rather than purchase. My local supermarket had the novel on opening week offer of just £5 but home space prevented my purchase.

Bond Book Review: William Boyd

Solo ( 2013 )

( published by Jonathan Cape )

The latest James Bond novel covers 322 pages & the narrative is broken into 5 parts ( followed by the usual blank page next to new chapter ). The author's opening note explains the setting based on Fleming's You Only Live Twice's obituary so our James is born in 1924 with this adventure taking place in 1969. Bond is described as 'a seasoned veteran of the service'. Still with his Chelsea flat near Sloane Square, old housekeeper May is replaced by similar Donalda. He is also looking for a new motor, so the local dealer lets him test drive first a Jensen FF and later a Interceptor II both speedy for his driving taste.

With opening flashbacks to World War II, Bond is sent by M to a West African country called Zanzarim with the cover of a journalist for Agence Press Libre. Along the way he comes across an organisation called AfricaKIN run in London's Bayswater by Gabriel Adeka, old brother of Bond's mission target Brigadier Solomon Adeka. The latter known as The Scorpion has a civil war on his hands and James is ordered by M to "get close to this man". On arrival he is met by contact Eufu Blessing Ogily-Grant aka Blessing who is a key part of the story as a new & younger love for 007. In the jungle he meets the baddie henchman Kobus Breed, a brutal mercenary or military leader ? He discovers that the war is being funded by a millionaire Hulbert Linck but for what purpose ?

Before his African departure he encounters at the Dorchester Hotel ( used for the book's PR launch ) an attractive actress called Bryce Fitzjohn who lives in Richmond and plays film roles like horror Vampiria. When he goes 'solo' recklessly motivated by revenge ( sounds like Licence To Kill ? ) after near death in Zanzarim. Back in London he has to get to Washington DC under the radar, so he borrows the passport of his new & 2nd love interest travelling as Mr Byrce Fitzjohn. Safely stateside Bond rents a car, a Mustang and buys a lot of easy to purchase gunware. During his AfricaKIN surveillance, he is contacted by Brig(ham) Leiter, related to Uncle Felix, of the CIA who is assisted by an older agent Massinette whom 007 is suspicious of when first met. He discovers old friend Felix is "still with Pinkerton's and consults for the CIA from time to time". There is a bloody night ending and on return to London James has to make a decision about his new love Bryce.

The book moves along at a nice pace with plenty of detail and a good addition to the Bond catalogue. After the story's end, there is a page & half about original author Ian Fleming followed by a page list of his books. This one priced at £18.99 is a hefty investment for a one-off read but enjoyable for Bond literary fans.