Thursday, February 16, 2012
Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver
At long last, we have a James Bond novel that truly does justice to the other books while also existing as its own entity. Since Ian Fleming died, several authors have taken their shot at writing the character with a few one-shots, Kingsley Amis in 1968 with Colonel Sun and Sebastian Faulks with Devil May Care in 2008, and two long running authors in John Gardner (1981-1996) and Raymond Benson (1997-2002).
I have enjoyed pretty much all the continuation novels (save for the Faulks one which felt a little self-conscious and a few of the later Gardner Books) but the most recent one, penned by Jeffrey Deaver blows everyone out of the water.
Deaver reboots Bond a little, keeping his basic back story the same but updating him to the modern era and having him relatively new to the 00-section. Bond is investigating a possible terrorist threat that leads him to a shady businessman with a rather sick sense of entertainment (once you read the book, you will see that I have just made the understatement of the century) and along the way, there are many twists and turns that leave the reader breathless. It really says something that I was surprised by the reveal at the end, generally I can pinpoint surprises with a fair degree of accuracy.
Deaver does the reader a great service by not only keeping Bond true to his roots but also making the character his own, in a way. The usual stuff is there with the girls and gadgets and style but Deaver adds in a skill for analysis and investigation that turns James Bond into an almost Sherlock Holmes-esque hero. It's a real treat to see the man work things out as the story moves along.
Deaver truly gets what makes James Bond work and beings his signature style, offering a wonderfully complex and thoughtful plot with memorable (and in some cases, really messed up) characters who never come across as one dimensional. I truly hope he stays on as author and we get many more books as good as this, if not better.