Monday, 5 September 2016

Book review: Carte Blanche

It's been a long time since I read any of the newer official James Bond novels, written by a variety of novelists commissioned by the Ian Fleming estate; not since Sebastian Faulks' effort, of which I don't really remember the actual novel much, but do remember his afterword in which he says he's basically too good to be writing James Bond books, but it's all right 'cause he likes doing pastiche and just farted this one out on his coffee break (IIRC it showed.) That's probably what's put me off the other official novels, but as with most things it was some of them coming up cheap on kindle that made me give them another go. And Jeffery "two ways to spell Jeffrey weren't enough for me" Deaver does at least seem to have been flattered to be asked rather than mildly offended.

Instead of going back to the setting of the original novels, Carte Blanche follows the example of the films, specifically the Daniel Craig ones, by not only setting the action in the present day (this one was published in 2011) but also essentially rebooting the series, explicitly stating that James Bond is a relatively new agent while still keeping his personality much the same, i.e. drunk-driving most of the time (though actually, possibly a bit less of a dick than usual here.) In keeping with the villains needing to have some unusual physical characteristic, Deaver's is a necrophiliac with long dirty fingernails. Which isn't exactly up there with an extra nipple but OK.

After a bit of travelling around most of the story takes place in South Africa, and involves waste management as a cover for a terrorists-for-hire business. So a lot of the action scenes are in rubbish dumps, possibly explaining why these newer novels never get adapted into films. It took me ages to read this one because much of August was all about Harry Potter for me so it was hard to get interested in anything else, but once it got going I quite enjoyed this.

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