Review: 007: Carte Blanche

By Jeffrey Deaver

Hodder & Stoughton, Out now

James Bond has less than a week to prevent the murder of thousands of innocents…

Unlike Sebastian Faulkes’ 2008 entry to the Bond canon, Devil May Care, Jeffrey Deaver’s first 007 story is a complete reboot of the secret agent’s adventures. Set in 2011, it sees James Bond now working for an ultra-secret part of the intelligence world, connected to but not part of MI6.

Deaver has very carefully updated everything from Bond’s world, or at least their trappings. The books published between 1995 and 2002 introduced a female M, in line with the Pierce Brosnan movies, but Bond’s boss here is the original M, with a similar description and backstory to the ones Fleming created in the 1950s. The same applies to Miss Moneypenny, Chief of Staff Bill Tanner – even Bond’s own secretary, Mary Goodnight, returns to the series.

Bond himself is pretty much the same as when Fleming introduced him nearly 60 years ago; the only difference now is that he doesn’t smoke, and his alcohol intake is reduced. He still enjoys fine food and wine, and has a connoisseur’s appreciation of beauty in many different forms. And, as Fleming’s agent did, he uses every trick in the spy book to achieve his goals, which, in today’s world, means making the most of electronic surveillance techniques.

The story itself is a typically gripping Jeffrey Deaver thriller, with the twists and turns that characterise his writing. The location moves from Serbia, to London, Dubai and finally to South Africa, all of which Deaver brings to life,  appealing to each of the readers’ senses. There are some well-written action sequences, the requisite seduction scene, and an escalating sense of tension. Bond fans will also find a number of “Easter Eggs”.

Verdict: An engrossing thriller that lives up to the best of Fleming’s Bond.  8/10

Paul Simpson

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