Monday, 30 May 2011

Carte Blanche review

As mentioned in a previous post the new James Bond novel by Jeffery Deaver, Carte Blanche, was published on 26 May. I managed to find a hardback copy in my local branch of Tescos for £5.00, a price I was quite happy to pay. I read the novel of the weekend and here are my initial impressions.

The book itself is very nicely presented. There is a nice glossy '007' embossed on the front cover and the dust-jacket has a pleasing satin finish. At around 428 pages the novel is quite a bit longer than previous Bond novels.

The character of Bond has been moved to the present day. He is now a veteran of Afghanistan and works for an organisation called the ODG, which is attached to MI6. A lot of Bond characters make appearances such as M, Miss Moneypenny (albeit briefly), Mary Goodnight and Felix Leiter. Q Branch still exists although there is no Major Boothroyd.

The story concerns an intercepted message that suggests an attack on British interests will take place at the end of the week, resulting in the deaths of thousands. Bond has to investigate and find out who the players are and what the plot is.

There are four main settings: Serbia, the UK, Dubai and South Africa. I thought there was relatively little time spent in Dubai considering how the book was being trailed as being set there. I think I probably enjoyed the early UK-set parts of the book more than the latter parts, maybe because of the passages describing Bond's thoughts on his appealing colleague Philly. I do have to say that I think Deaver has got Bond's 'voice' spot-on.

And there are definitely little touches of Fleming in the book, for example when describing Bond's Bentley thus:
'It had always been his goal to own one of the stately yet wickedly fast and clever vehicles.'

When I read lines like that I just smile.

If I have any complaints they would relate to some of the slightly contrived misdirection and that there were not enough 'Fleming' style chapter titles. As I read the book I thought up quite a few suitable ones.
It must be noted that the American Deaver must have done a lot of research on British pop culture. Top Gear, The Two Ronnies and  ASDA all get a mention. The only 'mistake' I picked up was one reference to 'Dr Who' instead of 'Doctor Who'.

Overall it was a very enjoyable read and I would not object to seeing Mr Deaver's name on the next Bond novel, whenever that may be!

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