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License Renewed

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Lavendar Peacock; The Villain: Anton Murik; Supporting Characters: Mary Jane Mashkin, Caber, “M”, Moneypenny, Q`ute, Bill Tanner, Franco; Locations Covered: London, Scotland, France. First Published: 1981

After more than a decade without a new Bond novel, the literary franchise was resurrected with the release of License Renewed. Yes, the body was resurrected, but the spirit wasn`t there.

Gardner was a spy thriller novelist in his own right before picking up the Bond franchise. His effort with License Renewed is commendable, and it should be noted that the book stayed on top of the New York Times best seller list for 52 weeks. But overall, this entry is a mixed bag.

The plot centers around the investigation into Anton Murik, a world famous, rather infamous, nuclear physicist. His plans for an `ultra safe` nuclear reactor have made him the laughing stock of the nuclear science community. Leaving in disgrace, he vows to prove to the world his ideas can work. Even if it means mass murdering billions.

Accompanying Murik, at most times, are, as usual, beautiful women. Lavendar Peacock is his niece, and his ward. She`s also the rightful heir to the Murik estate, but Anton has cheated her out of that. Then there`s Mary Jane Mashkin, Murik`s confidante. A fellow nuclear physicist herself, both she and Murik spend a lot of personal time creating a little fusion of their own, though Mary Jane is more than happy to try and get Bond to do the same with her. He refuses.

Bond is more interested in how Murik`s supposedly inferior horse, China Blue, is winning races she`s not favored to win. It`s really almost an irrelevant plot point, but it does finally get Bond into the castle estate of Anton Murik. There, Gardner commits his biggest mistake of the book. He uses a standard cliche seen in so many Bond movies or spoofs: he gets the villian to tell just about every detail of his secret plan and then does not shoot or kill Bond right away. Instead, he spends more time trying to figure out ingenious ways to kill Bond when simply putting a gun to Bond`s head and pulling the trigger would do the job.

After getting all the details of Murik`s plan, Bond tries to make an escpae from the grand castle to warn M. Caught, he`s eventually put on a plane with Murik to head to a fashion show in France. There, all Bond knows is that he must escape from Murik and stop the assasination of some female due to take place at the show. At first Bond believes that the female is royalty, but he soon realizes Murik plans to have Lavendar killed, and it somehow all ties into Operation Meltdown.

As villians go, Murik is standard. I didn`t buy Gardner`s reasoning on why a man like Murik would murder millions or perhaps billions just so the world could see how safe his reactors would be. The logic and rationale simply isn`t there. Mary Jane Mashkin doesn`t come off much better. She is essentially a female Murik, just with less characterization. Lavendar Peacock is woefully written. One of the worst written and must useless Bond girls in any 007 book . Much of the dialogue between James and Lavender consists of “Oh, my darling James.” Or, “James, my darling”. No one uses words and phrases like that. Only Caber seems to get any good of the good lines, and most of his are indecipherable because of his accent.

Some of the problems with License Renewed would only get worse as Gardner continued making more novels. Bond belongs in the age range of mid to late 30`s, not 57 as Gardner puts him. There`s an unfamiliararity with Gardner`s Bond, simply because we`ve always known of Bond in a certain way, and in a certain age range. There`s also a lack of fire in this Bond. It`s almost as if Gardner can`t grasp who Bond is or is just apathetic towards him. There almost comes across a rather blase approach to Bond in this book. Gardner`s strong points in this book include interesting plot set ups, and action sequences, but when it comes to decent characterization, it appears Mr. Gardner`s license was revoked.

John Steed: An Authorized Biography

John Steed – An Authorized Biography, Volume One: Jealous in Honour
by Tim Heald
pub 1977

A fictional biography about the lead character in the sixties` television show “The Avengers”. The book is faintly reminiscent of John Pearson`s Bond biography. Bond only appears in one chapter:

“One factor which seems to have contributed to John`s unhappiness at this time was the bullying which was an unfortunate feature of life in the school – or at least in those circles in which Steed moved. The main bully was a boy called Bond, later to achieve a certain notoriety in a career not totally unlike Steed`s. Indeed their paths were to cross several times in adult life, seldom with profitable results. Although Bond was only two or so years older than Steed (a fact which will doubtless be disputed by Bond and his cronies) he was a great deal bigger. One of his fetishes was to make smaller boys stir his evening mug of cocoa for him, just as in later life he was to make a laughable affectation out of his insistence on dry martini cocktails being stirred rather than shaken (author`s error–ed). One day he demanded that Steed perform this service. Steed refused. Bond again insisted.

“Who the h*** do you think you are?” enquired Steed, suggesting at the same time that he should pick on someone his own size.

“Bond, James Bond,” replied the bully, clearly expecting young Steed to fall grovelling at his feet.

“Well, Bond,” said Steed evenly, “If you`d like to present yourself behind the Fives Courts by Jordan in half an hour`s time I`ll show you in the only language you apparently understand, precisely why I have no intention of stirring your rotten cocoa.”

Alas, poor Bond! He had never heard of the Bodger business at Lydeard Lodge. Thirty minutes later he was waiting behind the fivescourts, aglow with cocky truculence. Thirty-five minutes later he was being half dragged home by two of his familiars, his jaw and his ego both equally badly bruised. Yet even this success made little difference to Steed`s happiness. He continued to find Eton not to his taste.*

“Hartington Rowse was a senior beak, and insisted on being present at the Bill for CA Elliot`s first few halves to show him the ropes. His influence was draconian. Later in 1936, when he expelled James Bond for the more commonplace Etonian offence of getting a boys` maid into trouble, Elliot had managed to get rid of his unwelcome companion at will.” [Chapter 4, “Eton”]

James Bond’s London

James Bond Is Absolutely Fabulous In “London”

Have you heard of the new Bond’s London? Daleon Enterprises’ first book, Gary Giblin’s “James Bond’s London” has been published (finally!) and is more than worth the wait.

Featuring gorgeous cover work by Jeff Marshall and thoughtful design layout by Dave Worrall (The Essential Bond), “London” is jam-packed with a treasure trove of 007-ly information. Giblin’s comprehensive guide to London Bond locations includes behind the scenes information on every 007 site in Britain’s capital. Giblin’s book provides fans with hundreds of hotspots for 007 literary and movie action, plus family and friend locations from the legacy of Ian Fleming, all in London (and we thought we did well to find Ian Fleming’s house and Planet Hollywood on our last England visit!).

Giblin’s book is a breath of fresh air and definitely not the typical “Look at me, I copied quotations from authors and films and made a fast guide to James Bond.” Giblin’s incredible softcover volume runs nearly 200 pages. All Bond
locations inside are sorted by area of greater London, making it easy to have a Bond-themed day in any section of this sprawling city. Directions to each 007 spot along with the nearest underground station are thoughtfully included. Extensive indexes also cross-reference locations by movie, book, Bond’s lifestyle, espionage themes, and more, so fans can develop their favorite itinerary with ease. Items of “shaken and stirred special interest” are also highlighted throughout.

Even if you aren’t planning a London trip soon, you’ll enjoy the anecdotes and insights filling James Bond’s London. Extras include a foreword by Peter Hunt, a tribute to Ian Fleming by Christopher Lee, and a synopsis of 1959’s “James Bond of the Secret Service”. Gary Giblin’s scholarship on this work is laudable, as he worked closely in collaboration with everyone from Desmond Llewelyn and Oscar-winning designer Peter Lamont to John Stears and the heirs of Ian Fleming on his new book. His acknowledgements page reads as a who’s who of the world of James
Bond. A fine trivia challenge on nearly every page and wonderful stills of locations, the Bond actors and the EON production team round out this fabulous book.

For now, there are more than enough readers of to scoop up the first 1,000 copies of “London” at, each of which features a beautiful, signed author’s nameplate on the inside cover from the author. Go get ’em! I can barely wait for the forthcoming “James Bond’s Britain”. -Matt Sherman

Order your signed copy of Gary Giblin’s “James Bond’s London” now at

James Bond: The Authorized Biography

The Hero: James Bond

The Villains: Vlacek, Oborin, Gomez, General Grubozaboyschikov, Heinkel, Irma Bunt

The Bond Girls: Marthe de Brandt, Muriel, Honeychile (Ryder) Schultz, Tiffany Case, Nashda

Bond`s Family: Andrew Bond (Bond`s father), Monique Delacroix (Bond`s mother), Henry Bond (Bond`s older brother), Aunt Charmian

Supporting Characters (fictional): Urquhart, Maddox, Rene Mathis, May, Sir James Molony

Supporting Characters (real life): John Pearson, Sir William Stephenson, Ian Fleming, Guy Burgess, Admiral Godfrey

Locations covered: Bahamas, Europe, Africa, North America

*James Bond – The Authorized Biography Of 007* is the most complex, ambitious, and experimental James Bond novel. No review this short could encompass the novel or do it justice. It is erratic, and Pearson makes several bad choices, but his writing and the clever touches make it one of the best Bond novels, one of the most important, and one of the most readable.

Written in the first person like Fleming`s novel “The Spy Who Loved Me”, the narrator, John Pearson, explains that after his bestselling book “The Life Of Ian Fleming” was published, he discovered that James Bond existed. The British Secret Service impede his investigation, but finally acquiesce, and commission him to write Bond`s biography. Pearson travels to Bermuda to hear Bond`s life story: the early years, the death of his parents, being expelled from Eton, his facial scar, becoming 007, how Ian Fleming came to write the Bond novels, his son James Suzuki, right up to the present as Bond – recovering from acute hepatitis – waits for M to reassign him to active duty.

Pearson is a sensitive and talented writer. His prose is lucid and he`s a better stylist than Fleming (if rather light). What he gets right is so assured, and dovetails so neatly into Fleming`s originals that you don`t immediately recognize the skill involved – and it is easy to underestimate what he gets right.

The opening scenes – Pearson stumbling across the truth – are remarkable, and there are moments in the novel that are as good as anything in Fleming (and occasionally just as vivid): killing the Japanese cypher clerk (Chapter 6; one of several details Fleming had briefly mentioned in the novels that Pearson fleshes out); choosing the Beretta, and May becoming his housekeeper (Chapter 8); investigating Gutteridge, the Jamaican Station head, and the Kull cult (Chapter 8; it`s reminiscent of Fleming`s “Live And Let Die”); Demetrios, a villain, (Chapter 9) is an excellent character, similar to Draco, Kerim Bey and Colombo, and proof that Pearson should have written more Bond novels; searching for 009 in war-torn Hungary (Chapter 13; a Gardner Bond novel owes something to it: at one point, Heinkel says “No deals, Mr Bond.”). In Chapter 10, a villain puts a bomb under Bond`s bed, but luckily enough Bond is sleeping elsewhere – this scene eventually found its way into the renegade Bond film “Never Say Never Again”.

Bond`s relationship with Tiffany Case (Chapter 12) is one of the best chapters in the book and the series – this can`t be stressed enough: “Had it been anyone but Bond, he would have recognized the situation straight away. Tiffany had changed: she was alternately distant and over-loving, gentle yet rejecting, critical and then subservient. In short she was showing all the classic symptoms of a woman having an affair. But Bond, who had not be cuckolded since the age of twelve, was merely puzzled. What was wrong with her? Was it her period? The condition seemed to last too long for that.” (Chapter 12)

Pearson also shows that he`s psychologically skilful elsewhere:

“But the one relative they both adored was their father`s only sister, their Aunt Charmian – sweet, sad Charmian, bride of three weeks, whose husband had died at Passchendaele. She lived in Kent, grew dahlias and believed in God.”(Chapter 2)

“In the two Bond boys she had found something her life had lacked – a purpose – and this slightly dumpy, gentle woman dedicated herself to them with all the single-mindedness of her family.” (Chapter 2)

Or, in Egypt, when Bond sees his mother with another man:

“James called out to her, but the smart Mrs Bond failed to recognize the street Arab as her son.” (Chapter 2)

When the family goes to the USSR by train:

“The rare excitement of eating a meal with his mother in the restaurant, the white gloves of the waiters, the mineral water and the reading lamp beside his bed.” (Chapter 2)

“For Monique it was unspeakable. There were no shops, no night-life and no entertainment.” (Chapter 2)

“During the long months in Russia she had hung on, because she had to. The boys depended on her. Now that all this was over, she fell to pieces. Her zest for life deserted her.” (Chapter 2)

Bond`s father is a taciturn one-armed Scots engineer for Metro-Vickers; his mother, Monique Delacroix, is a masterstroke – carefree and ultimately unfaithful, born into a wealthy family who disinherit her when she elopes with Andrew Bond, Monique Delacroix is vividly drawn and appealing. You have to study Pearson`s craftsmanship to realize just how neatly the details fit, how perfect they are. Though the climbing incident faintly suggests parody and might have crossed into it, it works and augments Fleming`s originals. It`s as vivid and memorable as anything Fleming did.

Pearson has trouble depicting Bond in the book`s first half, but some details are perfect:

“Smeared morning make-up quite upset him and he disliked it if his women used the lavatory. Any demands, except overtly sexual ones, made him impatient. […] With such an attitude to women it was not surprising that James Bond stayed resolutely single, especially as his habits were becoming more and more confirmed with age. […] Bond secretly preferred them to leave shortly after making love. (Since they generally had husbands, they invariably did.) […] He also admired faithful wives (indeed, deep down they were the only women that he *did* admire).” (Chapter 7)

“It was somehow typical of Bond to be complaining about luxury whilst still enjoying it.” (Chapter 5)

There are other clever touches. Pearson integrates real-life details into the story: when Fleming has his first heart attack and can`t write that year`s book, Urquhart flies to Canada, meets Vivienne Michel, who has literary ambitions of her own. Much to Bond`s disgust, she writes the book. “What can one do about that sort of woman?” he complains. And, in a nod at Fleming`s originals, Bond, bored by inactivity, waits to be summoned by M (only to be sent off on duty at the end). The novel has a bookend structure; it begins with Pearson by himself on a flight for honeymooners, and ends with a broken engagement.

Pearson observes the tension escalate while Bond waits to be put back on active duty – these sections are intelligent and realistic; after a cold telegram from M, Bond resigns from the service and proposes to Honeychile. At a party celebrating both:

“As I left the yacht somebody was playing the Beatles` record, “Yesterday”. I noticed Bond was on his own and staring out to sea. An era suddenly seemed over.” (Chapter 15)

However, what Pearson gets wrong jars, and there are flaws; in this type of book the errors are always more noticeable than the merits.

Though it`s meant to be a fictional biography, Pearson can`t give the book any kind of shape or structure; it`s more like a collection of short (and very short) stories instead of a continuous narrative. Parts of the book are sketchy – the “Colonel Sun” period for example (perhaps because Pearson would have to explain Kingsley Amis`s involvement, though as Amis had shown in his short story “Who or What Was It?”, he can mix fiction and reality). It isn`t cohesive, and the episodes during the 1930`s and 1940`s bloat the book out of shape. The Casino sequence, where he defeats the Roumanians (in Chapter 4; Fleming mentioned it in “Casino Royale”) is tired and lax. It`s also silly and unbelievable: the luminous reader ploy is obvious; worse, Bond is only a teenager. Weren`t there any adults? Bond`s preference for the perfect boiled egg is too close to parody, and the training process that he undergoes, some of his missions, (or misadventures, such as a bar room brawl) are unbelievable precisely because he`s too young (some of these episodes would work better if he were older).

Pearson also gets into trouble with early details. I don`t mind that Bond is born in Germany, but it creates logistic problems later on that Pearson glosses over (i.e. Marthe de Brandt, Maddox, joining the service, etc).

Fleming was never consistent about Bond`s age – according to “You Only Live Twice”, he was born in 1924, but “Moonraker” suggests that it was no later than 1916. Pearson settles for 1920, an unhappy compromise and a crucial flaw, which creates many problems in the book`s first half. Bond is a teenager when he kills and joins the Secret Service (though Pearson is clever enough to first make Bond a courier for the service, which is credible and a nice touch).

He also kills without qualm. In Fleming`s novels, Bond was adverse to killing in cold blood – probably the only soggy concept in the Fleming books. Bond kills Marthe de Brandt, even though he`s involved with her his motives are weak and unconvincing – patriotism only goes so far and there`s nothing to suggest that Bond is patriotic). The outcome, Marthe`s eventual innocence, could have explained Bond`s eventual reluctance to kill in cold blood (i.e. “what if I`m wrong?”), but Pearson doesn`t seem to realize this and misses an opportunity.

When Pearson becomes sloppy, so too does the psychology (perhaps it`s the other way around). Pearson seems to be such a sensitive writer that when he can`t get a handle on a scene, or get into its centre, it becomes unconvincing (compare Fleming`s novel “Goldfinger”; Goldfinger`s motives for keeping Bond alive are flimsy, but that doesn`t faze Fleming). Marthe`s death and the opening paragraph in Chapter 4 are excellent – the writing helps disguise the flaws, but they are marred because Bond`s decision to kill, so coldly, so quickly, is unbelievable – Pearson hasn`t set it up properly. Bond is too young, and his motives for killing her are poor (this is his first kill). Later, after he`s killed many – without remorse – his qualms about killing are incongruous (i.e. his tinge of guilt before, and after, killing the Japanese cypher clerk. Bond`s conscience weakens the otherwise excellent scene, which is as good as anything in Fleming. Why does it matter if the daughter is there?).

Pearson isn`t sure how to portray Bond and stumbles, as in Chapters 5 and 6, when he relies on empty rhetoric (and poor psychology). He explains, unconvincingly, that Bond is a romantic and what Bond`s likes and dislikes are in women even though it contradicts other passages. Pearson also seems to be writing about Sean Connery Bond, not Fleming`s Bond; Bond is much wilder and reckless than would be expected. Bond should have been introspective and sombre, mature ahead of his years; instead, in Chapter 3, he knocks out somebody who calls him Marthe de Brandt`s poodle; in Chapter 7, he assaults a young French diplomat, misbehaves at a film premiere, then cheats at cards because he needs money.

There are other weak moments. In Chapter 4, Bond decides not to blame Maddox, when logically he should have; anybody would have. The psychology in the Oberhauser scene (Chapter 5) and Molony`s speech to Bond (Chapter 13) are poor. Bond hits on Maddox`s wife Regine (Chapter 7), even though the scandal involving the congressman`s drunken wife has just gotten him fired from the Secret Service. And why doesn`t he want Maddox on his conscience?

Pearson also trashes Fleming details – some details had to be changed, but he changes too many for no apparent reason: Bond isn`t expelled from Eton for sleeping with the headmaster`s daughter – he gets expelled for taking a girl out to dinner (Pearson`s version makes no sense and is inconsequential). Pearson gives him an older brother, even though Bond has the psychological profile of an only child, or failing that, the older brother. Honeychile Schultz (nee Ryder) from *Dr No* is now a ritzy gold-digger; this part of the book is potentially disastrous. Bond intends to marry her – but her personality and his interest in her reflect badly on him: what does he see in her? And what does that say about him? (this section of Chapter 6 is sharply etched, but extremely un-Bondlike). There are other changes: the incidents described in the novel *Moonraker* never occurred (for obvious reasons) – they were just invented to fool the Russians that Bond doesn`t exist (Pearson doesn`t even summarize the novel properly; he also claims early on that there are only *13* Bond books). M champions the books, yet according to Bond`s obituary in “You Only Live Twice”, he deplored them. (Pearson says that M and Fleming had a falling out, but doesn`t say how or why.)

Fleming is badly drawn and flits through the book like a cypher, which is strange given that Pearson was his apprentice and wrote his biography. Pearson glosses over how Bond and Fleming became acquainted, and stumbles when he explains how Fleming came to write the Bond novels. It`s supposed to be a ruse to make the Russians think that Bond doesn`t exist, but the motive is needlessly complicated and doesn`t make sense; if anything, it would only prove that he does, and draw attention to him.

The closing pages, involving Irma Bunt, are exciting, yet frustrating and anti-climatic – it`s one of the series` great tragedies that Pearson wasn`t brought back to write the Australian sequel.

Ultimately, the approach is questionable. Would Pearson have been better off writing a straight biography? Should he have included himself and Fleming as characters in the novel? But despite the flaws, what he gets right (Chapters 1, most of 2, 8, 9, 15, with 9, 14 and parts of 13 being noteworthy) is what counts.

James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me

The Hero: James Bond
The Villain: Sigmund Stromberg
The Bond Girl: Anya Amasova
Supporting Characters: Jaws (Zbigniew Krycsiwiki); General Nikitin; Kate Chapman; Fekkesh; Kalba; Martine Blanchaud; Captain Carter; Talbot; May (Bond`s housekeeper)
Locations: Switzerland, Russia, England, Egypt, Sardinia, North Atlantic

This was the first Bond film that was novelized, and Christopher Wood, who co-wrote the film, is also the novelist. In many ways his achievement is astonishing. It is one of the best Bond novels, but more importantly, it`s a rich and allusive novel. A proper review would require a page-by-page, sometimes even a line-by-line analysis; a thumbnail sketch must suffice.

Wood duplicates Fleming`s mannerisms and even makes nods to the original novels. He includes the background information on Smersh (in “From Russia, With Love”), carefully updated in Chapter 3. Anya`s superior, General Nikitin, was one of the plotters in “From Russia, With Love”. We learn in Chapter 10 that another of the plotters, Lieutenant-General Vozdvishensky of RUMID, has since defected and that Bond`s time for a diploma at his language symposium for Ministry of Defence employees broke all records. There are references to other Fleming novels: “Moonraker” (the time it takes Bond to draw a gun), “Dr No” (Boothroyd deep-sixing Bond`s Beretta – which is now Anya`s choice of weapons; the rain details in Chapter 4). Stromberg and Nikitin`s eyes become pinpoints of red, a nod at Fleming`s “glint of red”. May still has that tick about calling people “Sir”. And there are more references to Bond`s late wife than in any other post-Fleming Bond novel. There are also Fleming sounding details: Chapter 2 has a Casino scene (Bond loses badly at roulette), and he chides himself for letting the soft life catch up to him. Bond`s torture in Chapter 10 alludes to “Casino Royale”. Anya stings Bond with her ring a la Rosa Klebb in Chapter 12. Only someone who respected his source material could be so meticulous.

The novelization is also much darker and more interesting than the film. Consider how Wood describes Stromberg`s background:

“This he immediately began to do with great vigour, and for a young man he showed a remarkable conversance with death, and what he described as its `packaging`. Cremation was what he advocated as the cleanest, purest and most ecologically satisfactory way to go and as business prospered he built his own private crematorium. He had to wait rather longer than anticipated for this because the firm contracted to do the business were at that time engaged in building similar, but rather larger, installations in Nazi Germany.” (Chapter 5)

Few writers are this nimble.

There are other clever touches. In Chapter 2, Sergei`s dying thoughts – Anya, the hotel, the children playing by the beach – are sensitively handled and reiterate the Greta Garbo detail in Chapter 1 (i.e. “consigning”, since nothing can ever be the same between them). At the end of Chapter 21, Bond wonders what`s become of Anya. Wood slowly and discreetly reveals her predicament, which is both horrifying and darkly funny (here, “in medias res” dialogue contributes to the effect, and is appropriate and brilliant).

Wood loves getting into the character`s heads and deserves credit for injecting so many human moments into the book. Ultimately, he`s written a novel about people, about adults. The chapters where he delves into the character`s backgrounds are remarkable (Anya in Chapter 3, Stromberg in Chapter 5, and Jaws in Chapter 12).

Bond is smarter, more fastidious, and human than Fleming`s Bond. He`s also occasionally clumsy, which is more realistic and endearing. He`s an intelligent man in an insane world who struggles against fate, but when the chips are down has that famous “Nelson touch”.

Anya is unusually complex and one of the best drawn women in the series (though she`s inconsistent and two dimensional during the middle when she`s not sure whether Bond is appealing or annoying. By this stage, she should have felt some grudging admiration for Bond; instead her thoughts are flat). She`s a professional – in Chapter 15, she leans out the window and fires two shots at a pursuing car, destroying it. She says nothing. Wood`s prose is as efficient as her trade-craft. Other subtle details shade her: in Chapter 14, she makes her bed every morning (and wonders if Bond has noticed) because she doesn`t want the maids to think that Bond doesn`t sleep with her, not that she would sleep with him. She`s also vulnerable – Wood shrewdly uses details to emphasize her childlike innocence. Almost everyone preys on her: Nikitin wants to ride her like a cossack, Jaws falls in love with her, and Stromberg sees her as the beginning of a new civilization, plucked from nothing to be the womb that furnishes an original species.

Bond and Anya`s relationship is the novel`s focal point. Discussing her Bulgarian minders, Bond says, “You must be lonely without your boyfriends.” She replies, “They are easily replaced.” This can also be taken to mean Sergei, and foreshadows her decision in Chapter 24. In Chapter 13, M orders them to go as man and wife. This has other considerations. In a nod to Fleming`s originals, Anya reminds Bond of Tracy (Chapters 11 and 17); in the latter chapter Anya even utters Bond`s last words to Tracy. It`s not all one way, either. In Chapter 11, Bond reminds Anya of her late lover Sergei (we`re meant to think that she`s with Bond in the rather overwritten first chapter; Bond and Sergei somewhat resemble each other).

Chapter 17 has many brilliant touches and is one of the book`s best chapters. The brisk, opening paragraphs, are cleverly written from a group perspective; the detail about the roses, seemingly sweet, has horrifying consequences later on. Bond and Anya limp back to the hotel – which is realistic – and fall into each other`s arms, which is psychologically accurate; danger brings people together. Wood is clever enough not to reveal the message until the chapter`s last paragraph, so that we see Anya`s reactions objectively. She looks up at the vase in Bond`s hands as though momentarily wondering why he has it – an excellent touch. She smiles and nods apologetically when she remembers that Bond is a commander in the navy and doesn`t need to be told about ships. Her tone is businesslike. She squeezes Bond`s hand: “I do not have to say anything, do I?” The humanity is unexpected and overwhelming. “This is why we are here. This is the most important thing. We can wait.” Nothing can ever be the same between them. Wood is clever in other ways; Bond and Anya discuss business (the shape of the Lepadus), which increases the tension, and more importantly is realistic and adult. Bond traces a circle on her wrist and discusses an Italian dinner – he knows something is wrong; this detail is sensitive and one of many examples where Bond becomes three-dimensional; it also properly integrates his designer goods tastes into the book (e.g. when he contemplates Anya`s clothes in Chapter 14, or helps the stewardess through his drink in Chapter 7 – so often one detail enhances other aspects).

There are nice details in Chapter 18, (though the actual confrontation is poor): Anya wriggling like a child into Bond`s arms, her head turned; the Paul Jones observation; Bond`s feelings about Russian women`s emotions. Moreover Stromberg`s intentions as revealed in Chapter 20 are crucial because they nudge her back in Bond`s direction.

The last chapter (25) is appropriately sombre: Anya appears unexpectedly on Bond`s doorstep. Is she defecting? What did Stromberg do to her on board Atlantis? She is – in Ian Fleming`s words – a bird with a wing down. But Wood is clever. Bond collapses after rescuing her from Atlantis and is sent home to recuperate. In the following scene, which also shows how different the novelization and the film are, neither character is stronger than the other:

“Carter accepted Bond`s outstretched hand and grasped it warmly. “Thanks. I hope we work together again sometime. Oh, by the way” – his eye twinkled – “there was some girl hanging around on the front doorstep when I arrived. I think she wants to see you.”

“Do you think I`d want to see her?” asked Bond.

Carter pretended to consider the question and then nodded his head. “I think you might.” He raised a hand to his temple and was gone.*

“Bond stood up, feeling a mounting sense of excitement spread through him. Was he being stupid? Could it be possible? Somebody came into the room behind him and he turned, expecting to see May.”

It was Anya. She wore a black woollen coat down to her ankles and carried a large, soft leather grip. Her face was as beautiful as he had dared to remember it. Perhaps more so. She put down her bag and faced him squarely. “I have come to look after you.”

Bond looked at her lovingly. “But I don`t need looking after. I`m perfectly fit. Right at this moment I feel better than I have ever done. Anyway, I have a housekeeper to look after me”

“The woman with the stern black uniform who was putting on her hat to shopping when I arrived?” Bond smiled and nodded. “Does she hold a State Nursing Certificate, first class?”

Bond rested his hands on either side of Anya`s slim shoulders. “Now you come to mention it, I rather think she does. Sweet, darling Anya. What are you doing here? What about Russia? What about your job?”

She looked up at him and her lips trembled. “Let us say I am on holiday. I will tell you all later – much later.” She began to unbutton her coat.

The other characters are well sketched. In a major departure from the film, Wood exploits the sexual predator element present in Jaws. Stromberg is a monster even in childhood, born grossly deformed. He`s a great villain, though he`s underused – an inherent story flaw that the novelization can`t get around. In Chapter 20, Stromberg checks his wet mouth into a semblance of a smile because Anya knows what he`s talking about – Wood knows how to write moments for his characters. Nikitin – originally a Fleming character – is also wonderfully drawn (Chapters 3 and 13). Wood avoids rhetoric and lets action speak for the characters, which is more effective: Nikitin`s hand burrows up Anya`s skirt (this detail and “the scent of roses” are throwbacks to similar details in Fleming`s “From Russia, With Love”; “face of the moon” recalls a similar detail about Red Grant).

Wood uses irony effectively. Just before he`s killed, Fekkesh thinks of Felicca waiting for him at the flat, unaware that she`s dead (Chapter 9; Wood doesn`t botch it by adding, “little did he know that she was already dead”). Kalba is pleased that Fekkesh has been killed; now he just has to eliminate Kate Chapman (Stromberg`s secretary), unaware that she too is dead (Chapter 11). What does he care if she put her life on the line stealing the tracking device for him? Bond notes that Talbot`s face is unmarked by any contact with the unpleasant realities of life and imagines the teacups at the vicarage trembling when Talbot returns on leave. Moments later, Talbot is torched, and collapses on his own grenade (Chapter 21). In Chapter 18, Bond hopes that Anya doesn`t have a gun in her hand when she divulges her feelings, foreshadowing Chapter 24 (the comment about Russian women shades Anya). Nikitin intentionally withholds the news that Bond killed Sergei (Chapter 13). In Chapter 3, Anya compares the Communist faith to the Christian with horrifying consequences in Chapter 21: Stromberg selects her to be the initiator of a new civilization, akin to Mary in the Christian dogma.

There are flaws, though. Wood can`t seem to cut free from the mechanical story and this prevents the book from being more cohesive. At times he overwrites and gets bogged down in minutia: e.g. Chapter 1 (though the Greta Garbo detail is nice, as is the way that we`re led to believe that it`s Bond); ditto the beginning of Chapter 14, and most of 16 (compare Chapter 17`s sprightly beginning). His prose also has an unrefined quality; though clever, the Chapter 5 quote above is somewhat stilted (compare his prose to John Pearson`s). He likes similes – perhaps too much – they can be very useful, but are essentially static and generally unnecessary (his earliest novels overdo them). The descriptive action passages are tedious – fluid writing would have helped here; it also undercuts the impact the human moments would otherwise have. But it is one of the best books in the series, and like “Colonel Sun”, a serious novel, one that should and can be appreciated for it`s literary merit. Unfortunately, the novel is out of print – an unfortunate oversight that should be rectified.

James Bond And Moonraker (Film Novelization)

The Moonraker novelization was penned by the film`s screenwriter Christopher Wood, and was released to coincide with the movie`s premiere in the summer of 1979.

Having previously written the novelization to 1977`s Spy Who Loved Me, Christopher Wood was once again picked to put Bond`s adventures in book form. In his Spy novelization Christopher tried to follow Ian Fleming`s style of writing; deviating on many occasions from the movie`s plotline and dialogue. When this method of novelizing a Bond film did not sit well with the public, on Wood`s next literary venture, James Bond and Moonraker, he adhered more to the movie`s plot and words.

The novel followed Moonraker`s plot of a madman`s scheme to destroy life on earth and repopulate it with his own breed of the perfect human specimen. Like the movie, the book took 007 from Drax`s estate in California, to Venice, to Brazil, and finally to Drax`s orbiting space station. While faithfully following the film, the novelization did contain some differences:

Drax`s pilot, Corinne Du Four in the film was in the book Trudi Parker; the original name of the character which was changed upon the signing of actress Corinne Clery.

The eerie sequence where Corinne is killed by the Dobermans is only referred to as having happened “offscreen.”

The scene where Bond kills the sniper who was aiming at him during the pheasant hunt is omitted from the book.

In Venice Bond`s gondolier is shot instead of stabbed by the living corpse.

Like in the movie, 007`s gondola turns into a motorboat, and the killers chase him through the canals of Venice;however, instead of the gondola transforming into a hovercraft and entering St Mark`s Square, Bond jumps out of the gondola at the last minute before it crashes into the killers` boat. So the infamous double-taking pigeon is nowhere to be found.

During the space finale, the laser guns are called laser torches. In addition to the laser battle between Drax`s men and the space marines, the novel contains a scene that would have added to Moonraker`s excitement; James Bond ends up outside the space station and is momentarily detached from it. 007 must fight to get back to the station before he is sucked into the void of deep space.

Overall Christopher Wood does an admirable job of novelizing Moonraker; even more then his Spy effort. The novel captures the movie nicely, with only minor instances where scenes or dialogue differ; and the new parts not seen in the final film help to make it all the more enjoyable.


The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girls: Paula Vacker, Annie Tudeer, Rivke Ingber; The Villain: Count Von Gloda; Supporting Characters: Kolya Mosolov, “Bad” Brad Tirpitz, Trifon; Finland, London, Libya, Madeira Island; First Published: 1983

Icebreaker. In one word? Fantastic. Icebreaker succeeds on three different levels. First, it`s Gardner`s best Bond novel. Second, it`s one of the best 007 novels, and third, it`s one of the best thrillers I`ve ever read.

Icebreaker is a fast paced, rip roaring, non-stop, unrelenting page turner. It provides the reader with a credible plot (and one that is a current issue, even today), realistic villians, the strongest Bond girls in a Gardner novel, multiple shifts of loyalty, and untapped locations. Let`s start with the plot.

Icebreaker starts off with Bond making a quick change in schedule to drop in on an old dalliance, a Nordic bombshell named Paula Vacker. Bond barely had time to tell Paula that he was in Helsinki. Even Bond did`nt anticipate being in Helsinki until about six hours ago. So, how did two thugs end up waiting in Paula`s apartment for Bond?

Bond doesn`t have time to get into all the specifics of who might`ve figured out he was coming to Finland, or why. Instead, “M” has summoned Bond to London, to recruit 007 to be part of an international team conducting operation “Icebreaker”. Agents of the KGB (Kolya Mosolov), CIA (“Bad” Brad Tirpitz), and the Mossad-Israeli Intelligence (Rivke Ingber) are going to conduct a clandestine trip across the Arctic Circle and through the Finnish-Russian border.

Their mission: document, photograph, and verify that arms shipments coming out of a remote bunker deep in Russian Arctic territory are going to a Neo-Nazi Facist group called the National Socialist Action Army. This group has as it`s goal, nothing less than world wide domination under a Nazi fascist state, with a new Fuhrer, the Count Konrad Von Gloda as it`s leader. It has conducted numerous terrorist acts against civilians around the world. The organization is growing, and it`s armaments are getting more sophisticated and more deadly. If possible, Bond and the Icebreaker team are to destroy the bunker, the outgoing shipment, and the pipeline to the NSAA.

That`s easier said than done. The problem with the Icebreaker team is that no one trusts anyone else. Exactly why would the KGB invite British intelligence onto Soviet soil to watch arms being shipped to terrorist groups? What history might the CIA have with the NSAA that they would like to have their agent, Brad Tirpitz, make sure stays buried? What mysterious past could Rivke Ingber possibly have that could jeaporadize the entire mission?

“If Bond had started by trusting nobody, the feeling had now grown into deep suspicion toward anybody connected with Icebreaker. And that included M, who had also been like a clam when it came to detail.”

In this book, Bond is still Bond, but he`s more of a participant than a protaganist. This may cause some concern for Bond purists, who feel 007 should be the driving force in a Bond novel. I agree. Except in this case. There`s a refreshing change of pace and strategy here with Icebreaker. Gardner takes some of the pressure off maintaining the Bond character, and instead creates wonderful villians, and the strongest Bond girls ever.

Ahhh…yes. The Bond girls. In Icebreaker, there are three Bond girls. But there`s a mysterious twist involved there. These Bond girls kicked Bond`s butt, literally, from Maderia Island all the way to Finland. It may not seem cool. It may not seem macho. It doesn`t matter. It was just plain fun watching these women outsmart, outmanipulate, and generally betray Bond all the way through the book. It keeps Bond more alert and more on his toes than ever.

The locations are also a switch from the normal Bond fare. The Caribbean has always been a staple of the Bond stories, from both Fleming and Gardner. With Icebreaker we get a glimpse into a rarely used location in either the books or the films-Finland.

The action sequences are spectacularly devised and written. There are lot`s of snowmobile chases ,and explosions. Bond is treated to a sadistic twist of ice cold Chinese water torture , and there is a knife fight thrown in as well.

Chaper 20, Destiny, contained one plot twist too many. T he story still holds credibility, but it was just more unneccessary than anything else. Still, Icebreaker is Gardner`s best work, one of the best entries into the 007 series, and one of the best thrillers ever.

Ian Fleming’s Unfinished Short Stories

Incomplete works:

Two short stories (1960s) by Ian Fleming Excerpts were published in the UK edition of John Pearson`s “The Life of Ian Fleming”.

Excerpt 1:
(Written shortly before he died, Fleming never got past the first page and a half. Fleming based the character Zographos on a real-life card dealer with the same name.) …”It was like this, Mr Bond.” Zographos had a precise way of speaking with the thin tips of his lips while his half-hard half-soft Greek eyes measured the reaction of his words on the listener… “The Russians are chess players. They are mathematicians. Cold machines. But they are also mad. The mad ones forsake the chess and the mathematics and become gamblers. Now, Mr Bond.” Zographos laid a hand on Bond`s sleeve and quickly withdrew it because he knew Englishmen, just as he knew the characteristics of every race, every race with money, in the world. “There are two gamblers… the man who lays the odds and the man who accepts them. The bookmaker and the punter. The casino and, if you like” – Mr Zographos`s smile was sly with the “shared secret” and proud with the right word – “The suckers.”

Excerpt 2:
In the early morning, at about 7.30, the stringy whimperings of the piped radio brought visions of a million homes waking up all over Britain… of him, or perhaps her, getting up to make the early morning tea, to put the dog out, to stoke the boiler. And then will this shirt do for another day? The socks, the paints? The Ever-ready, the Gillette shave, the Brylcreem on the hair, the bowler hat or the homburg, the umbrella and the briefcase or the sample case? Then “Dodo”, the family saloon out on the concrete arterial, probably with her driving. The red-brick station, the other husbands, the other wives, the clickety-click of the 8.15 round the curve by the gold course. Hullo Sidney! Hullo Arthur! After you Mr Shacker… and the drab life picking up speed and flicking on up the rails between the conifers and the damp evergreens. Bond switched on his electric blanket and waited for his hot water with a slice of lemon and contemplated the world with horror and disgust.

Book of Golden Words (1964)
Ian Fleming`s notebook of ideas. In February 1964, a Daily Express reporter copied several entries from it. Quoting from Henry Ziegler`s “The Spy Who Came In With The Gold”:

There was a notation of the name “Mr Szasz,” which Fleming thought would be ideal for a villain. He had somehow come across the Bulgar proverb “My Enemy`s Enemy (is my friend),” and if he had lived, it would probably have turned up on the lips of some inscrutable villain. Also in the book was the sentence, “You won`t have a lover if you don`t love,” which was pure Fleming and might have issued as wisdom from some future heroine.

(Note: Many of Fleming`s later titles feature pronouns, i.e. For *YOUR* Eyes Only, The Spy Who Loved *ME*, On *HER* Majesty`s Secret Service, *YOU* Only Live Twice, so it`s possible that “My Enemy`s Enemy was a prospective title.)

For a more detailed explanation, please read the article: My Enemy`s Enemy Is My Friend, by following the link below.

Purple Domesticity
by Ian Fleming (circa 1926) A writer asks a painter to illustrate his book about “style, just style”. The artist throws paint at the canvas from two yards away. Books and Bookies praise the author for “the depth of feeling in the script” and the painter for “the breadth of conception in the illustrations”. The critics go on to say: “Deep, deep, stuff. Broad, broad yet how high, how high.”

Death, On Two Occasions
by Ian Fleming (1927) The sadistic Graf Schlick lives in a big castle and preys on a young virgin. Little does he know that his latest victim has leprosy. The story ends with Schlik in the last stages of the painful disease.

A Poor Man Escapes
by Ian Fleming (1927) A man pawns his belongings after his wife dies. He treats himself to a meal and falls asleep inside the restaurant. A waiter calls the police to have the man removed. When the police arrive, the man drinks poison; the waiter wrongly assumes that the man is once again asleep.

“But Henrik had paid and was rich for the first time in his life.”

by Ian Fleming (1928) “Venice station was at its hottest, dustiest, dirtiest. Tony stepped out of the frying pan of his train into its fire. His collar freed itself from his neck in a stream of perspiration.”

Ian Fleming’s State of Excitement (1960)

Ian Fleming
The Kuwait Oil Company commissioned Fleming to write this short book about Kuwait. However, the Kuwaiti Goverment disapproved of the final manuscript, which they found condescending, and the book was never published, despite repeated overtures to the Kuwaiti Goverment over the years.

The frontispiece to Fleming`s copyof the book reads: This is the only bound copy of a short book I wrote on Kuwait in December 1960. It was a condition of my obtaining facilities to visit Kuwait and write the book that the text should have the approval of the Kuwait Oil Company, whose guest I was.

The Oil Company expressed approval of the book but felt it their duty to submit the typescript to members of the Kuwait Government for their approval. The Sheiks concerned found unpalatable certain mild comments and criticism and particularly the passages referring to the adventurous past of the country which now wishes to be “civilised” in every respect and forget its romantic origins.

Accordingly the book was stillborn.

Ian Fleming’s Film And Television Treatments

James Gunn – Secret Agent (1956) A 28 page pilot script for Henry Morgenthau III. When the project fell through, Fleming novelized the script as Dr No.

The Diamond Smugglers (1956) Rank bought the film rights to Fleming`s non-fiction book The Diamond Smugglers (1956). Fleming apparently wrote an 18 page outline. At one point duringthe 1960`s, John Boorman (Deliverance, Hope And Glory) was to have directed.

Six Untitled Television Treatments (1958) For CBS. Three of the treatments eventually became stories: Risico, From A View To A Kill, For Your Eyes Only. No word on what became of the three remaining treatments.

James Bond, Secret Agent (a.k.a Latitude 79) (1958-1960) Ten treatments/scripts, with Jack Whittingham and Kevin McClory. What eventually became Thunderball. Fleming adding the Shrublands sequence, when he novelized the story. McClory sued for plagarism when Fleming published the book.

The Poppy Is Also A Flower (a.k.a Poppies Are Also Flowers) (a.k.a Danger Grows Wild) (a.k.a The Opium Connection) (1966) Fleming discussed a story about drug smuggling with veteran Bond director Terence Young. The story would show the progress of heroin starting as a flower in Iran`s poppy fields and ending in New York City.

After Fleming died, Young worked with his wife, writer Jo Eisinger, on the story.

Originally produced as a United Nations project for tv, the film was eventually made into a poorly received all-star extravaganza, starring, amongst others, Trevor Howard, EG Marshall, Marcello Mastroianni, Angie Dickinson, Rita Hawyworth, and Yul Brenner.

Glidrose barred Young from using Fleming`s name in any promotional capacity, though agreed to the credit “The story is based on an idea by Ian Fleming”.

Ian Fleming Introduces Jamaica

Edited by Morris Cargill (1966)
Published by Andre Deutsch

Fleming was to have written it, but was too ill, so duties fell to his friend, Jamaican journalist Morris Cargill. Fleming only wrote the introduction.

Note: There have been rumours that Morris Cargill, and not Ian Fleming, wrote the Bond novel The Man With The Golden Gun. At the time of Fleming`s death, The Golden Gun, as it was then called, was announced to have only been an incomplete outline.

Horror Wears Blue

By: Lin Carter
published 1987, Doubleday

A science-fiction/fantasy novel. The fifth and last novel in the “Zarkon series”.

James Bond meets “Prince Zarkon” at the Cobalt Club in London. S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is briefly mentioned. Other characters include: George Gideon of Scotland
Yard; Sir Denis Nayland Smith and Val Petrie (“Fu Manchu” books); Bulldog Drummond; Doc Savage`s aide Monk Mayfair; and Simon Templar (“The Saint”).

Lin Carter was born in 1930 and died in 1988.

Chapter 7: At the Cobalt Club

In the members` lounge, Nayland Smith led Prince Zarkon to where two men were sitting, chatting idly over cocktails. Both were lean and tan and fit; one had iron-gray hair which did nothing to conceal the twinkle of devilry in his cool eyes, or the reckless grin on his smooth-shaven, buccaneer`s face.

“Prince Zarkon, may I introduce Mr Templar,” said Sir Dennis. They shook hands.

The other individual was younger, with a black comma of hair hanging over one eye. He also rose at the introduction.

“And Commander Bond.”

“A pleasure,” murmured Zarkon. He knew both men by sight, from their pictures, and they instantly recognized him. Bond gestured to a comfortable leather chair.

“Have a seat, Highness. Let me order you a cocktail,” said Bond. Zarkon rarely drank alcohol, and then only on social occasions such as this, so he nodded. A waiter materialized out of thin air at Bond`s shoulder.

“Try one of mine,” suggested Bond. Zarkon shrugged, and Bond said: “Charles, His Highness will have a vodka martini, very dry-”

“Shaken, but not stirred,” added Templar with a chuckle. Bond`s tastes were quite familiar to his friends in the Cobalt Club. Charles vanished, only to reappear seconds later with a perfect martini which Zarkon sipped politely,
then put down.


“Such as, why are they robbing importers and manufacturers of subminiaturized electronic components?” suggested Templar. “Frankly, that one has *me* baffled. If I had a posse of invulnerable and bulletproof men at
my disposal, it would be the jewelry shops and bullion banks I`d be after, not these electronic fellows.”

Bond chuckled. “Yes, we all know about your early criminous and sometimes burglarious days, Simon.

Fortunately, for the Yard, those days have long since passed by…”

“Miss them, sometimes,” admitted Templar, wistfully.


Commander Bond also rose.

“I have to be getting along myself, Highness, and my car is outside. May I give you a lift to the Yard?”

“With pleasure,” nodded Prince Zarkon. “Let me instruct my driver to return to our hotel. I`ll only be a minute.”

Zarkon was just leaving the member`s lounge to rejoin Bond on the street, having said good-bye to Nayland Smith, Templar, and Drummond.


Bond`s car, Zarkon noticed, was a Saab 900 Turbo. Bond caught his glance, and smiled a bit ruefully.

“Used a Mark II Continental Bentley for years,” he confessed. “Superb machine. I finally dispensed with it; the Saab gets better mileage for the fuel intake, and can convert from gasoline to gasohol, if needed. And we`re a fuel-poor country, it seems, these days. Do get in.”

Seated inside the Saab, Bond drew a flat gunmetal case from his breast pocket and offered Zarkon a cigarette, which Zarkon declined. Bond lit his own and inhaled lustily.

“These are made for me by Morelands of Grosvenor Street,” said Bond. “A bit lower in tar content than anything currently available on the market.”

They tooled away from the curb and headed across London.

“I should have thought that you, or another of the double-O agents, would have received this “Blue Men” assignment, Commander,” remarked Zarkon. Bond shrugged.

“As for me, I`m off for Nepal in a couple of hours,” he replied.

“Ah! Not the rumours of an assassination attempt to be made on the Dalai Lama?” inquired the Nemesis of Evil.

Bond gave his passenger a glance of quiet admiration.

“Your intelligence service must be extraordinary,” he said. “Yes, that`s the case. Uncertain as to who`s behind it-”

“Red China?” suggested Zarkon. Bond shrugged.

“Or SPECTRE,” he said.

Then, with an inquiring glance at Zarkon`s expressionless profile, he asked:
“I`m not exactly up on all your cases, Prince. Ever gone up against SPECTRE?”

“Not to my knowledge,” admitted Zarkon quietly. “Or, at least, not yet.”

Bond chuckled.

“That`s rather lucky for SPECTRE,” he said. Then, pulling up with a flourish.

“Here we are at the Yard, sir. Good hunting!”

“Good hunting yourself,” smiled Zarkon.

Holmes Meets 007

The wind was up in Holmes, make no doubt of that. He stood now with his back to me, gazing down into Baker Street. The great detective had been pacing the room for a quarter hour. Now he turned from the window with an exclamation.

“Ha! Exactly as I anticipated.” The aquiline features, so recently strained, were suddenly animated. “Quick, Watson. Our visitors have arrived. Help me get my things while Mrs Hudson is showing them up.”

“Odd carriage that,” I muttered, glancing through the pane as I picked up Holmes` violin from the window seat.

“Come, come, Watson. A carriage? That`s a Bentley, surely. Sawed, chopped, channelled and fitted with a Sardley overhead cutout, unless I miss my guess. I`ve done a little monograph on the Sardley, as a matter of fact.”

“And you have no idea why they want to see us? I asked Holmes.

“Only vaguely,” he replied. “But the real truth is that it is I who want to see them. Particularly one of them.”

While saying this he had clapped his fez on his head. Now, jamming a meerschaum between his teeth and dropping into the big leather chair, Holmes began sawing at his fiddle. His playing always has the same effect on me and so I was as edgy as he had been by the time a knock sounded at our door.

I opened it to face a square, craggy figure of commanding presence. He was perhaps 60 and his hands were thrust into the pockets of a kind of officer`s coat. He pierced me with a flinty glance and, without removing the briar from his mouth, stalked past me into the room.

Behind him a younger man, dark and athletic and done out in flannel of impeccable Savile Row cut, moved with cat`s stealth through the doorway. Behind me Holmes crashed into the coda of one of his beloved concerti. I nodded to the hovering Mrs Hudson to let her know the pair was expected and closed the door.

“Dr Watson, I believe,” said the older of the two, eyeing me and then turning to Holmes who, taking no notice of their arrival, continued his fiddling. “Call me M. This is Mr James Bond and –. I say, can`t you get him to stop that? he asked, waving his pipe in Holmes` direction.

“This won`t do, M,” I heard Bond say in an undertone. “We knew the man was an addict, but a musician too? And look at those clothes. Can this be Holmes?”

Just at that moment my friend laid down his violin, took the pipe from his mouth and cooly rose to greet the visitors.

“Good evening, gentlemen. Sorry you had trouble with the Bentley. Those Sardley devices can be difficult. Actually, of course, there`s a garage just down from where you stalled that specializes in them.” Holmes` little gambit had its intended effect.

“How the devil did you know that?” exclaimed Bond.

“Elementary, my dear naught naught seven,” purred Holmes. “You are late for an appointment that you yourself described as of `supreme importance.” Conclusion? The delay was unavoidable. There`s a smudge of oil on your sleeve, which tells me you`ve been under the bonnet, and I noticed your Sardley was wheezing when you drove up. The spot of earth on your shoe is of a texture peculiar to a stretch of Bromley Road where I noticed yesterday that the gas company was excavating.”

“Damnably clever,” nodded M. “Bond, why don`t you do things like that? Save yourself some of that wear and tear, hmm?”

Holmes allowed himself a small condescending smile while Bond`s face closed again into the impassive mask which I took to be habitual with him.

“Yes, nice trick,” he sniffed. “Somewhat circusy, but neat. Would it have the desired effect on a SMERSH man, though? A touch of the steel, a taste of the Walther, a karate chop. Those are more likely to impress the blighters.”

“I dare say you`re right,” M sighed. “Still it would be pleasant if the office could conduct some of its business on a somewhat quieter, more civilized plane.”

I drew up chairs and was just seating our guests when I felt Bond`s eyes on me. I turned to him questioningly, but he only shook his head in mild irritation — but not before exchanging glances with M. I felt, for some reason, a certain trepidation.

“Watson, why don`t you ask Mrs Hudson to set out tea,” said Holmes.

M raised his hand in protest. “Please. James has already seen to our refreshment. He`s having something sent `round from the club. Should be here directly, wouldn`t you say, James?”

“If Alex can manage the souffle in this cold,” Bond replied. “Can`t rush those things. Then there`s the Vouvray Mousseux to be brought to the proper chill, and –”

“Took James half an hour to order the stuff,” said M, his tone a mixture of pique and grudging admiration. “He does things like that, you know.”

“Curious obsession,” mused Holmes, to whom the food was inconsequent.

Bond stiffened. “it`s not an obsession. It`s simply an amenity. I prefer to dine well, just as I prefer to live in Chelsea instead of in a more — um — prosaic neighborhood. Like Baker Street,” he added, unnecessarily, I thought.

“Now, now, gentlemen,” put in M. “We`ll leave all that for another time. Right now, there`s a more pressing — and delicate — matter I`d like to attend to. James, this is your show.”

Bond leaned his cruel face forward and stared balefully at Holmes.

“I`ll be blunt then,” he said. “We know all about your habit.”

“My habit?”

“Your habit. You are a user, a junkie. What is it this week, cocaine or morphine?”

I couldn`t suppress a surge of triumph. For years I had told Holmes that his little peculiarity would some day lead him astray. He caught the look on my face and said wryly: “I`ve never made a secret of my — er — habit as you put it. Indeed even were I so inclined, Watson`s constant scribblings about me would have insured disclosure.”

“Watson, you say?” and Bond gave me another of his cold looks, less guarded than before. “DOCTOR Watson. And I suppose he is also your connection?”

Holmes, who is even less familiar with the changing language of the street than I, showed puzzlement.

“Your connection, your source of narcotics supply,” said M in explanation, his eyes now gleaming behind a wreath of pipe smoke. “Why yes,” answered Holmes, “Watson has been good enough to supply my modest needs for stimulants.”

“There!” cried Bond. “Does that satisfy you, M? We have him. I told you the methods of procural matched out TTD report.” In one fluid movement the Walther PPF appeared in Bond`s hand. But instead of turning the weapon on Holmes, Bond levelled the wicked instrument at my own breasts.

“What is the meaning of this?” I demanded. “I am a medical practitioner and responsible for–”

“Come off that now,” said Bond, his voice like a whip. “It has worked too long. You can`t hide behind Holmes any longer.”

“My dear fellow, what are you trying to say?” asked Holmes with a composure that, considering the situation, irked me considerably. He had picked up his violin again and was idly plucking at the strings.

“What I mean,” said Bond, “is that your good Dr Watson is an imposter. We`ve gotten onto him through his worldwide narcotics contacts. Watson,” and he paused for dramatic effect, “is none other than my old antagonist Ernst Stavro Blofeld, master of disguise, fiend incarnate, slayer of my bride and now delivered into my hands.”

He fingered the safety on the Walther and I recalled suddenly the significance of his naught naught classification: authorized to kill. Bond glanced at M and I saw the old seadog return his look with a barely perceptible nod. It was a nasty situation.

But I reckoned without Holmes. In a flash, he brought his precious Stradivarius down on Bond`s gun hand. Violin and pistol exploded together. However, Holmes had deflected the muzzle sufficiently so that the bullet passed harmlessly through the cloth of my trousers — a bare two inches from the spit in my leg that had received the Jezail bullet in `80.

“Damned musician!” Bond growled gripping his injured hand. Holmes meanwhile had leaped to the side table and extracted something from the drawer.

“Quick, Watson, guard the door.” I landed against the portal one step ahead of M, whose face was now a mirror of hate. Holmes was instantly at my side, a hypodermic syringe in his hand. Tearing back the man`s shirt cuff he plunged the needle into M`s arm. The powerful morphine concentrate worked with appalling suddenness and M slid to the carpet.

“Good lord, Holmes,” I exclaimed. “Why him? Get Bond.”

“Nonsense, Watson, naught naught seven is simply an accessory, a fairly ignorant tool. This is our man on the floor. I recognized him as soon as he stepped out of the Bentley. Now if you`ll ring up Lestrade we`ll write finis to the only uncompleted business remaining on my books.”

“Holmes, you don`t mean…?”

“Precisely, Watson, the greatest schemer of all time, the organizer of every deviltry, the controlling brain of the underworld, a brain which might have made or marred the destiny of nations has been ensconced for these years in Special Branch. Our visitor M is none other than our old enemy Professor Moriarty.”

“Amazing, Holmes. You outdo yourself.”

“Elementary, my dear Watson or Blofeld or whatever. Now I believe I shall repair to the study and work up a little monograph on the subject while it is still fresh in mind — and before you manage to romanticize it quite out of credibility.”

Then I noticed the crestfallen figure standing near the window.

“What should we do with Bond?” I asked.

“Bond? Oh, send him back to his little bureaucratic niche, I expect. Really, I couldn`t be less concerned.”

High Time To Kill

By Raymond Benson

Review by: Ryan Ronholm

Characters:James Bond; Helena Marksbury; Roland Marquis;
Bill Tanner; Dr. Steven Harding; Governor of Bahamas; Dr. Hope Kendell; Lee Ming; Sergeant Chandra; Otto Schrenk; Paul Baack
Le Gerant; Zakir Bedi

Locations covered: Nassau, London (and local areas), Brussels, Delhi, Kathmandu, Morocco, Nepal, Kangchenjunga

James Bond and his seceretary, Helena Marksbury are on vacation in the Bahamas, an idea that James Bond doesn`t agree with. He, of course would rather be in Jamaica at Shamelady (the original name for Goldeneye), and especially away from the house of the former Governor of the Bahamas, the same unnamed man as in Ian Fleming`s short story, `The Quantum of Solace.` The Governor is having a large party. Before it ends though, the Governor is brutally murdered (his throat slashed)
after telling James that he has some how interferred with a criminal group called `The Union`. Bond tracks the killer from the party down into an alley way. Before Bond can capture him, the murderer blows his head off, leaving Bond with no clues.

Fast forward two weeks… James Bond has returned to England and is out golfing with Bill Tanner when he meets up with an old rival from Eton, named Roland Marquis, who with a nerdy and quiet doctor have come out for a round. Marquis and the doctor, Steven Harding, challenge Bond and Tanner to a match, which Bond reluctantly accepts. The four go at it, with Roland and Harding taking 500 pounds of the two service lads. That night, Harding, who is involved with a super top secret project entitled “Skin 17”, highjacks the formula for the skin from it`s base with the help of Roland. The next morning the Secret Service are alerted to the theft and it is decided that the man responsible for finding Dr. Harding and the skin is 007, with whatever help he can get from Roland, who was a special liason in the project.

Bond recieves word that Dr. Harding is in Brussels. After a quick meeting with Major Boothroyd, he gets his Jaguar XK8 and heads out. After a pleasent drive, only miles from Brussles, Bond runs into three motorcyclists who are bent on stopping him. While Bond disposes of them quickly, using many of the toys installedvia Q Branch, he is still worried that there may be a huge leak within the secret service.

While Bond`s arrival is taking place, we find out that Dr. Harding is a member of The Union and he was paid to steal the formula and devised a plot to get the micro-dot which contains all of the final information to The Union`s seller, the Chinese via a pacemaker. During Bond`s stay in Brussels, he gets slightly involved with the leader of Station B, gets into a fight with a massive ape of a man, meets the doctor who was blackmailed into performing the pacemaker surgery, and finds out that the man was killed outside of the jail. While all of this is happening, the man with the pacemaker, Mr. Lee Ming, is on a plane to Delhi, and Dr. Harding is escaping to Morocco

Bond, with the mission seemingly stalled, heads home to find that someone recognized Lee Ming as a passenger on a flight to Delhi. Ming manages to get into Nepal, only to then be kidnapped . He`s put on a highjacked sightseeing plane, which ends up crashing into the Kangchenjunga, the third largest mountain in the world. Hearing this seemingly good piece of news, “M” plans a massive recovery mission, under the guise of a diplomatic recovery of British and American politicans. Bond is to be teamed with a man who knows the Kangchenjunga, Chandra.

After weeks of climatizing, and people trying to kill Bond and sabotage the mission, they make it to the plane, where everything gets completely out of control. More people die, numerous double and triple crossers are revealed, the micro-dot is recovered and Bond makes it down the mountain.

While the novel is very well done, it doesn`t “digest” the same way that Benson`s two previous novels do. This novel is simply not as strong of a novel as Benson`s two previous forays, It especially pales to “The Facts of Death” and this is due, in part, to the lack of real danger involved. Bond is forced to recover a material that can be used on planes and missles to exceed speeds of Mach 7 but this hardly has immediate dire implications.

In a sense, the novel is slighty more than an updated and revised version of the movie: For Your Eyes Only. Something important goes missing in enemy territory and Bond is forced to go up against someone who the British government trust, but one that he doesn`t. The school rivalry is something that is quite important and interesting. It goes slightly into the past of 007, unlike anything else has before. The locales selected in the novel are very important as well and the way that Benson describes the cities, most noticeably Delhi, Kathmandu and Casablanca are true throwbacks to the writing of Ian Fleming. The people on the streets and the sounds, and even the religious beliefs and the way that they are used in the novel (Like Bond entering the church or mosque after the assassination of Zakir Bedi) add depth to this novel.

Benson`s leading women aren’t too great. His supporting women are though. Reading the parts with Helena Marksbury, and the Station B liason, Gina, have more life and zip to them than the scenes with Dr. Hope Kendell. His supporting men are much better than his women. Paul Baack, Otto Schrenk, Chandra, and Zakir Bedi are well written, and are strong additions to the novel. The time, climate and weather elements are very important to the novel and Benson pulls these off wonderfully.

The creation of “The Union”, Benson`s own “SPECTRE-esque” criminal group seems to have basically lifted itself from Fleming`s classic `Thunderball.` While “The Union” is more realistic and more PC (you have three women now), it isn`t that different from what are the classics. But if you are going to emulate, you might as well emulate the best. While shrouding the leader is something out of the movie series, the idea that the man is blind is quite unique and may easily set up for some interesting novels in the future.

Another thing that Benson likes to do is set the novels up for Generation X who was brought up on the Bond movies of Roger Moore. There is always a “pre-title sequence” that involves humor, destruction and nothing that can connect with any of Bond`s previous adventures. Personally, I would axe them from the novel, or make them more connected to it, like the opening chapters of Dr. No and OHMSS. Fleming rarely had an off the wall chapter (like HTTK does), nor did Gardner (who`s first chapters were usually the best and most complete.). However, if Benson`s next novel, expected to be set in Gibralter with another Union agent builds on the impressive start found here, these novels may lead to many fun adventures with 007. Let`s see in one year`s time.


The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Pussy Galore; The Villain: Auric Goldfinger; Supporting Characters: Oddjob, Colonel Smithers, Jill Masterson, Tilly Masterson, Felix Leiter; Locations Covered: London, Miami, New York, Switzerland, Fort Knox; First Published: 1958

Goldfinger is one of the strongest Bond novels when it comes to plot. The basic parts of Goldfinger are set up well. The Bank of England is worried about leaks in the Gold area. They look for an answer, and find Auric Goldfinger. A member of SMERSH, from Riga, Latvia Goldfinger is a jeweler who collects old gold and melts it down for his own purposes, his fascination with gold, and its color. He is one of the world’s wealthiest men, and is almost as nuts as he is rich. His only major vice is that his assistants all end up painted in gold.

The novel starts in Miami, as Bond is ready to head back to London. He is met by an old accquentance, Junius Du Pont(From Casino Royale) who is being cheated at Canasta. The cheater? Auric Goldfinger. Goldfinger has taken $10 000 from the wealthy Du Pont.

Bond tricks Goldfinger into surrendering fifty thousand dollars to Du Pont and leaves Miami with Jill Masterton, one of Auric`s kept women. He returns to England to find that MI6 wants an eye kept on Goldfinger. The man to do it? James Bond.

Immediately following that, Bond and Goldfinger meet in a golf match, where 007 again cheats Goldfinger at his own game. Goldfinger, being a good sport, invites Bond to dinner. There, Bond is treated to a spectacular demonstration from Goldfinger’s henchmen, known as Oddjob! His abilities shown on a railing, mantle piece and wall can be summed up like this:

‘Oddjob had taken off his coat and placed them neatly on the floor. Now, he rolled up his trouser legs up to the knee and stood back in a wide-planted stance as if a judo expert. He looked as if a charging elephant wouldn’t put him off balance.

“Better stand back, Mr. Bond. This blow snaps a man’s neck like a daffodil.” Bond watched, facinated. Now the slanting eyes in the flat yellow mask were glinting with a fierce intentness. Faced by such a man, one could only go down on one’s knees and wait for death.’

Here Fleming shows Bond’s fear, Goldfinger’s delight and Oddjob’s abilities. All of the Bond Elements are here in full glory. The meeting with M, Colonel Smithers, the Vodka Martinis, Morland Special Cigarettes, and the Aston Martin DB3(This is the first time that Bond doesn`t use his Bentley). Another Bond Element is that he is fighting, either a Russian man, or a SMERSH operative. This is slightly trite, even back then. The scenes between Goldfinger and Bond are very strong. The torture scene isn’t with a laser, but with a saw.

Pussy Galore is the only hood who you can like, mainly because her lesbian undertones are extremely amusing as we all know that Bond is going to get the girl. The plot is the most outrageous one that Ian Fleming ever created but that`s what makes it entertaining!

From Russia, With Love

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Tatiana Romanova; The Villain: Red Grant; Supporting Characters: Darko Kerim, Rene Mathis, Rosa Klebb; Locations Covered: London, Turkey, Moscow, The Orient Express; First Publishing: 1956

EVERYONE says that this is Fleming’s best Bond story. Even JFK said that before his assassination. But I do not agree. Fleming still had Dr. No, Goldfinger, Thunderball OHMSS and You Only Live Twice to go and all are worthy to surpass `Russia`. Granted, From Russia With Love is an extremely good Bond story. It’s story is a bit off of it’s rails at times, but that is made up easily by the rich characterizations.

One of From Russia With Love’s best character’s is the sadistic executioner, Red Grant. He is a calm and cool killer, almost exactly as Fleming had envisioned Bond in Casino Royale. He is more convincing than most characters in this story, save for Darko Kerim.

Darko Kerim is probably one of the most lovable characters to ever meet 007. It almost hurts when Darko is found killed. I really enjoyed his character who was full of life and a man who I sort of wished that 007 was. Darko’s life story early on when Bond arrives in Turkey is very entertaining. Kerim’s character is sorely missed.

The plot for `Russia` couldn’t be any more straight forward. Dr. No and Moonraker had almost impossible plots for most of the novel but `Russia` doesn’t stick to that pattern. It is a pleasure to read the planning of 007’s demise.

One weak spot for me was Rosa Klebb, the leader of SMERSH. She didn’t seem to be the major villain that she was written to be. Also, in Doctor No, it would have been great to see how she dies. Unfortunately, I was disappointed that Fleming didn’t elaborate. He just says that she died in British, or French hands. I hope that she died a painful death, maybe like hanging her at the stake for being an opponent of the United Kingdom and killed publicly or something.

The trip through Turkey was surprisingly interesting. I was impressed with Fleming’s knowledge of the foreign world that Bond was thrust into. What was also surprising was the fact that I really wanted Bond to get the Spektor cipher decoder. It was kind of a slap in the face to the Russians.

Tania is really the picture perfect Bond Girl. She knows when to run, let herself be over come by Bond’s charms and is the perfect lure for 007. Her role in the story is unconvincing. Unfortunately, she has to be there, because without, her, this novel would be a complete and utter mess! If Fleming would have devised a set up where 002 or someone had gotten the decoder to Kerim, and Bond was to retrieve it, and leave out the girl as most short stories do, From Russia With Love would be a rousing smash.

But it isn’t because too many things I find drag it down. Tania’s non-apparent brain, the well written, yet out of place gypsy scene and the fact that the Russians want 007 dead is just to confusing for me, and left me saying, huh? I was also missing Rene Mathis who shows up for less than the last ten or so pages. He was one of my favorite characters from Casino Royale, along with Felix Leiter, and he shouldn’t have shown up at all. Rather disappointing!

Now, there are some great parts of this novel. The real highlight of the novel is when Bond gets on the Orient Express. We can tell that he is in danger, but we don’t know what is going to happen, but we do know that something is going to happen and it does. The book should come with a musical score. We would be instructed to get to a certain track. The track would be strings, raising slowly in pitch until, the climax with Grant in the tunnel.

What surprised me was that Bond didn’t notice that Grant slipped a drug into Tania’s drink. Oh well, who cares. She didn’t mean a thing to me, and Grant should have slipped her some cyanide instead. I probably would have burst out laughing. All of the Bond Elements are here in full glory. Anyways, From Russia With Love was not all that I expected. Hearing and reading that it was the best got me to read it, but I was rather disappointed.

For Your Eyes Only

For Your Eyes Only was first published as a collective book of short stories in 1960. The short story `Quantum of Solace` was first published in Cosmopolitan, while The Hildebrand Rarity was first published in Playboy. Because the review for The Hildrebrand Rarity is so in depth it, along with Risico, has been put on a second page accessible from the bottom of this one.

From A View To A Kill

The Characters: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Mary Anne Russell; Supporting Characters: Colonel Schreiber, Commander Rattray; Location covered: Paris, France.

From A View To A Kill is a fair to middling story by Ian Fleming. It`s not really spectacular, though not particularly boring either. At the outset, a motorcycle courier on one of the backroads around Paris, is en route to deliver classified documents to the NATO organization SHAPE, when his motorcycle is overtaken by another. The courier is murdered on a lonely stretch of highway, and his documentation stolen. Of course this alerts most of the security bureaus in Europe, and since 007 is already in Paris, “M” has obligated Bond to assist in anyway possible in the investigation.

What really stands out in From A View To A Kill is Bond`s view on the French. Or rather, Ian Fleming`s. Example:

“Since 1945, he had not had a happy day in Paris….It was its heart that was gone-pawned to the tourists, pawned to the Russians and Rumanians and Bulgars, pawned to the scum of the world who had gradually taken the town over.”

While waiting on his liason in Paris to introduce herself, 007 continues to think to himself about Paris and fantasize abou t what this girl might look like:

“Even supposing he found the girl in the next hour or so, the contents would certainly not stand up to the wrapping. On closer examination she would turn out to have the heavy , dank, wide-pored skin of the bourgeois French. The blond hair under the rakish velvet beret would be brown at the roots and as coarse as piano wire. The peppermint on the breath would not conceal the midday garlic. The alluring figure would be intricately scaffolded with wire and rubber.

The plot, as briefly mentioned already, isn`t all that exciting . But Bond does some nifty investigative work to solve the crime, when other intelligence departments had given up hope on solving the case.

For Your Eyes Only

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Judy Havelock; Von Hammerstein; Gonzalez; Colonel Havelock; Mrs. Havelock, Agatha; Locations covered: Jamaica, Vermont

For Your Eyes Only could also be titled “M”`s revenge. In this story, “M” gets Bond to do a personal favor for him, and wipe out the men who killed two good friends of his, The Havelocks.

The story begins set against the backdrop of political turmoil in the Caribbean, namely the problems caused by the future dictator of Cuba, Fidel Castro. At this point in time, Cuba is rife with ex-Nazi`s and ex-Gestapo agents, who have been doing the bidding of Presidente Batista. One such man is called von Hammerstein, and Hammerstein soon sees the writing on the wall and realizes when Castro gains power over Batista, Hammerstein`s days in Cuba are over. So he sends out a few of his goons to start procuring property around the Caribbean and to start investing his money. One such investment he wants made is a nice house in Jamaica called Content. The only problem is that it`s already owned and the owners refuse to sell. So Gonzales, entrusted to do whatever neccessary to get the property for his boss Hammerstein, guns down the Colonel and his wife in cold blood, leaving the bodies for the Havelocks grown daughter Judy to find.

A month later, Bond is called into M`s office and M explains that he knew the Havelocks, and has determined who their killer was and where he currently is at. Since national security is not at stake, M is troubled by what to do next and Bond senses that.

“Now Bond realized why M was troubled, why he wanted someone else to make the decision. Because these had been friends of M. Because a personal element was involved, M had worked on the case by himself. And now it had come to the point when justice ought to be done and these people brought to the book. But M was thinking, Is this justice, or is it revenge? No judge would take a murder case in which he had personally known the murdered person. M wanted someone else, Bond, to deliver judgement. There were no doubts in Bond`s mind….Hammerstein had operated the law of the jungle on two old defenseless people. Since no other law was available, the law of the jungle should be visited upon Hammerstein.

Bond said, “I would`nt hesitate for a minute, sir…This is a case for rough justice-an eye for an eye.”

M went on looking at Bond. He gave no encouragement, made no comment. Then he slowly reached for the top drawer of his desk on the left hand side, pulled it open, and extracted a thin file…He turned the docket around and pushed it gently across the desk to Bond. The red sans serif letters, still damp, said: FOR YOUR EYES ONLY. Bond said nothing. He nodded and picked up the docket and walked out of the room.

Fleming does a brilliant job of detailing the relationship between Bond and M. The relationship is so well understood between the two, that sometimes words aren`t needed. So, Bond is off to Vermont, via Montreal, Canada, where his papers are rearranged and he picks up a hunting license. Bond`s mission is to penetrate deep into the wooded retreat of von Hammerstein and assasinate him. But Bond isn`t alone on his mission.

In Vermont, as he is slowing and methodically doing surveillance on Hammerstein`s estate, he runs into a beautiful young woman with a crossbow. At first he believes her just to be a deer hunter, but after looking at the name on the hunting license she produces, he realizes who she is and why she`s in Vermont. It`s Judy Havelock and she`s out for revenge. And she`s not going to let Bond get in her way. Even if it means putting an arrow through his leg.

“This is man`s work.”

The girl`s eyes blazed obstinately. She moved her right foot back into the shooting stance. She said through compressed, angry lips, “Keep out of this. It was my mother and father they killed. Not yours.” She pulled the bow half taut. The arrow pointing at Bond`s feet. “Either you do what I say, or you`re going to be sorry. And don`t think I don`t mean it.”

Reluctantly, Bond is forced to join sides with her, and has to wait for Judy to make her move before he can make his. They both succeed in eliminating the wretched von Hammerstein, Gonzales, and a couple of thugs. But Fleming doesn`t leave things at that. He`s not satisfied with good triumphing over evil. Instead, he makes both Bond and Judy suffer through some mental anguish over their actions, despite the fact that they were both justified in what they did. This anguishing gives the characters a human edge and an extra layer of complexity. On the flight from London to Montreal, Bond thinks to himself about how he dreads killing a man in cold blood, even if he did deserve it. Once on the ground, 007 almost seems to try and drink his anguish away, by carrying a flask containing 3/4ths whiskey and one part coffee. Even after Judy killed von Hammerstein, she felt no relief.

“I didn`t- I didn`t know it would be like that”.

Bond pressed her arm reassuringly, “It had to be done. But I told you this sort of thing was man`s work”.

Yes, For Your Eyes Only is one of Flemings best. It combines several different elements to form one powerful story: M`s indecision, 007`s determination for justice, Judy`s thirst for revenge, Bond`s male chauvinism, the bitter after-taste of justice, and the anguish that comes with it. Even today, with For Your Eyes Only closing in on 40 years old, it`s still as potent and powerful as ever.

Quantum of Solace

The Characters: James Bond; Phillip Masters, Rhoda Masters, The Governor

This is primarily a tale of marital problems and how they impact a mission Bond is about to undertake. 007 has come down to Nassau to undertake a very clandestine mission (is their any other kind?). The Governor of Nassau is having a dinner party the night before 007`s mission. Officially, the Governor has no knowledge of why Bond is in Nassau. Unofficially, he knows exactly why Bond is there. But they are not able to speak about 007`s mission in public, so there begins to grow a dullness and a growing sense of boredom in their conversation. Neither one is particulary interested in talking with the other one, until the Governor relates an old tale of a man he once knew, and how his wife had treated him miserably.

This isn`t an incredilby long story. Only about 25 to 30 pages. But it is an engrossing one. I kept wondering exactly what the catch, or point of the story was going to be. It`s actually anti-climactic for Bond in a way, because he realizes that the tale of marital abuse he`s just been told was far more fascinating than his life of fighting injustice. Fleming ends the story like this:

“He (Bond) reflected on the conference he would be having in the morning with the Coast Guard and the FBI in Miami. The prospect, which had previously interested , even excited him, was now edged with boredom and futility.”


The Hero: James Bond; The Villain: Kristatos; The Bond Girl: Lisl Baum; Supporting Characters: “M”, Columbo; Locations Covered: Italy, Albania

Risico starts off with Bond on the trail of heroin being smuggled into England. His investigation has taken him to Italy, and put him square into the lap of an informant called Kristatos. Viewers of the 007 movie “For Your Eyes Only” will be able to guess just about everything that happens in this story, because the movie adaption was surprisingly faithful to the story. Read no further if you haven`t yet seen the film.

Bond eventually gets embroiled in a vendetta between old enemies, one of whom is trying to frame the other for crimes he did not commit. Getting a British agent to do his dirty work would just be the icing on the cake. Risico is a nice litte short story, with twists, turns(provided you haven`t seen “For Your Eyes Only”), and some suspense. But there`s not a lot of real character development, nor strong dialogue to be taken from the story.

The Hildebrand Rarity

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Liz Krest; The Villain: Milton Krest; Supporting Character(s): Fidele Barbery; Location Covered: Seychelle Islands

The Hildebrand Rarity ranks as one of Ian Fleming`s best works. It`s another tale of domestic abuse and less a true espionage adventure, with 007 being caught in the middle of taking action and staying silent towards the beatings of a long suffering wife named Liz Krest, at the hands of her husband, Milton Krest.

While on a vacation of sorts in The Seychelle Islands, 007 finds himself caught up on a 5 day expedition on board The Wavekrest to find a rarely seen type of fish. A pink and black deadly spined fish called the Hildebrand Rarity, named after the only man who has ever seen one, and because of the rareness of the fish.

Milton Krest is an offensive lout of a man. Rude, arrogant, and obnoxious…he believes anything and everyone comes with a price. He has an opinion, and isn`t afraid to inflict it upon anyone.

“You English make the best butlers and valets in the world. Civil servant you say? I reckon we`re likely to get along fine. Civil servants are just what I like to have around me.”

Milton Krest likes to call his much younger 5th wife “treasure”, though he hardly treats her as such. When she enters the cabin where Krest has introduced himself to Bond and Fidele with little on but a string bikini, Milton wastes no time in laying all the cards out on the table.

“Fellers, this is Mrs. Krest. The fifth Mrs.Krest. And just in case anybody should get any ideas, she loves Mr. Krest. Don`t you, treasure?”

Milton likes to dominate the conversation at all times. Offending people is one way of keeping them off balance, and making sure they have little to say. Milt`s mistaken Bond`s English civility for weakness, and pushes him just a little too far.

“Well, Jim, what say you practice a bit of that civility and servitude on Mrs. Krest. Call her Liz, by the way. Help her fix the canapes and so on for drinks before lunch. She was once a Limey too. You can both swap yarns about Piccadilly Circus and the Dooks you both know. Okay? Move, Fido.”

Liz has had the unfortunate task of apologizing for Milton`s rude behaviour all of her marriage to him. And this time is no different. As soon as she and Bond are alone, she quickly makes amends for Milton.

“Please don`t mind his jokes. It`s just his sense of humor. And he`s a bit contrary. He likes to see if he can rile people. It`s very naughty of him. But it`s really all in fun.”

Bond can tell from Liz`s behavior, body language and tone of voice, that she`s a bit tired of it all, and possibly a little fearful of Krest. Why? Bond finds out later. Krest doesn`t merely insult Bond`s nationality. He insult`s his own wife as well.

“Well, feller. Taking it easy? What have you done with that woman I live with? Left her to do all the work, I guess. Well, and why not? That`s what they`re for, ain`t it?”

Little things tick Krest off. At one point Bond refers to the Wavekrest as “she”, which is common maritime practice. Krest vehemently objects to naming a “hunk of steel and wood a female”.

Bond continues taking a tour of the ship with Milton, when they enter into Milton`s stateroom.

“Bond was looking at something that hung down almost out of sight by the bedside table on what was obviously Mr. Krest`s side of the huge double bed. It was a thin whip about three feet long with a leather thronged handle. It was the tail of the sting ray. He ran a finger down it`s spiny gristle. It hurt his finger even to do that. He said “Where did you pick that up? I was hunting one of these animals this morning.”

“Bahrein. The Arabs use them on their wives.” Mr Krest chuckled easily. “Haven`t had to use more than one stroke at a time on Liz so far. Wonderful results. We call it my `Corrector`.

Bond put the thing back. He looked hard at Mr. Krest and said, “Is that so?”

Later on, over lunch, Krest begins explaining to Bond and Fidele how he was able to write off this multi- million dollar ship as a tax deduction and charge it to the Smithsonian Institute. Liz lets slip a little bit of extra information that she probably should`nt have and Krest goes berserk.

“Treasure, just supposin you keep that flippin` trap shut about my personal affairs. Yes? You know what you just done, treas? You just earned yourself a little meeting with the Corrector this evening. That`s what you`ve gone and done.”

The girl`s hand flew to her mouth. Her eyes were wide. She said in a whisper, “Oh no, Milt. On no, please.”

Bond obviously knew what this date with the Corrector would entail. Later that evening, in his own private thoughts, he debated whether to step in and try and put a stop to Krest`s abuse toward Liz.

Did`nt she realize that a jury would acquit her if the sting ray whip was produced in court? Should Bond tell her that? Don`t be ridiculous! How would he put it? “Oh, Liz, if you want to murder your husband, it`ll be quite all right”. Bond smiled inside his mask. Don`t interfere with other people`s lives. She probably likes it-masochist. But Bond knew that that was too easy an answer. This was a girl who lived in fear.

The days pass on, the rare fish is caught and instead of really truly celebrating, Krest continues to bear down on his guests with rudeness and insults. Now he`s directed his obnoxious behavior toward Fidele Barbery, a local of the Seychelle Islands.

“These islands of yours Fido. When I first looked them up on the map I thought it was just some specks of fly dirt on the page. Even tried to brush them off with the back of my hand. Not much good for anything , are they, Fido? I wonder why an intelligent guy like you doesn`t get out of there? Beachcombing ain`t any kind of life. Though I did hear one of your family had logged over a hundred illegitimate children. Mebbe that`s the attraction, eh, feller?” Mr Krest grinned knowingly.

At this point, Bond has had enough of Krest`s rudeness. He gets up and leaves for the fresh air of the open deck. Liz follows, and Krest accuses Liz of “necking with the underwater help” and takes her downstairs to be punished. It`s now late, and everyone has gone to bed, except Krest, who has gone up on deck to sleep in his hammock. Bond`s sleep is disturbed by a choking and gurgling sound and rushes over to the hammock where Krest had been lying. Krest is dead. Murdered. Someone shoved the spined fish into Krest`s mouth. The fins became erect, tipped with poison, and pierced through Krest`s cheeks and throat, killing him in about 60 seconds.

Bond realizes that this constitutes murder, but in a bizarre twist, Bond throws Krest`s body over the side and into the ocean , thus making himself an accompolice after the fact. The next morning, Bond watches both Liz and Fidele to see any signs of who might`ve killed Krest. By the end of the story, Fleming allows you to more or less pick who you feel killed Milton. There is no definitive answer, though motive would imply Liz.

This has always been one of my favorite stories. The villian`s evil is palpable. Bond is like most people-caught between doing nothing and sticking his nose into the private affair of two people. Liz Krest is a modern day Nicole Brown Simpson, wanting the trappings of a `fairly tale life` but too afraid to leave her abusive husband. The Hildrebrand Rarity doesn`t break new ground as far as espionage thrillers go. But in peeling back the layers of Bond`s psyche, it can`t be beat.

For Your Eyes Also: John Glen’s Autobiography

I thoroughly enjoyed John Glen’s new autobiography. Glen jumps into the action as fast any Bond thriller on the big screen. His work on eight of the EON Bond flicks takes up the bulk of this fascinating new book.

Within the first few paragraphs the reader is plunged onto the icy mountains of Baffin Island where Glen is preparing second unit duties on his second Bond, 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. The incredible teaser stunt, which most Bond fans are familiar with and which is by many considered the best Bond stunt ever, is explored in depth. Bedding down in the icy cold, John Glen writes of Willy Bogner’s legitimate fear at the deadly stunt but bravery in going when needed in one thrilling take from thousands of feet above icy rocks. I learned plenty here, including Glen’s being at risk of freezing himself into a popsicle on location, more than once! You may never view the opener of TSWLM the same way again.

Things were different in the movie industry in recent years, especially in the area of safety for principal personnel, and Glen explains how he risked physical danger or death quite a number of times on his Bonds, between the late 1960’s and late ‘80s. Even Roger Moore assured his safety on one Octopussy shoot working under a moving train by insisting that Glen accompany him on the tracks beneath the moving behemoth-his way of ensuring Glen himself felt the stunt was truly a safe one!

The chapter describing second unit work for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is impressive and a treat for OHMSS fans overall, including yet one more perspective on how George Lazenby must have felt trying to fill Scotland’s largest shoes. Glen apparently was as much a hero of the film as lead director Peter Hunt, and his was much of the creative genius behind the bobsled fight and ski sequences. DVD fans may seem some of the same extra material covered again in Glen’s book, especially the information on License To Kill, but For My Eyes Only is overall a gritty triumph about a hardworking man who waited 30 years to break into lead directing with For Your Eyes Only.

A sad footnote is that Glen’s LTK tested higher than any previous Bond film with test audiences, but was demolished between Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade and Batman, to name just two 1989 summer blockbusters. Underscored throughout the book is the essential nature of the director to any Bond film, from Terence Young and Dr. No to Michael Apted and The World Is Not Enough, the director gets huge leeway regarding casting, script development, exotic locations and stunt choices, to name a few.

Glen’s view from the top explores in some detail how Cubby and Barbara Broccoli, Michael Wilson and the screenwriters thought, plotted and risked hunches and millions on the casting and scripting of the greatest film series in history. Lacking is any moving in-depth background on Glen himself, however. Two marriages are treated almost as footnotes in the book. Glen eventually brought his wife on location with him, but apparently spent nearly five decades “late at the office”.

The book and jacket design lean heavily on the James Bond image and EON 007 logo. I found it bizarre that the designer did not clean up the famous image cropped in close up of George Lazenby in front of “Big Ben,” for example, but left “overhangs” atop of the heads of both Lazenby and Dalton on the front cover. My copy also had ink dropped out on certain pages, lightening some of the photo captions almost beyond recognition. The jacket and book design are still pleasing to the eye, however. This book was certainly aimed at the interested 007 fan. Many pleasant stills are included of action, cast and crew. Some never-before seen photos are included among them. Further insights are also given into Cubby Broccoli’s generosity and a humorous foreword is included by Roger Moore, CBE.

–For My Eyes Only is published in hardback and is available now from various sources including Dave Worral’s Collectors’ Club.

For Special Services

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Cedar Leiter; The Villain: Marcus Bismaquer; Supporting Characters: Nina Bismaquer, Mike Hazzard, Luxor; Locations Covered: London, New York, Texas (Amarillo), Colorado (NORAD), Washington D.C.; First Published: 1982

For Special Services is John Gardner`s second Bond effort, and only slightly better than his first one, License Renewed.

It starts off with 007 being sent to investigate possible leads into the re-emergence of SPECTRE. A foiled hijacking provides clues that lead Bond to suspect that SPECTRE is alive,well, and ready to rear it`s ugly, vicious head on the world political scene.

007 is joined by his American counterpart, Cedar Leiter, Felix Leiter`s voluptous daughter, and newly recruited CIA operative. Together, they pose as art afficianodoes to sniff out MI6`s chief suspect in the hijacking, Markus Bismaquer.

Many clues lead to Markus Bismaquer as possibly being the new head of SPECTRE, so Bond and Cedar head to New York to act as bait and see whether Markus goes for it. And he does. Bond and Leiter are barely in New York five minutes before they get into a fist/knife fight with some goons sent by Markus. Later, in Washington D.C., Bond and Cedar are trapped in a crashing, careening elevator.

The rest of the story is simple, formulaic, and sometimes boring. There`s the requisite girls that throw themselves at Bond(including Felix`s daughter) and the huge, spacial headquarters/mansino of the main villian. Gardner even throws in a completely pointless action sequence involving a race track derby.

Gardner does throw in a few twists though. Nena, Markus`s wife, only has one breast. Bond, apparently so desperate for sex, and weary of having to turn down Cedar`s propositions, goes for it. Nena has needs herself, since her husband is her husband in name only (he`s got the hots for 007- you figure the rest).

The rest of the story is fairly rote. There seems to be little investigating done by 007 in this novel. It`s mostly a collection of fight scenes and it is indeed action packed. But i`d rather see a novel that takes it`s time to develop it`s characters, flesh out it`s plot, and give us rich detail about the locations. For Special Services, is…well, nothing special.


In 1941 Ian Fleming accompanied Admiral Godfrey to the United States for the purpose of establishing relations with the American Secret Service organizations. In New York Fleming met Sir William Stephenson, “the quiet Canadian”, who became a lifelong friend. Stephenson allowed Fleming to take part in a clandestine operation against a Japanese cipher expert who had an office in Rockefeller Center. Fleming later embellished this story and used it in his first James Bond novel, Casino Royale (1953).

Stephenson also introduced Fleming to General William Donovan, who had just been appointed coordinator of information, a post which eventually evolved into the chairmanship of the Office Of Strategic Services and then of the Central Intelligence Agency. At Donovan`s request Fleming wrote a lengthy memorandum describing the structure and functions of a secret service organization. This memorandum later became part of the charter of the OSS and, thus, of the CIA. In appreciation, Donovan presented Fleming with a .38 Police Positive Colt revolver inscribed “For Special Services”.–Joan DelFattore, University of Delaware.

Dr. No

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Honey Ryder; The Villain: Dr. Julius No; Supporting Characters: Quarrel, Mary Trueblood; John Strangways; First Published: 1957

After the shocking end of From Russia With Love, Doctor No starts off with Commander John Strangways at the Queens Club in Kingston, Jamaica. He leaves every night at 6:00 p.m. to receive a call from London. While on his way out of the Queen’s Club, he is killed by three Chinese/ Jamaicans.(Fleming, writing in the fifties, was able to use his language,which is amazingly inappropriate today.) The killers go to the Secret Service HQ and kill Trueblood as London begins primary transmissions.

M doesn’t know what to do. CIA has already had someone down there, and nothing has been found. He finds out about Bond’s health and decides that he is the best candidate for the job of locating Strangways and his Secretary. But first, Bond must change weapons from his Beretta .25 to a Walther PPK. He resents that M figures that he must change weapons because 007 was almost killed at the hands of Rosa Klebb.

Bond is sent out and immediately enlists the help of Quarrel, an old pal from Live And Let Die. He soon finds out that his adversary in this case is more dangerous than he thinks. He receives a basket of fruit from “Government House”. Bond searches the fruit with a jeweler’s eye-piece, and finds that there are tiny pin pricks in crevices. Bond immediately sends it away, to find that it is poisoned with enough cyanide to kill a horse. He next finds that a six inch long centipede is in his bed.

Doctor No is well connected with Secretaries at Government House, and many other agents in the city, as well as a photographer with the Gleaner newspaper, named Miss Taro. The only problem is that Dr. No lives on his own small island, called Crab Key. The island is one of the world’s biggest guano producers in the world. He shares the island with a Bird Sanctuary organization.

The Bird organization wants Dr. No to stop selling the guano and let his island be taken over by tourists who want to see the birds. Doctor No will not have any of that and he kills two high ranking members in a plane crash. He also kills the birds with a marsh hopper and buys the island outright. 007 decides the only way to show Dr. No that he will not be taken lightly, Bond and Quarrel sneak aboard the island.

The following is the most exciting and interesting part of Doctor No. Bond and Honey Rider, the main Bond girl, who he found on Dr. No’s beach. Bond is fascinated with Dr.No’s magnificent aquarium, which costs $1 million. Following that, and dinner, Dr. No tells Bond and Honey Rider, his life story. Doctor No’s story is extremely detailed and realistic. But, all of the villain’s fatal flaws is telling Bond that he is going to shoot down U.S. space launches.

After Dr. No’s story, he decides that Bond should be put to the test. A test to see how long it would take for him to die. A well written gauntlet of terror for Bond and the reader, expecting Bond to perish at any moment. He doesn’t and kills Dr. No with dumping a pile of guano on to his head! The rest is pretty lame after the coup de grace of Doctor No.

Diamonds Are Forever

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Tiffany Case; The Villain: Jack Spang; Supporting Characters: Shady Tree, Moneypenny, “M”, Felix Leiter, Ernie Cureo, Bill Tanner, Commissioner Vallance; Locations Covered: London, Dakar, New York, Las Vegas; First Published: 1956

Diamonds Are Forever is Ian Fleming`s fourth Bond novel. Following on the heels of the excellent thrillers Casino Royale, Live And Let Die, and Moonraker, it was natural for Ian Fleming to be due for a fall. With Diamonds, that fall takes place.

It`s not a bad book. It`s just not particularly great either. It lacks a lot of the elements that made the first three novels so interesting. First, it lacks any real atmosphere. There seems to be no, for lack of a better word, aura, or feel that you get from the novel. Also, there was a lack of decidedly good villians in this book, and there was`nt much action until about page 142.

Another problem with `Diamonds` is that the plot isn`t really all that engaging. It concerns itself with England losing 2 million pounds per year in smuggled gems, but that`s about it. No other nefarious purposes are used for the diamonds except to get rich.

On the plus side, Tiffany Case makes for a much better Bond girl, than say Solitaire, from Live and Let Die. Tiffany is intregal to the case, and actually shows up quite often in the book. She gets some excellent dialogue and her interplay and relationship with Bond was very convincing. Tiffany led a rough life, being gang raped by hoods when she was 16. Fleming writes Tiffany pretty well. Her tragic past is her confusing present, as she tends to have a drinking problem to hide all her pain. She`s been in with the wrong crowd since the day she was born, and her vulnerability makes her more endearing to 007.

There`s also the duo of Wint and Kidd, two ruthless killers from Detroit hired to do the Spangled gangs dirty work.

The book has some good and funny moments.

Tiffany on where Bond intends to hide the diamonds he`s about to smuggle:
She changed the subject. “Got a wooden leg? False teeth?”
“No. Everything`s real.”
She frowned. “I keep telling them to find me a man with a wooden leg.”

Tiffany on how ruthless this mob is that Bond`s going into deep cover with:

“If I were you, i`d think a long time before joining our little group.Don`t go and get in wrong with the mob. If you`re planning anything cosy you`d better start taking harp lessons.”

Ernie Cureo on Mr. Spang`s wealth:

“That guy`s so loaded, he don`t wear glasses when he drives. Has the windshields of his Cadillacs ground to his prescription.”

The book also has some rich and deep dialogue between Tiffany and Bond. On the subject of marriage:

Bond: “Most marriages don`t add two people together. They subtract one from the other.”
Tiffany: “But it depends what you want it to add up to. Something human or somthing inhuman. You can`t be complete by yourself.”

The plot is slowgoing, and at times confusing. A lot of material is covered on diamonds and gambling procedures. It`s not really spelled out in laymans terms, so it`s hard to follow. At least for me it was.

There is no real action until about page 142, and then it becomes almost nonstop. Bond gets into a carchase, a fist fight, is tortured with football cleats, lights a fire, derails a train, swings over the side of a cruise ship and blows a helicopter out of the sky. The chapter “Night falls in the passion pit” is really when the book begins to hit it`s stride. Unfortunately, that`s about two thirds of the way in. Fleming wrote Tiffany so well, he had me scared that he was going to kill her off by the end of the book. It`s interesting though, in that if you know a little about the book series already, you get the feeling that Tiffany foreshadowed a much greater tragedy to occur in Bond`s life down the road.

Death Is Forever

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Easy St.John; The Villain: The Poison Dwarf; Supporting Characters: Harry Spraker, Monika Haardt, Praxi Simeon (Sulphur), August Wimper (Orphan); Axel Ritter; Locations covered: Frankfurt, Berlin, Paris, Venice, Calais, London; First Published: 1992

The deaths of two members of a spy group called Cabal has sent shockwaves through many of the services. The one that wants to find out the most about is the British Secret Service, MI6. They figure that the only man who can figure out what happened is Captain James Bond.

That is in a nutshell what happens in the opening of Death is Forever, the 1992 James Bond novel from John Gardner, one of the most explosive Bond adventures ever. It is probably one of Gardner`s best.

Anyways, to continue, CIA has also felt the pinch, and has sent over Elizabeth St. John to help 007 where ever she can. The two are assigned to Frankfurt, where the murders occured. In the scene with M, there is a small throw back to The Man With The Golden Gun.

M: “Russians haven`t used the cyanide gun in decades.”

Bond: “Yes, Sir. I distinctly remember one failed attempt.”

Once in Germany, Bond is paired a man named Axel Ritter who is posing as a Cabal agent named Harry Spraker. Bond, Axel and Easy get out of Germany, by train where Weisen has set a team to eliminate the two. Bond foils their plan, kills the two and exposes Axel.

Bond and Easy get to Paris, where they are picked up by a fake team of Cabal agents, pretending to be Praxi and the real Harry. Bond knowing better eludes them for enough time to make a call to Cabal, and get a hold of the two real ones. Bond and Easy are captured, but soon rescued from the fake spies who work for the villian, a former spy himself, Wolfgang Weisen. Weisen is also known by his nickname of The Poison Dwarf.

Bond is introduced to the group, which includes a spy known only as Bruin and the real Harry, nicknamed Tester. But, before he can improve his knowledge about what is going on, 007 runs i nto a small problem. He has to meet Weisen.

He meets Weisen in his home in Paris, but he breaks himself out, with the help of Cabal. When Bond escapes, he knows that Weisen is going to Venice, to finalise the plan that I will spill later. 007 then meets the supposed leak in Cabal, August Wimper, another spy known by the cipher of Orphan. James meets him and is told who is the real leak, Harry Spraker! Bond believes him, and helps him clear his name. But, by doing that, the rest of Cabal is captured by Weisen and the two are forced to break them out.

The two break in, get captured and have to break themselves out. By doing so, though, Bond gets Easy killed, by one of Weisen`s guards. He goes berzerk and kills the two guards as well as Harry, and goes after Weisen. He drugs him, and as they group is getting away, they are ambushed by more of Weisen`s men, who abduct him again, back to the right side, and kill eveyone except Bond and Praxi.

Bond, finally figures out that Weisen has a brilliant plan. He wants to destroy the Eurotunnel between Britain and France, killing political figures that are on the trip. Bond is the only one to stop them, and he is able to stop the train in time, but Weisen is determind to suceed, and he is able to blow up one of the tunnels, and in a fit of greed, Bond is able to electricute the Poison Dwarf.

Well, the novel doesn`t end here, but the very end is too suprising to spoil, but lets just say that the final pages are really close to From Russia With Love.

Amazingly, at least to me, is that John Gardner was really starting to take a hold of the James Bond character and craft it into his own type of character, and began a different take on the character.

Anyways, Death is Forever suprised me in many ways. First off, it has pretty much non-stop action, violence, death, destruction, and sex around every turn. But, who can forget, we are reading John Gardner, so we have the obligatory double crossers, and even a triple crosser. You get ten, fifteen pages of violence, followed up by ten pages of conversation, which will unmask a double, a scene where one of the ladies would like to become Bond`s `entertainment` for the evening, and so on. It is a little redundant, at first.

Luckily, about half way through, all of that stops, and we get down to business, with virtually non-stop action and violence all the way through. The novel is probably the fast moving that I have read from Gardner. It is also one of the best ones that he wrote. Don`t pass this one up, it is one of the best.

The only problem, seems to be those common to Gardner novels, that include too many characters, too many double crosses and triple crosses. Butm these aren`t enough to lower the rating. Grade: A-

Daniel George`s Untitled Parody


Quoting from Andrew Lycett`s book “Ian Fleming: The Man Behind The Mask”, Daniel George, the fiction reader at [Jonathan] Cape [Fleming`s UK publisher], who worked closely with William Plomer in preparing Bond for the reading public, produced the world`s first 007 parody.

This amusing literary morsel had Bond “pitched from Cy Nide`s supercharged, gravity-resisting helicopter: into a herd of elephants, looking for valuable radioactive mud. It is full of schoolboyish humour: “`Well,` he uttered, `I may have bitten the dust but I`m not stick-in-the-mud.` But the flash of his famous wit was too much for him. A dagger of pain transfixed him.” Bond has an exotic maiden called Topazia, whom he calls “My double-breasted dusky beauty”. He remembers that Plomer has warned him not to expect much of the Kikup tribe. Their females, Plomer had said, were unipapillate, steatopygous and retromingent. He has no idea what those words meant, but the development of the story shows them all to be true.

Eventually Bond has to be rescued by “a lank, lean, hard-bitten figure”, who comes crashing through the undergrowth with a profile like an Antonine emperor. “In his long prehensile arms he gathered Bond as tenderly as ever mother gathered babe, and plunged again into the jungle. `Thanks, Ian,` said Bond laconically. `Don`t go too fast for Topazia.” When at length, over their ammoniated stengahs, Bond recounted his adventures, Ian smiled wryly. `It`s no good, I`m afraid,” he said. `Cape`s would never stand for it.`”

Colonel Sun

The Hero: James Bond; The Villain: Colonel Sun Liang-tan; The Bond Girl: Ariadne Alexandrou; Supporting Characters: “M”, Bill Tanner, Niko Litsas, Major Piotr Gordienko, Von Richter, Evgeny Ryumin, DeGraff, Dr. Lohmann, Doni Madan, Luisi Tartini; Locations covered: London, Athens, Vrakonisi Island; First Published: 1968

Four years after the death of Ian Fleming, Kingsley Amis, author of The James Bond Dossier, was asked to try and continue the legacy of 007. Under the penname Robert Markham, Amis produced the unique Bond adventure Colonel Sun.

The story starts off one year after the events chronicled in The Man With the Golden Gun. The Bond we see here has spent his time trying to recover from his earlier adventures, but has the sense that he is slowing down, that he has lost the edge. While playing golf with his good friend Bill Tanner, Bond questions his easy lifestyle. We see a Bond who doubts himself, who doesn`t feel up to the challenge that his 007 status dictates. This is a very different Bond than that of Fleming`s writings. Later on, Bond is tailed by a car on his way to see M. Markham`s Bond shows a dulling of his sixth sense:

“Although he had been under close surveillance for over six weeks, Bond had noticed nothing out of the ordinary. When not on an assignment abroad, a secret agent does not expect to be watched.”

The Bond of Ian Fleming would. Old enemies like SPECTRE and SMERSH never limit themselves to missions abroad, and Bond would have been incredibly alert, no matter where he was.

Bond arrives at Quarterdeck – M`s home – to find M under heavy sedation and held hostage by a nameless group of thugs. Bond is able to escape, though he passes out in the nearby woods due to an injection that the thugs give him. When he comes to, M is missing, M`s staff is murdered, and one of the thugs Bond grappled with has been shot in the face. On his body, Bond finds a subtle clue that points to Athens, Greece. Everyone knows that it`s a trap, a planted clue that is meant to lure 007 to the chase. Bond, however, has no choice but to go.

In Athens, he is picked up by the beautiful Ariadne Alexandrou, whom Bond suspects to be part of the plot. However, her contacts are unfamiliar to her, and she and Bond fight together to escape. It turns out she works for the Soviet Union and reports to Major Gordienko. A Soviet summit conference is coming up, and Gordienko is in charge of security. He is suspicious of Bond`s presence in Greece at the same time as the summit, but both sides figure out that they are working against a common unknown enemy.

The plot becomes even more interesting when Colonel-General Igor of the KGB also finds out that Bond is in Greece. His desire is to forever be remembered as the “man who killed James Bond”. He ends up contributing to the mayhem instead of being able to stop the real foe.

That real foe is Colonel Sun Liang-tan of the People`s Liberation Army of China. He is a master at the arts of torture. His plan is to lure Bond to his hideout on Vrakonisi Island – the same island where the summit meeting is to take place – torture Bond to the point of death purely for his own investigative studies, blow up the meeting, and frame Bond and M, whose bodies would be found amidst the rubble, along with some very incriminating evidence.

Bond ends up playing right into Sun`s hands. Gordienko and his staff are all gunned down, leaving Bond, Ariadne, and Ariadne`s longtime friend Niko Litsas to rescue M. From a gunfight at sea with Sun`s thugs to a boat exchange that causes an innocent man and his son to be ruthlessly murdered, the action in this story is definitely present. In the end, though, Bond and his colleagues are all captured by Sun. It seems as if there is no escape possible for Bond. Markham does a wonderful job of bringing the reader to the last final shreds of dispair; then dumping the most descriptive torture scene I`ve ever read in a Bond story right on top!

The story, overall, is a very well-written and entertaining adventure of espionage; yet throughout the book, I found myself reflecting upon the adventure as more of a Magnum P.I. story rather than a Bond one. Markham is a very detailed and descriptive writer, which unfortunately slows down the plot between the action sequences in a way that no Fleming book ever did. In addition, we never lose sight of the Bond who has doubts about his abilities, a Bond who simply is not in control of his being. With this sense about him, he almost has no choice but to become the pawn in Sun`s game. We know Bond won`t die in the end, but he has no ability whatsoever to save himself. He must rely on a surprisingly secret ally to save the day.

Markham`s Bond doesn`t even have the characteristic Bond-isms about him that Fleming readers have come to expect. Never once does Bond order a martini; in fact, although everybody still seems to know his favorite drink, that drink is whiskey rather than the martini. In addition, Markham presents no Bond gadgets, no technical surprises that typically help the flair and sophistication of a Bond adventure. In the 1993 reprinting of the story, Amis makes note of this side of his Bond in his introductory remarks:

“But the James Bond of Dr. No or Goldfinger would have needed far more in the way of technical expertise than I could supply. . . . No hovercraft, no helicopters, no rockets, and no double portions of Beluga caviare served in candlelit restaurants by white-jacketed waiters. He finds no use for the picklock and baby transmitter and the rest of the gadgets supplied by Q Branch on his departure.”

Thus, what we end up with is a James Bond story that doesn`t at all read like a James Bond story. The story is good, to be sure, but dedicated fans can spot the differences in a second. I have heard that the novel was not well received as a result, though I must confess I wasn`t old enough to have been concerned at the time. I did actually enjoy it, and as different as it is, I feel it is a must for any Bond story collector.

Ironically enough, Markham shows an incredible amount of insight into world politics at the end of the story. A Mr. Yermolov of the Soviet Union thanks Bond for a job well done, and in doing so, leaves us with this little piece of prophecy:

“`I`d like you to know that what you`ve done is extremely important. It`s helped to show my bosses, not just who our real enemy is – we know much more about Chinese ambitions than your observers do – but who our future friends are. England. America. The West in general.`”

In 1968, these words were written. In 1989, the Berlin Wall came down. Not a bad bit of prophecy, wouldn`t you say?

cold (Coldfall)

First Published: 1996 The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girls: Beatrice Maria da Ricci, Toni Nicoletti; The Villain: Brutus Clay; Locations Covered: Washington D.C., Italy, Idaho, Geneva, England; First Published: 1996

*Known as COLD in U.K. editions.

This was John Gardner`s last Bond novel and probably his best. It`s sloppy and isn`t as sturdy as his first three, but it`s sprightly and the best writing is unusually taut. There are many human moments and a curious sense of finality (Gardner probably knew from the outset that this would be his last).

The book`s structure is unusual. Slightly more than the first half is set in 1990, the rest in 1994 (the UK edition inexplicably omits the years). Women from Bond`s past flit in and out of the story in an effective “dance to the music of time”: Sukie Tempesta (“Nobody Lives Forever”), Freddie von Grusse (“Never Send Flowers”, “SeaFire”) and Beatrice Maria da Ricci (“Win, Lose or Die”).

The book has a whirlwind pace – it has more zip and zest than his previous Bond novels, though it rushes from one highlight to the next without regard to proper story construction.

A plane explodes on arrival at Dulles airport, yet there are too many people on the inaugural flight for it to be credible. Miss Moneypenny loses a friend; Sukie Tempesta is supposed to be on the flight. Two FBI agents are supposed to extradite a member of the mob. Worse, in Chapter 16 we learn that a British agent, blackmailing COLD, was also on that flight, an unbelievable plot convenience.

(Gardner also outsmarts himself. There`s no reason why Bond should think that Sukie wasn`t killed on the flight, but the illogic is easily glossed over and plays better than expected.)

M is kidnapped in Chapter 9 – it`s not spoiler information to reveal this; instead, it softens such incongruous plotting, otherwise those who remember and admire “Colonel Sun” might give up on the book. (The US edition briefly refers to “Colonel Sun”, but not the British edition. Why?) Chapter 17 has everybody rushing in to save Bond and it`s sloppy – the plotting is also muffled.

Chapter 14, “Interlude”, ties up some loose ends before the story jumps forward to 1994, but it`s almost too rushed, especially in the UK edition: an important scene between M and Bond is cut.

The action sequences are exciting and similar to what the Bond films offer. Chapter 9 has a great water-ski chase, and Chapters 12 and 13 feature a great helicopter chase through mountainous terrain – Gardner opens Chapter 13 with a dry, Fleming-like explanation about the loss of power in a fixed wing aircraft: it`s excellent writing.

There are details and passages that, astonishingly, *do* sound like Ian Fleming: In Chapter 8, in spite of Bond`s attempts to amuse the women with stories of life in England, and suitable jokes, the dinner drags. In Chapter 11, Bond reflects on the Swiss-like aspects of Washington State, contemplates retiring there, but decides that it would eventually pall (recalling “The Man With The Golden Gun”) because he`s essentially a European – the entire paragraph is great. In Chapter 18, Bond says that he`d still like to see Americans play a part in world affairs, even if they do it badly – a nice jab at them. M`s subsequent comments about Zurich, Berne and Geneva are pure Fleming.

Details about COLD (“The Children Of The Last Days” – a militia-like organization led by General Brutus Clay) in Chapter 6 are nice, i.e. the “church” flashback, the explanation of COLD`s motives and associations.

The Italian locations (Chapters 7 through 9, and 21 through 25) have much flavour. Elsewhere, the American west is well presented – it`s surprising that Gardner only developed a feel for location so late in the series.

It`s also Gardner`s darkest Bond novel. Chapter 4 is one of the best in the book, and is unusually restrained for Gardner (the police interview Bond after a friend of his is killed). Except for a silly bit about Bond not wanting to be called “Jim”, the writing is taut.

There are other great details. Chapter 3`s last sentence is excellent writing and heartfelt: Bond catches a glimpse of snow starting to fall after he hears tragic news. In Chapter 4 Bond examines a blackened piece of metal, the letter “T” entwined with an “S”. Bond asks the cops if he can reach into his pocket without them getting trigger happy. At the end of that passage Bond asks, “Why don`t we all go back and I`ll buy the coffee.” Even a throwaway bit, Bond saying that he`s beginning to feel chilly, is appropriate and lifelike.

There are other dark moments: Toni`s death (Chapter 16) is only referred to in a matter-of-fact manner, but the passage of time – it`s been a year since her death – makes it more powerful. Likewise, in Chapters 13 and 14, another female character`s death is discussed, and it`s also restrained and heartfelt.

Chapters 23 through 26 have many excellent passages. The last chapter is unusually powerful. M resigns and asks, “The question is did I fall or was I pushed?” then changes the subject. Is Gardner commenting on his own situation? The last paragraphs have much feeling, even a throwaway bit like, “A shade chilly for this time of the year,” Bond said, but neither man answered. Their job was to bring him in for a dressing-down from the new boss.” (The subsequent Churchill quote is nice and has much feeling.)

Gardner was usually terrible writing about women, but Sukie is well-drawn. She`s goofy and charming precisely because she`s not the typical parody of how Gardner sees women. (She has a nice moment early on in Chapter 2, she says: “To hear is to obey, O master.” which is cute.)

Beatrice is also one of Gardner`s stronger women; in Chapter 22 she defends Bond against a woman who labels him a sexist “who leaves the ladies feeling lonely and used.” In Chapter 18, Beatrice`s “small voice” is a sensitive detail. In Chapter 17, Bond wonders why he didn`t fight harder to keep Beatrice when they first met in 1989, and asks what kept her away – both this and her answer are sincere.

In Chapter 22 we learn that a character whom Bond trusted, even cared for, is a villain, and unlike Gardner`s other Bond novels where this twist is silly, here it`s inevitable, and surprisingly sad; sad because it`s true to life. (The writing in the revelation scene is excellent.) The character is off-kilter to begin with and Gardner properly sets up her child-like qualities. He writes about “The sly child stirring deep in her eyes.” (Chapter 22) which is excellent writing – no rhetoric whatsoever and effective for that reason. “It was you, wasn`t it, James? It was you who shot my lovely General Brutus Clay out of the skies?” – this is vivid writing. The character`s explanation how she faked her own death is brilliant, and psychologically clever – an Ian Fleming trademark. She became friendly with a girl, who worked as a chambermaid on the floor where her room was situated. “I could see that she`d be easy. She had that look. You know, the look that says “Why should she have it all? Why has she got money? Why can`t I get a better job and make more than they pay me here?”. There are other excellent details atypical of Gardner: how the maid is cajoled into the plan; the maid asking when can she leave, management not being pleased, how the Dulles plane was destroyed.

Other brilliant moments deserve noting (Chapter 22):

“She gave a vulpine grin. “Well, there was that, of course, but you see, we wanted to bankrupt Bradbury, and we did. What happened to him by the way? You never hear anything about Harley Bradbury these days.”

“He`s making a come-back, actually. Some people are like that, they drop to rock bottom and then claw their way back.”

“Good for old Harley.”

People talk this way in real life. It also shades the female character – she`s more human and repellant for it. It also enhances the tense revelation scene.

In Chapter 15, Bond recognizes the handwriting of a young woman that he`s been attempting to avoid for some time now – a lovely detail. In Chapter 18, Beatrice removes listening devices from the room, crushes them under her foot then flushes them down the toilet. She speaks quietly, but clearly into a device to the listeners.

In Chapter 23, Beatrice says that Bond`s blue boxers go well with his eyes, which makes him feel uncomfortable. She also repeatedly asks if her hat goes well with her suit. Normally this would flounder in a Gardner Bond novel, but it works here.

Gardner was too often glib, and there are silly moments that should have been cut, but there is some wonderful humour. In Chapter 8, Bond meets Guilliana Tempesta: “Oh, what a large mouth you have. All the better to eat you with.” Several pages later, she ravages him: “He [Bond] struggled for a moment, then thought, “Well, I`d better lie back and think of England.” In Chapter 2, “She [Sukie] cocked one eyebrow. “I think one of their wives was in bed with him.” The sly look once more. “Literally?” “Is there any other way?” The passage also shows just how well Gardner draws Sukie. In Chapter 23, Beatrice gets groped more than patted down.

Roberto, one of the Tempestas` men is well drawn and human. He only appears in Chapters 23 and 25 but his scenes are lively and he gives the book a boost. There are nice details: Roberto`s dialogue, Bond trying to get him drunk. Roberto`s reasons for changing sides are believable, and at the end, Bond wonders if Eddie Rhabb can use Roberto back in the United States – a nice human moment.

There are badly written passages, though. Gardner often writes “a couple of” when he means “several”. In Chapter 2, Bond hopes (in the US edition, he “prays”) that death was quick for all the people killed on the flight when a fireball ripped through the cabin. Duh. From Chapter 5, “Prime cracked ANOTHER of her RARE smiles.” (capitals mine) even though Bond has just met her. Better to have written, “Prime smiled again, something she did infrequently” which is more Fleming-like. From Chapter 7, “almost a shock” is like being partly pregnant; Gardner should have struck the entire sentence and gotten to the point. He also writes that Luigi`s “disconcerting eyes appeared to alter again, this time becoming like dangerous grey lava.” A maladroit attempt at Fleming`s “glint of red” – Gardner doesn`t even have it in his blood. In Chapter 13 he writes, “She wore a name badge which said Patti”. Why not just write, “Her name badge said “Patti.” Chapter 15 begins very badly – it picks up where “SeaFire” ended, and seems jinxed by that book (i.e. “her face broken and battered” which is dreadful writing) – it`s one of the worst written chapters. The scenes with Doctor Sanusi (Chapters 15, 16, 26) are terrible. In Chapter 23, Luigi tells Beatrice that “you`ve probably already realized, Ms da Ricci, that your new room is escape-proof. You cannot have failed to notice the bars on the windows, and the fact that the door is made of steel.” Beatrice must be stupid, because it should have told her something. It`s also terribly written. Just cut to the point. In Chapter 25, Bond freezes in shock. What else would he freeze in? The Tempesta Brothers stare with utter hatred at Bond. This is verbose, though the American edition cuts “utter”. Why not just write, “glared at”?

He also gets Fleming details wrong. In Chapter 13, Bond remembers a girl covered from head to toe in gold paint, but I don`t believe that he saw this in the book, just the film. Bond didn`t see the bullets ripping into Tracy in the book “On Her Majesty`s Secret Service” either. (How did Glidrose let these errors through?)

The British and American editions have curious differences:

In the US edition (Chapter 14), M mentions the code name “Tiny Dancer”, which sets up a plot twist later on, and discuss Elton John`s music. “I had a sense that whoever this Tiny Dancer was… Well, I had a sense that he, she or it was there…” “In the house?” “Either in the house or close by. Maybe a woman. Caught a whiff of scent, but I suppose that could have been aftershave.”* This is inexplicably cut from the UK edition. Why?

One indecent joke is cut from the American edition (Chapter 10):

*”And hello to you, Toni.”
Twenty minutes later he asked, “Do you come here often?”
“Not as often as I`d like.”
“Then you must visit me in London.”
“She snuggled close and made him promise to come back safely from Idaho.”

This nice throwaway moment appears in only the US edition (Chapter 21):

“Knew a nurse called Betts once,” said Bond apropos of nothing in particular.
“Good for you, James.” Eddie was slowly catching on: even passing him.”

There are nice observations in Chapter 11 comparing Bond`s relationships to ships passing in the night – this passage has feeling, but unfortunately it`s truncated in the US edition:

“On occasions – like the short time he had spent with Sukie at Dulles International – they would meet again, slake their mutual thirsts, and exchange whatever wisdom they had learned in the period spent apart. His whole life seemed to have been filled with a memory of women: sometimes a wilderness of them.”

The entire passage is heartfelt (why couldn`t Gardner always write this well?), though the US edition thankfully cuts “He saw tears start in her eyes, and wondered at his act of sentiment” after Bond quotes from “The Song of Solomon”.

The US edition also cuts (Chapter 24) the following:

Clay says that his hostages may well come in very useful and his audience applauds, Bond whispers [sic], “Author! Author!”.

Bond aficionados might want to compare both versions as it`s one of the better Bond novels.

Casino Royale

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Vesper Lynd; The Villain: Le Chiffre; Supporting Characters: Felix Leither, Mathis, “M”, Moneypenny; Locations covered: Royale-les-Eaux, France.

Casino Royale was the first 007 novel ever written by Fleming, but after reading the book, you get the feeling you`ve known the character for such a long time. Bond is definitely a creature of habit, and Fleming breeds a familiarity between character and reader very quickly.

Casino Royale starts off with “M” having received some intelligence that a French SMERSH operative, named Le Chiffre, is almost bankrupt. That information is particularly important to British intelligence for several reasons: one is that the Communist Le Chiffre and SMERSH are believed to be responsible for the deaths of British agents Donovan, Harthrop-Vane, Elizabeth Dumont, Ventnor, Mace, and Savarin. Two, it`s come to the attention of the Secret Service that Le Chiffre took funds given to him by his superiors at SMERSH, and embezzeled it, in order to invest in brothels that eventually went out of business. Now, Le Chiffre is in trouble. He`s 50 million francs in debt, and SMERSH will realize that he stole the money soon. Knowing what an exacting and ruthless organization he works for, Le Chiffre plans to do some high gambling at the casino in Royale-les-eaux to make up the shortfall.

The proposed counter operation:

“It would be greatly in the interests of this country and of the other nations of the North American Treaty Organization that this powerful Soviet agent should be ridiculed and destroyed, that his communist trade union should be bankrupted and brought into disrepute. (Assasination is pointless. Leningrad would quickly cover up his defalcations and make him into a martyr.) We therefore recommend that the finest gambler available to the Service should be given the necessary funds and endeavour to outgamble this man.”

Bond is, of course, assigned to the case, and his mission is to outgamble Le Chiffre, in hopes that SMERSH will get wise to Le Chiffre`s scams, and take care of one of their own.

In Royale-les-eaux, Bond meets his contact Mathis and a girl who will be his “companion” for the duration of his stay, Miss Vesper Lynd. Of course Bond would need a beautiful woman on his arm at the casinos. It would be unseemly for a man with his looks and charm to be without a companion. Also joining in the action is CIA agent Felix Leiter. The Americans are also interested in helping bring down Le Chiffre, and through Felix, have offered any support they can give.

About a fourth of the book takes place at the gambling tables of Casino Royale-les-eaux, yet Fleming doesn`t bore us. Each page is packed with tension, fear, anxiety, nerves and sweat. Bond must bankrupt Le Chiffre in order to accomplish his mission, yet 007 realizes that gambling is also one part luck, and he`s going to have to know when to rely on luck, and when to play conservatively.

Of course, 007 eventually wins the game. But it doesn`t come easy, nor without a price. Vesper ends up being kidnapped, which infuriates Bond, because up to this point, the mission was accomplished. Nothing else should`ve gone wrong.

“This was just what he had been afraid of. These blithering women who thought they could do a man`s work. Why could`nt they stay at home and mind their pots and pans and stick to their frocks and gossip and leave men`s work to men?”

Chapter 16, “The Crawling Of the Skin”, is a harsh and brutal glimpse into the use of torture by Le Chiffre to get Bond to divulge where he hid the money that he ended up winning from Le Chiffre. Without that 50 million francs, Le Chiffre is as good as dead.

Bond manages to get out of this as well, though the physical price paid is steep and severe. Vesper Lynd stays with James after the mission has been accomplished, to help nurse him back to health, so to speak. James has slowly fallen in love with Vesper, but Vesper is cool to return his love. It seems she`s concealing a terrible secret that could tear their romance apart.

Casino Royale lays the groundwork for what will become future hallmarks of the 007 book series. A gruff, stern, yet caring “M”. Witty flirtation between 007 and Miss Moneypenny, M`s secretary. Exotic locations. Beautiful and willing women. Ruthless villians.

Casino Royale also brings out a side of Bond that we see mostly in the novels. The dark side of Bond. A very dark side that drives 007 to stay emotionally cold and aloof to the opposite sex. A dark side that sends him drinking away his anxieties about being a killer. Incidentally, Casino Royale gives us some history on how Bond became a 00 agent. Page 109, Chapter 20 “The Nature Of Evil” goes into detail on how Bond attained his 00 status.

Casino Royale sets up the rest of Ian`s works quite nicely. Bond is a man for whom killing does not come easy. Regardless of the circumstances. Bond is a man of habit. He likes to eat the same foods, drink the same wines, and lodge at the same hotels. `Royale` is one of the darkest and most violent of the Bond series, but it`s also one of the best ways of getting into the mindset of James Bond 007.


The Hero: James Bond; The Villain: Brokenclaw Lee; The Bond Girl: Chi Chi; Supporting Characters: “M”, Ed Rushia, Bill Tanner, Anne Reilly, Grant, Bone Bender Ding; Locations Covered: San Francisco, Victoria B.C. New York; First Published: 1990

Brokenclaw succeeds as a modern day Bond novel due to largely familiar structure and content. Its villain is a charismatic figure who uses age-old religious fervour to instill fear and loyalty from his minions while our hero`s mission is to stop a foreign power – with China now taking over Russia`s role of old – from procuring the plans for a state-of-the-art defence system. Along the way 007 endures a torture which threatens his very manhood and faces a trial of fire at the climax, the like of which would send any normal mortal to an early grave. In effect, Gardner delivers his most pleasing and traditional Bond by returning to Fleming`s original methods.

In keeping with Gardner`s own view of Bond`s world, James is found to be battle-weary as the action kicks off, yet unlike many of the author`s other offerings 007 is central to the action, not the mere bystander of later novels. The universally condemned Armourer`s assistant Anne Reilly, or Q`ute as she is unfortunately known, has a thankfully token presence while M plays a major role, commanding the mission with an authority and irritability worthy of Fleming`s old man CIA contact, who uses his hillbilly charm to disguise an obvious competency, thus proving to be a fine replacement for Felix Leiter.

Of course good characterisation does not make a novel alone. Gardner never lets the reader grow bored as Bond and his new partner, Chi Chi, take on the personas of two couriers sent from China to recover secret information obtained by Brokenclaw Lee for a new method of tracking submarines. The suspense is piled on as the agents find themselves sinking deeper into a web of deception which constantly threatens to fall apart around them. Central to the danger is Brokenclaw himself, a man capable of callous acts unhampered by the niceties of modern espionage. He has no need for drugs to break a man, when good old-fashioned torture and a pack of ravenous wolves prove to be a far less complicated means to an end. In keeping with Fleming`s villains of yesteryear, Lee joins Dr No and Scaramanga in bearing a physical oddity to display his displaced humanity. As Bond notes:

“Lee`s left hand, palm open, had his thumb on the right side, as though at conception, the hand had grown from the wrist the wrong way round, so that with palms outstretched the thumb was to the right; when the palms faced down, the thumb was on the left.”

Brokenclaw proves that fans of Bond need not despair at the name Gardner and ignore the man who kept the franchise alive for fifteen years. While not all of Gardner`s ideas and changes to established Bond lore can be justified, there is no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. By doing so gems like this will be missed.

Bond Strikes Camp

by: Cyril Connolly (1963)

A parody. Only published in the UK. M has the hots for Bond, orders him into drag, then tricks him into bed. Seriously. Features Bond, M, May, and Lolita Ponsonby (Bond`s secretary in the early Fleming novels; here she`s a Lesbian).

1963, London Magazine

1963, Previous Convictions
1984, Faber Book of Parodies

-Bond`s flat
-MI6 Headquarters
-Armoury (in basement)
-Studio off Kinnerton Street
-Local Cinema
-Kitchener Social Club, Lower Belgrave Mews, SW
-General Count Apraxin`s flat

General Count Apraxin (M) aka Vladimir Mischitch (“Just call me Vladimir; the accent is on the second syllable.”)

-subversive nookie

-The new hat-check girl from “the Moment Of Truth”
-Ms Loelia (Lolita) Ponsonby (aka Robin)

-a souped up Pierce Arrow: 31 open tourer with two three-piece windscreens

-child`s water pistol with a small screw-top ink-bottle full of some transparent liquid
-chestnut wig
-artificial eyelashes
-Large foam rubber falsies with electronic self-erecting nipples – pink for blondes, brown for brunettes, round or pear-shaped (“Round, for Christ`s sake!” “I bet you could give someone a good butt in the eye with those charleys.”)
-Black-moire brassiere (“There should be room for a guy to get his hand up under the bra and have a good riffle.”)
-slinky black lace panties
-black satin evening skirt with crimson silk blouse suspended low on the shoulder
-a blue mink scarf
-black stockings
-black shoes with red stilettos
-high heels
-evening bag
-couple of lipsticks
-pack of cigarettes (Senior Service)
-long cane holder
-costume jewellery
-charm bracelet
-membership card for the Kitchener Social Club
-pocket mirror
-tortoiseshell comb
-enamel compact
-box of eye make-up with a tiny brush
-black eye-shadow

-Miss Haslip (actually, just a confused man)
-Colin Mount

-Gerda Blond

-M`s assignment
-cinema (showing “La Dolce Vita”)
-General Count Apraxin`s flat
-taxi ride

-six eggs (five don`t boil right)
-thin finger of wholemeal toast
-Blue Mountain coffee
-Club sandwich
-Eggs Omdurman
-Sirdar Special (drink)
-Tattinger Blanc de blancs, `52
-Old Grandad

-“And if the pace gets too hot?” “Then you must pull out.”
-“That`s my comma.” “I`m afraid I make more use of the colon.”
-“If it had been anyone else I might have urged you to leave the country but with modern methods of eliciting information you would be blown in a day.”

-“And now perhaps you`d better leave me, 007; I shall have one or two reports to make.”

-And remember: “Do be careful in the loo. That`s where nearly all the mistakes are made.”

Blast From The Past

“The Fed Ex letter was delivered at 9:30. Bond signed for the letter and took it back into the sitting room. It was from “J. Suzuki” in New York. He opened it and read:


And with those words, Raymond Benson and James Bond are off, taking readers across the Atlantic into the streets of New York City to look for James Suzuki, Bond`s only known son.

“Bond had fathered the child while suffering from amnesia during a dark period of his life when he lived as a simple fisherman with Kissy on a small island in Japan.”

007 isn`t in New York for very long before he realizes the grim truth about the fate of his son- he`s dead. Enter Special Agent Cheyl Haven, assigned to investigate the mysterious surroundings of James Suzuki`s death. he clues lead them to a safety deposit box at the bank where Suzuki worked, and in turn a familiar looking bag lady, whom Bond is sure he`s seen before. He has, and she turns out to be a blast from his past with murder in mind. She`s rigged the safety deposit box to explode upon opening, and Bond give`s her full chase in a taxi cab:

An empty taxi cab was idling in fromt of a delicatessan about 100 feet west of them. The OFF DUTY light was on; the driver had stepped out and gone inside the deli. Bond sprinted toward it and jumped into the driver`s seat. Chreyl ran to the passenger side. As Bond drove off, the cabdriver ran out of the delicatessen, shouting.

“I`m not sure whay you just did was entirely legal,” Cheryl said.

“They do it in the movies all the time”, Bond said, speeding toward Fifth Avenue.
There`s some really witty humor in this short story. Benson does a nice job peppering action sequences with light humor to make them go by a little faster. I for one, don`t like reading long drawn out action sequences. Those are better left to the movies. Benson`s 007 even gets in some beautiful jabs at the villian, but I can`t quote them here, or it would give away the surprise of who the villian is.

Blast From The Past is like a Black Cat firecracker. Short, and small, but packs a powerful punch. The tale is tight, with no boring sequences or gaps of interest to go through. There are nice shades of “Phantom Of the Opera” sprinkled in, and references to other Bond adventures 007 took. You`ll have to sort of take the story with a grain of salt, and not think too hard about how old Bond must`ve been when he went to Japan way back when. The literary series is 44 years old now, and Benson has to fudge the timeline somewhat to give us such a nice and compact tale. This story is actually so good, i`d like to see it one day expanded into a full fledged novel. My only complaint with the story was the very last part, where Cheryl Haven offers 007 her breast. It was a bit crude, lacked any subtlety, and was really out fo place considering this was a story about Bond`s question for vengance for James Suzuki. Other than that, the story is great and should be added to any serious literary Bond reader`s collection.