REVIEW OF THE NEW JAMES BOND NOVEL BY JEFFERY DEAVER
CARTE BLANCHE, the new James Bond 007 novel by Jeffery Deaver launches the book series anew. James Bond is a young agent, only three years into his career. Through a flashback the reader is allowed to witness Bond’s recruitment into a new espionage agency independent of both MI5 and MI6, an agency where his assignment is to protect the realm at all costs. And of course the realm needs plenty of protecting. There is a new threat. Thousands of lives are at stake. Bond must learn the exact nature of the threat, where the attack will occur, and stop it before it’s too late.
WHAT I LIKED: This is quintessential James Bond. Deaver went to great lengths to give the story the feel of classic 007 while still plopping it firmly in the 21st century. There are the fast cars, the martinis, the beautiful women with ridiculous names (in this case, Felicity Willing and Philly Maidenstone), Bond’s suave and sophisticated personality, the clever gadgets, and the megalomaniac villain (Severan Hydt). Deaver even gives us some insights into Bond’s emotions and his past, helping to round out what otherwise could become a cartoon character. In particular, Bond’s musings on his parents’ deaths and his childhood interested me.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: Some of the same things. This is quintessential Bond, and while Deaver did place him in a post 911 world some of it felt like it was from another era – because it is. Felicity Willing and Philly Maidenstone – really? I get it. Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming, used more preposterous names than these, but does that element need to persist? It seems dated and degrading. Bond himself, though a young man in the novel, also seems dated, a man out of his time. By holding so close to the Bond of legend I feel in some ways the character has not been allowed to grow as he should. That said, Deaver is in a difficult position. Bond fans will expect – even demand – certain conventions. If these elements are not present the loyal fan base could reject the new series. And, again, this is the first novel. It’s a starting place. My guess is that Deaver will continue to let the character grow as readers come to accept him as the new Bond author. In fact, he has already done so to a small degree in that Bond has thoughts of a longer-than-one-night relationship with a woman and actually decides against having sex with one of the beautiful women available to him. How 21st century of him!
My real disappointment came not from the character or the forced devices, but in the plot itself. Take away the Bond paraphernalia, the women, the cars, the gadgets, and what’s left is a very run-of-the-mill thriller novel. Try as I might, I just couldn’t engage with this book. Nothing grabbed me. I knew Bond would live through the experience and every other character was two dimensional. I just couldn’t care what happened to any of them. Honestly, if I didn’t want to see how Deaver handled all of the Bond clichés I most likely would have abandoned the book after the first 100 pages. The story simply didn’t have anything new to offer, no true tension, no real surprises, even the twists seemed well-tried.
MY FINAL TAKE: If you’re a true Bond fan, you’ll probably enjoy the ride. Aside from that, there’s really not much reason to read CARTE BLANCHE. Deaver is a strong writer as evidenced by his other works, but I fear Bond may simply belong to the past.
WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH THOM?
I’ve just gone over the proofs for my soon-to-be-released action thriller, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, which is due out in August 2011 from Speaking Volumes. This is the first novel in my Marc Huntington series. Those familiar with my audio drama series of the same name will remember that Marc and Dana Huntington are recovery experts who make their living locating and retrieving rare stolen artifacts and treasures, kidnapped persons, and anything else that brings with it a substantial finder’s fee. In DEAD MAN’S FIRE, Marc learns that the adult son of his former Delta Force commander has gone missing in the Amazon so Marc and Dana head south of the equator in search of the young man only to find nearly every member of the expedition murdered and an ancient fossil that seems to be at the heart of it all missing.
After completing the proofs for DEAD MAN’S FIRE, I’ve returned to writing the sequel, CHASING KELVIN, which should be released in early 2012. As well, my horror/sci-fi novel, THE EMPTY, is set for a 4th quarter 2011 release from L & L Dreamspell.
CHECK OUT THIS RECENT INTERVIEW I gave with Susan Whitfield: http://www.susanwhitfield.blogspot.com/
READ THE 1ST CHAPTER OF MY SUPERNATURAL THRILLER, THE DEMON BAQASH: http://demonbaqash.wordpress.com/
SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40
Thom Reese is the author of THE DEMON BAQASH and 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS. Upcoming releases include the novels, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, CHASING KELVIN, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATER. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published in four collections. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.
Copyright 2011 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.