Brokenclaw (1990) – John Gardner

James Bond is back in action this week in John Gardner’s tenth 007 book, and probably my least favourite of the series at the moment. This one took me too long to get into, and then I felt not a lot really happened in the story to begin with until the climax.

Bond is in North America, first British Columbia and then California as he is assigned to infiltrate the organisation of Brokenclaw Lee (so named because of a malformation of his left hand), it seems Lee, a man of mixed Chinese and Native American heritage, has access to a long range underwater tracking system, and it’s antidote, which he plans to send back to China, where he is a member of their secret service, while being a ganglord in North America.

Bond, and a female agent, Sue Chi-Ho, pose as Chinese-recruited agents who are to pick up the information from Lee, but the plan quickly falls apart, and Bond is placed into the role of hero again, leading to a confrontation with Brokenclaw at a remote Native American village and a challenge by torture, an ancient ritual known as o-kee-pa – which is pretty disturbing, and based on an actual ritual of the same name.

Neither 007, nor myself, really got into the story, and honestly, there was no reason for him to go after Brokenclaw alone like he does at the end of the book, with the proper scans of the area, and placement of backup, he could have walked in and out with Sue, who is, of course, being held hostage by the end of the story, and taken out Brokenclaw more efficiently – the way the climax played out, while dramatic, and filled with lots of pain, didn’t have to go that way.

And I guess, ten books in, it was bound to happen sooner or later. I just didn’t care for this one. It didn’t captivate me like his other entries, even his disjointed adaptation of Licence to Kill reads better than this one. But that’s just like the film series, some entries are better than others, so I’ll just have to hope the next adventure is something a little better than this entry, which didn’t really bother to develop the villain, throws in a half-baked planned attack on Wall Street, and gives Captain Bond a little more to think about and do.

I’ll dig into the next one soon enough, because James Bond will return in…

The Man From Barbarossa.

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