Wednesday, October 24, 2012

carte blanche

Carte Blanche is Jeffery Deaver's shot at James Bond. The 007 franchise* apparently worked out a deal with Deaver to write this new Bond novel, and they apparently hold the copyright, according to the frontmatter in the paperback I read. So come on, lets celebrate Bond Day** with a smashing new book. What, what?

Deaver is no slouch when it comes to action novels, and he's written his fair share of intrigue (he's probably best known for his Lincoln Rhyme series), but I don't really think of him as spy novel guy. I haven't read a lot of his books, but a few and I've usually liked them, so I was happy to give him a go at 007 to see how he did. All-in-all: not bad.

James Bond has got to be a difficult character to take on as a writer when folks know the character so well from the Fleming books, (its been nearly 60 years after Ian Fleming's first novel: Casino Royale) and especially the movies. The movies did change Bond's character somewhat as the times changed, and one could say that this new novel is just another step in that long path for James Bond. Some of the later movies are based on bond short stories Fleming wrote, including Quantum of Solace, which surprised me given its modern sounding title.*** According to Slate; "There have been 23 official Bond novels written since Fleming's death, produced by five different authors." Who knew?

Carte Blanche is fast moving, and well paced. Bond's personality and inner thoughts punctuate the text, and there are some subtleties such as what he drinks, and how he thinks about the tasks at hand, that stray from the super-confident character of the earlier movies, but I'm not sure how different this is from the Fleming novels: its been years since I read one. Bond does seems both modernized, and softened in this novel.

There were also a few softballs where Bond escaped by the skin of his teeth, and Deaver didn't really work it out for us, and he made use of the tragic-cliffhanging-chapter-end quite a bit. So, a little rough around the edges; maybe a little lazy, even. Will Deaver get the chance to write another one? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

One last thing: product placements in novels? I hope not, but that's what it looked like to me. ick

Okay, second last thing: Jeffery Deaver is American, right, not British. I'm not sure how many of those other post-Fleming writers were British, but I'm guessing it was like... all of them.

* Ian Fleming Publications LTD

** October 5, 2012 was 'Global James Bond Day' or the 50th anniversary of the film franchise.

*** quantum (noun) - a required or allowed amount, esp. an amount of money legally payable in damages.
-a share or portion : each man has only a quantum of compassion. oops

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