Having been a James Bond fan most of my life, mainly from the movies, I have never read an actual James Bond novel. I thought to give this book a try since this was written in the style of Ian Fleming.
What I liked the most about this book is the setting or time frame this book takes place. This book is set back in the 60’s and there are some references that supports the limited technology back even though it was thought of as being advanced. In the book, Bond gets a cable when arrived at a hotel. Being old enough that this type of cable is not the same one you get on your tv but rather a telegraph cable like today’s faxes but on a limited scale. Another telltale is the use of the phones. Unlike today’s phones with call waiting functions or cell phones, these characters did not have the mobility we take for granted. Lastly, the exotic locations that Bond is constanly visits in his travels serves as exciting background setting for all his adventures.
There are some negative aspects to the book which are unfortunate but you should be made aware of in case you plan to buy this book outright. First off, the book, in my opinion, is short as far as telling this story. Coming in at 278 pages, I read this book in several hours which for me is incredible because I am not a fast reader. As such, there is a great deal of monologues which delivers the needed exposition. One of the flaws, like with most of the Bond villians, we always see Bond get capture and the main baddie tells Bond of his plans to do some type of diabolical plan. Once Bond gets the information, we see Bond go to work to foil the plans. We’ve seen this before and there is nothing new here.
One of the other draws to the Bond series are the villians themselves. Doctor Gorner in this book has been describe with an affliction which gives him a monkey like hand. While the imagery is interesting enough, the whole motivation for the rise of this villian and what he plans to do with his drug factory does gel enough to make him truly evil or menacing.
The other note to mention is how Bond plays against Gorner in a game of tennis at the beginning of the book. This has got to be the most un-Bond like action I have ever witnessed. This makes the card game in Casino Royale seem like the Super Bowl. I know what Faulks is trying to do in this early setup of having adversaries meet on neutral ground but you might have been better off reading Gorner vs Bond is some type of Iron Chef match. I know Bond is an all around man about town but honestly, Bond can’t know or play everything and come off as expert; white agents can’t jump.
As I end this review, I can’t say that I recommend this book but rather the book did inspire me to want to read Fleming’s own work. As one reviewer wrote, Faulks does a great job to mimic the flavor of Fleming but no enough to be Fleming. If Faulks set the expectations at this level, I expect Fleming would surpass this set bar.
In case your interested, I post a youtube clip of the theme song for the book by SAL. The video is fair but the song itself is pretty good to deliver a Bond feel. Ejnoy!