Ian Fleming’s 007 James Bond is back in action in this 1986 thriller penned by John Gardner who carried on the series for the Fleming estate and updated the secret agent by retconning his early adventures into the late 60s and 70s allowing his Bond, slightly older, to prowl and protect the world of the 80s.
In this novel, another quickfire read, Bond is caught up in events en route to pick up his maid/cook all around house person, May, who is recuperating in a hospital on the Continent. When strange and threatening events begin to occur around him, including the introduction of two stunning women, Sukie and Nannie, he finds that he is the subject of a manhunt, ordered by his old nemesis, SPECTRE, and its new (but dying leader).
It soon comes out that SPECTRE has put a price on Bond’s head, literally, and organisations from all over the globe are after him, and the huge payday his head would afford them. Bond has to use all of his wits, figure out if he can trust anyone, and find a way to recover a now kidnapped May, and Moneypenny!
The story leads him all over the globe with a climax delivering us to a remote island off Key West, where truths and revelations may leave Bond shaken, and stirred into action.
Gardner has very much found his own style of telling a 007 story, they move quickly, and while as detail-oriented as Ian Fleming’s original novels, it doesn’t have Fleming’s punch style, instead, Gardner sets his own pleasing pace, doling out the story and the moments, that marry a little bit of the gadgetry we’ve come to expect from the Bond films, especially those of the 80s, with sex, violence and martinis.
There are exotic locales aplenty, and I quite enjoy how Gardner writes Bond, though the ‘twist’ reveal of a baddie in this novel was as predictable as the one in the previous novel. But that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable, it’s a fun ride, it’s cool to still have SPECTRE around, though I’m not sure how their story will continue in the future, considering the events of this story.
The introduction of the female characters in this film shows us that Nannie could almost be Bond’s equal, and I quite enjoy those types of character going up against 007, sure I love the quips and charm, and the witticisms, but I also love a strong woman who recognises Bond for who he is, and still wants to play – on their own terms… no matter how it ends.
There are still stories to come, and James Bond will return in No Deals, Mr. Bond.