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Olen Steinhauer's latest novel, The Nearest Exit features former CIA agent Milo Weaver, whose story began in the New York Times bestselling thriller, The Tourist. His previous work includes a pentalogy of thrillers set during the Cold War, beginning with The Bridge of Sighs and concluding with Victory Square.
How do you bring a character created in 1953 into the modern world without disappointing that character’s millions of followers in the process? This was the challenge faced by Jeffery Deaver when Ian Fleming Publications handed him the responsibility of writing the next official James Bond novel, Carte Blanche. I don’t know how I would have done it, but I do know one thing—Deaver, a specialist in the art of crafting nail-biting suspense, has done it better than I ever could have.
It’s a tightrope walk, balancing the tradition with the requirements of contemporary life, and Deaver handles it with panache. Beautiful women with unlikely but mesmerizing names? Check. (See Ophelia Maidenstone and Felicity Willing.) A top-drawer set of wheels with occasional soliloquies to its grace and power? Check. (The Bentley Continental GT coupé, in this case.) M, Moneypenny, Mary Goodnight, Bill Tanner, Felix Leiter? Check on all counts. A drink on hand that requires extra care from a bartender, but has yet to be named? Check. License to kill? Check, but under a different name: carte blanche.
How about the subtly and unsubtly perverse villains? Naturally, and they come in two sharply defined forms: Niall Dunne, "The Irishman," a brilliant tactician who brings to mind From Russia With Love’s Kronsteen, and his boss, Severan Hydt, the head of a global refuse-collection empire, whose love of decay in all its forms borders on necrophilia. Time spent with Hydt will make you long for a shower.
But what the Fleming aficionado will inevitably notice here are the differences, which turn this latest escapade into what feels, and should feel, like one of those things that are very popular these days: a reboot.
James Bond, a veteran of Afghanistan, is an ex-smoker. Despite run-ins with an MI5 twit named Percy Osborne-Smith, this Bond is more of a team player than I remember him ever being. But where one really notices the encroachment of the contemporary world is in his relations with women. James Bond has become . . . sensitive?
Actually, yes, but never to the point of priggishness. The hard Bond remains, but it’s a different world than it was in 1953, and the women in Carte Blanche—the Bond girls, if you will—are of equal measure to the men. Ophelia Maidenstone, a coworker at ODG (Overseas Development Group, tenuously connected to MI6), besides being ravishingly beautiful, is indispensible—without her, Bond would be dead in the water. And when romance begins to bloom between them we find that, even after he’s left town, she remains, haunting his thoughts so much that after a night with another woman Bond feels, of all unlikely things, guilt.
If this seems very un-Bond, it is, but it’s a testament to Deaver’s strength as a storyteller that the reader so easily accepts that this is Fleming’s world 2.0, and it’s just as dangerous and exciting as it was when Le Chiffre glared from across a card table.
Don’t run from this new world, aficionado, for you’ll be rewarded. Not only with a gripping installment, but with a fascinating subplot concerning Bond’s parents, one that not only piques the reader’s interest but, by the end of the novel, begs for a continuation in the next Bond adventure. This new Bond may be a modern man, but his roots are deep in the past, and if Carte Blanche is any indication, the past will soon catch up with him. I, for one, will gladly be on hand to witness that confrontation.
Great to reprise James Bond! Hope Deaver will write more Bond stories! Loved the Deaver twists in plot as usual in his other books. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Mamie
It was a good read. It is worth your time. I intend to buy more books by this author.
Raymond -Marietta, GA
Exotic locales and wilful women, effective James Bond reboot in the age of terrorism with the traditional deaveresque games behind games and twists behind twists. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Nils Hĺkon Nordberg
Nice to be able to revisit my favorite characters and meet new ones. A good story.Published 1 month ago by Judy