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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fleming's Bond is back
Faulks does really capture the essence of Fleming's Bond and the cold war era. I read this in one sitting and it was like going back in time to when I first discovered the written Bond. Having recently re-read the old Fleming novels, this was an exact fit it both style and atmosphere. A gritty but world weary Bond mixed with entertaining bad guys and stunning women. Also...
Published on May 29, 2008 by Nick Brett

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54 of 63 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A James Bond Thriller Without Thrills
If someone had told me that the new James Bond novel had been written by a food and fashion critic rather than a novelist, I would have believed it.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of 007 creator Ian Fleming's birth, a new Bond novel was commissioned by his estate and Ian Fleming Publications (his literary business) and it's the first published in six years...
Published on June 4, 2008 by Paul Baack


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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fleming's Bond is back, May 29, 2008
By 
Nick Brett (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Faulks does really capture the essence of Fleming's Bond and the cold war era. I read this in one sitting and it was like going back in time to when I first discovered the written Bond. Having recently re-read the old Fleming novels, this was an exact fit it both style and atmosphere. A gritty but world weary Bond mixed with entertaining bad guys and stunning women. Also nice to see it in the low tech era of the 60's where Bond needs a coin for a phone call!
A nostalgic romp that captures Fleming's work very well. I hope this is not a one off!
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54 of 63 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A James Bond Thriller Without Thrills, June 4, 2008
By 
Paul Baack (Bloomingdale, Illinois) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
If someone had told me that the new James Bond novel had been written by a food and fashion critic rather than a novelist, I would have believed it.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of 007 creator Ian Fleming's birth, a new Bond novel was commissioned by his estate and Ian Fleming Publications (his literary business) and it's the first published in six years. Sebastian Faulks was chosen--a curious choice, as he is known mostly for "literature" and not thrillers. It's now apparent why he appeared to be a good selection, because he has the ability to mimic Fleming's style... but unfortunately he is not able to reproduce Fleming's flair for storytelling. The cover legend "Sebastian Faulks writing as Ian Fleming" turns out to be a joke, really, because DEVIL MAY CARE straddles the fine line between pastiche and parody. It was as if Faulks sat down with a checklist of "Bondian Stuff" and proceeded to make sure every page was full of it--so much so that the work becomes annoying and, frankly, laughable. Fleming was often accused of "sex, sadism, and snobbery," but in Faulks' book, only the snobbery is apparent. There is way too much brand-name-dropping and food description. Fleming did this but he made it an art and used it sparingly. Here, there seems to be a meal or a drink or clothing described in painstaking detail in every sequence--all to the detriment of plot and characterization.

Hardcore Fleming fans will be quick to point out the various errors Faulks has made with regard to the Bond canon, but these are minor and can be forgiven. After all, other continuation authors have made mistakes as well, and even Fleming committed the occasional factual error. What is more problematic is that Faulks has written a by-the-numbers Bond story that feels more like a treatment for an unproduced Roger Moore-style Bond movie. The tone and attitude in the book is too flippant and light. One can feel the author winking at us, as if to say, "See what I'm doing? I'm writing a *James Bond novel*!"

The plot is silly. There is no good reason why M sends 007 out to shadow the villain (who has what the author must have thought was a Fleming-esque deformity--a monkey's paw--but that really is parodic!). Events happen without cause and effect. Bond is suddenly a tennis champ but there is no evidence in the 007 canon that Bond ever played tennis. He walks blindly into suspicious scenarios as if he had the brains of a rookie (he's probably thinking about what he's going to wear and what he's going to have for dinner!). The villain, Dr. Julius Gorner (couldn't the author have come up with a better first name, since we've already had a "Dr. Julius"--Dr. Julius No?), is ineffectual and provides no real threat that we, as readers, can feel. Fleming, known for his "Fleming Effect," could write a story that compelled readers to keep turning the pages. Faulks fails miserably in that regard. There is no suspense whatsoever.

It is sad that this poor excuse of a Bond novel was chosen to celebrate Fleming's centenary. What is more remarkable is the amount of money spent to promote it. The former authors--Kingsley Amis, John Gardner, and Raymond Benson--never benefitted from this kind of promotion. This book is simply not worth the hoopla. Raymond Benson came up with infinitely better plots and villains; John Gardner captured the page-turning sweep of Fleming's storytelling; and Kingsley Amis was a better imitator of Fleming's style. But no one can top Fleming himself.

The worst sin that Faulks has committed, though, is producing a "James Bond thriller" that has no thrills. And that is unforgivable.
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40 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Come in, 007. It's good to see you back.", May 29, 2008
Ian Fleming's immortal spy has continued to thrill us since the author's death in 1964, in the famous film series and in "tribute" novels by a succession of writers, notably the late John Gardner. For the 100th anniversary of Fleming's birth, his estate commissioned noted British author Sebastian Faulks to take up where Fleming left off. And that is precisely what he's done--DEVIL MAY CARE is set in the 1960s, right after the events of Fleming's final works.

The plot is just what I hoped it would be: Bond is saving the world from a nefarious villain, with action and girls and martinis, not to mention "M" and Moneypenny. There are even a few nifty hindsight jokes thrown in for the benefit of readers in 2008. More than any previous "tribute" novels, this one is scrupulously faithful to the style and intent of the original artist. And that's as it should be--after all, this is supposed to be a celebration of Fleming himself.

I'm glad they found a writer of this caliber to carry on the Bond tradition. I hope Faulks intends to continue the series, but I suspect that will depend on how DEVIL MAY CARE is received by the critics and the public. But if you're a lifelong 007 fan like me, you'll feel compelled to read this one. I don't think you'll be disappointed. Recommended.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Faulks is no Ian Fleming..! A sad pastiche for new 007 book, June 3, 2008
By 
W. von Tagen III (Morgan Hill, Ca United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The problem, I suppose, is that when one is writing "as Ian Fleming", one is expected to write like Ian Fleming.

Devil May Care, the new `adult' James Bond novel (as opposed to the `young' Bond book series by Charlie Higson) is written by Sebastian Faulks. Now, I've read Ian Fleming, and Mr. Faulks is no Ian Fleming.
There is next to no of the so called "Fleming sweep" that picks you up and carries you through the book. Part of the reason why is every time the story starts to sweep you along, Mr. Faulks cuts away to somewhere else.

The first half of the book also suffers from mischaracterizations of familiar characters from the Bond canon. Bond's housekeeper May is the first causality. If you had read Fleming, you would know how see addresses Bond. They way Faulks does it I found to be jarring. We expect familiar reactions from familiar characters. Bonds' boss M. suffers the same fate. Who is this person? Certainly not the man who sent Bond on all those dangerous missions. Can you picxture that M., aka Sir Miles Messervy, asking Bond to bring him chocolates on his way back from Paris? What the Devil is going on here?

And then we have the mission. Summer,1967: M. has a feeling that someone is up to no good and wants Bond to find out what it is.
That's it. That's all the reason Bond is sent on a mission. A feeling. All that's needed, I suppose.
The fact that the person really is up to something doesn't matter.
Plus, as it turns out, M. is not being truthful to Bond. Sends him out without the full and truthful information that Bond may need to survive. "Not quite cricket", as the villain would (and does) say in this book.
By the time the nefarious plot of the villain is revealed, we are more than halfway into the book. And then it turns out to be a revenge plot against England. But what about the whole setup about drug running? Oh, all this and World War III? And the British non-involvement in Viet Nam....?
The Devil May Care about this book, but I really don't. It's second rate Bond, ranking alongside the worst of the Gardner books (Don't get me wrong, I only consider one or two of Gardner books really bad). Muddled villain reasonings, characters who appear then vanish (Bond's once and future secretary, brought back for no reason at all after leaving the service OVER FIVE YEARS BEFORE THE STORY BEGINS). Badly characterization of familiar figures, and familiar figures who are brought into the story just to be brought into the story (Felix Leiter, although I'm always glad to see him, really didn't need to be in this book).

To be a second rate Fleming could be forgiven. To give us a second rate adult Bond after all this time....unforgivable.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Return to the past, May 29, 2008
New Bond author Sebastian Faulks returns the British agent to mid nineteen-sixties England, immediately after the close of the final Ian Fleming entry in the original series. Faulk creates a period piece in which the character, writing style and environment are returned to their roots.

The plot resembles that of Goldfinger. There is a minimum of mayhem in the first half of the book; especially as compared to the movie series and modern adventure fiction. Bond bests villian Dr. Julius Gorner in tennis rather than golf, helps a woman whose sister was compromised (the Masters sisters in Goldfinger), breaks in to Gorner's stronghold, is captured and held captive at a desert hideaway (a horsefarm in the prior book.)

Bond is once again a two packs of cigarettes a day athlete who consumes martinis more often than he does pushups, while eschewing technical aides or "gadgets." The "sex, sadism, snobbery" mantra of the early books is again in evidence except that the sex is treated lightly compared to current fiction.

Faulks portrays Bond as a "citizen of eternity." 007 is an agent with a moral compass which enables him to make quick decisions rather than think through "ten shades of gray." He possesses the certainty associated with the black and white world of the Cold War.

The book is a nostalgic tour of a low tech past: pre-revolution Iran, padlocks as security, circumspection in Bond's maiming and killing. The story's adherence to period integrity makes it even more interesting when Faulks has the iconic Cold Warrior react to facts unknown at the time. When Gorner tells Bond that the CIA flies cargoes of opium out of Southeast Asia, Bond replies "That's absurd."

Although the feel of the book is dated, that is part of its charm. I did not feel, though, it carried the book much beyond the level of a pot-boiler.

Nostalgia for the Cold War is an interesting appetite. It can be fed by this newest entry into the 007 canon.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The devil may care for this watery martini. I didn't., July 25, 2008
James Bond--or a pale imposter thereof--returns to action in the Cold War/Vietnam War era, venturing to the Middle East to take on a villain with a deformed hand who hopes to destroy England with drugs and bombs, as well as his lieutenant who has a scarred head and feels little pain. I think we've seen this one before.

The story has all the elements of a Bond tale (the villain and lieutenant, secret lair, Bond's capture and escape, and a "Bond girl" or two), but just as with an Aston Martin, all the parts have to work to enable a thrilling ride. Minor problems include the author's addiction to exotic/foreign words and info-dumps (long sequences of dialogue to give backgrounds about people or places or else to explain what actually happened after an event). (I did note that the quality of the writing dropped in the middle of the story--was the author rushing to beat a deadline?) The major problem, however, is simply the unremarkable and skimpy plot (including some fight scenes that simply strain disbelief, even for a Bond story). The novel is only 278 pages, but it contains the aforementioned info-dumps as well as the longest tennis match I've ever read about and an overly long account of Bond and his girl escaping from Russia via hitchhiking and robbery. (The girl, Scarlett, is likeable enough but borders on a male's fantasy caricature of a simultaneously empowered and submissive '60s lass. I can't even guess how many times she's called "good girl.")

Recommended as a library loan for Bond fans in need of light reading for the airport or beach. Two tarnished cufflinks.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There Are Some Definite Fleming Moments, August 4, 2009
By 
The JuRK (Our Vast, Cultural Desert) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Devil May Care (Paperback)
I haven't read any of the James Bond novels after Ian Fleming--although, as a kid, I did buy COLONEL SUN for its cool cover artwork. Never read it though. Not the Raymond Benson (read his excellent JAMES BOND BEDSIDE COMPANION though), not John Gardner.

I did reread all of Fleming's 007 books in order when the film of CASINO ROYALE came out in 2006.

So I didn't really get too excited when DEVIL MAY CARE was released. Then two things happened: I went to the Bahamas and I noticed that DEVIL MAY CARE, just out in paperback, was by Sebastian Faulks "writing as Ian Fleming." About to spend some more time in the Bahamas, the setting of so many 007 moments, and realizing that the author wasn't just writing a new James Bond adventure but would be writing a new James Bond adventure AS the original author, I picked it up.

Glancing over the other criticisms here, I can't really argue with them too much. That the villain is a major drug figure was intriguing early on but his involvement in the booming drug trade of the 1960s is quickly cast off for some doomsday plot to start World War Three. Fleming's villains were bent on world domination or mayhem but their obsessions and kinks were so intertwined that it made them truly memorable (like Auric Goldfinger). The monkey hand was a nice touch but Dr. Gorner's drug business appears to be just another tool.

But I had to smile a few times during the story. Faulks had done his homework and the novel succeeds in several chapters of making you feel like you're reading an Ian Fleming James Bond thriller. (For those who criticize this book too heavily, I ask that you recall that some of the original Bond novels had their outlandish shortcomings as well: remember Goldfinger's plot in the novel was to actually rob all the gold from Fort Knox--a plot the movie 007 dismisses in the film as impossible? Remember the killer octopus from DOCTOR NO? Remember that Americans in the novels were either Chicago mobsters or Texas cowboys--and in DIAMONDS ARE FORVER, they were Italian mobsters who dressed up as cowboys in their own private Western town!)

If you're a huge 007 fan, it's worth your time to check it out. It's probably the closest anyone will ever come to recreating Fleming's style or, as Andrew Lucett referred to it in his great biography of 007's creator, "the Fleming sweep."

I would love to read another Faulks take on Bond. Whether he succeeds or not to satisfy all the fans, he recreates enough of the style and action to make me feel like I'm revisiting an old haunt or hearing from an old friend I haven't seen in a long time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Missteps away from Fleming jar the reader, October 13, 2008
By 
Graves (Pennsylvania) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Written to celebrate the centenary of Fleming's birth the book boasts "Written in the style of Ian Fleming." Well sort of. To be fair the writer has done a wonderful job of copying Fleming's style and patter. The problem is that he is so good at it and the villain so improbable that the missteps are all the more jarring.

Set after the last novel "The Man With the Golden Gun" Bond is on leave, wounded in body and soul, trying to decide if he can return to the 00 section when he is recalled by M who doesn't care if he's got 2 weeks leave left.

Bond is set on the trail of Gorner, an Estonian pharmaceuticals magnate who is believed to also be dealing in heroin. Bond is to determine if this is true and report back to London. All that seems fair enough, Bond see's a London "gone mad" with hippies starting to appear and drug use starting to make regular news. This is not a normal style for Fleming but to be fair it was the way London was developing when he died and it is not impossible or even improbably that this is not the way he would have gone.

In style and pacing this does follow Fleming's style. When he writes about Persia in the 1960's you forget this is a 21st century writer setting down an historical piece. It seems so like Fleming when he was writing contemporary pieces. The love interests and action are developed in the same was as Fleming did and if you loved the original books this will remind you why.

That having been said, the missteps are particularly jarring because they are off the beam completely. Some are minor such as Miss Moneypenny reserving the hotel room for Bond. "A typical Moneypenny reservation" When long time readers know full well bond would select his own hotel. Certainly the senior secretary to the head of the service would not do something so trivial. Some missteps are glaring, such as suddenly breaking away from Bond's point of view to cover someone else's adventures. While common in a film it is not done in the novels of Fleming. In those, once bond is introduced, it is almost entirely from his point of view. Occasionally a comment from someone near at hand but never breaking off to change countries!

In between are small missteps that the fan of movies who never read a book would not notice but to a fan of the books has you going "No, no, no, I don't think so." The other problem is with the villain. In this we really can question the author's research. An Estonian businessman able to travel freely to the west, outside the iron curtain would of course be under the watch of the service from the start. His plan to implicate Britain in a plot against the Soviet Union to provoke a soviet counter attack, is laughable in that he has painted Union Jacks on the planes to be used and will have the pilots carrying British passports, as if that will survive the destruction of the aircraft.

If you've never read a James Bond Book this is enjoyable. If you've read and loved the books, this will be wonderfully nostalgic, but just be prepared for those missteps to break violently into the reverie. Fans can be grateful for the return of the style, but when it comes to Fleming and writing James Bond, remember, nobody does it better.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Shadows of James Bond, June 24, 2008
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
Unless you are awfully bored for a new Bond adventure, you could skip this book. It's a below-average spy story that employs some of the Bond characteristics without mastering the story telling to make it work. I would rather re-read a Bond original than read this story. But, alas, no one warned me. You have no excuse.

Although many of Ian Fleming's signature elements are present in this story (an unbalanced villain, unspeakable assistant to the villain, rigged competitions, beautiful damsels in distress, and the world's peace at stake), it's all too leisurely and gentlemanly to be a Bond adventure. This Bond doesn't even know he wants to be Bond.

The book started off in promising fashion as Bond is recalled early to face a threat and is directed to meet with Dr. Julius Gorner. Their meeting and confrontation is reasonably exciting, but after that the story goes downhill in terms of threat, excitement, and pacing. I won't bore you with any more information.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not quite Fleming, June 5, 2008
By 
D (United States) - See all my reviews
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I really give this 2 1/2 stars.
Faulks takes the most basic of Fleming plots, and does a fairly admirable job of emulating his style in creating a 'homage' to Bond. The decision to keep Bond in the 60's works fairly well.
However, the book has strange character motivations, and the villian is not much of a threat despite the hard sell, and his henchman side-kick a rip-off of Oddjob. The plots mixes Goldfinger with Moonraker and carries with it a 'twist' everyone can see coming a mile away. That twist also makes it seem like M does not completely trust Bond to do his job properly. Felix Leiter seems like he was added in late to get him in the book somewhere, he has little to do with the plot.
Despite these problems, the book is a relatively enjoyable read and seems like a real Fleming novel that was found unpublished and unpolished.
My hope for any more Bond novels: be original and not derivative. Even Fleming's novels are not this formulaic.
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Devil May Care
Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks (Paperback - May 19, 2009)
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