nick730 (nick730) wrote,

Book review: Devil May Care

There've been a couple of writers in the past licensed not to kill, but to continue the James Bond series of novels; I remember when I was a kid I enjoyed John Gardner's sequels, and often wish the movies had used his more authentic-sounding titles when they ran out of Ian Fleming ones instead of making up their own (things like Tomorrow Never Dies and Die Another Day sound like they've come up in an internet "make your own Bond title" generator.) Sebastian Faulks isn't quite following in their footsteps though as Devil May Care (I'm happy with that title btw, although it's got sod all to do with the story) is a one-off commissioned to mark the centenary of Fleming's birth. The unusual choice of such a Serious Literary WriterTM for the job is apparently because Faulks has a bit of a sideline in parodying other writers, including Fleming, which was why the estate approached him. So this is Faulks writing as Ian Fleming, and rather than updating to present-day it's set in 1964, the year of Fleming's death, so the conceit is that this is the next book in the original sequence, the one Fleming would have written next if he hadn't died.

It's a while since I read any of the original Bond novels (I got free copies of five of them from the Times ages ago so I should give them a re-read some time) but it seems as if Faulks has got the style down pat. There's Bond, mainly eating scrambled eggs but occasionally taking a break for some spying and shagging; there's a supervillain, Julius Gorner, who has a physical deformity (no spare nipple¹ this time, instead a monkey-like left hand) to match his inner nastiness; plus a racially-insensitive portrayal of a scary henchman. So, basically, as you were. The story is a mix of a drugs plot and apocalyptic peril, and I got through it quickly enough although there must have been times when my attention wandered 'cause I kept finding that Bond was trappped underwater yet again, and I had no idea how he got there. I guessed the twist at the end an'all. It's OK, basically.

¹I was going to say this is no sign of villainy, one of my exes had three nipples and he wasn't evil. But then again, he dumped me so clearly he was evil and Scaramanga was a fair and accurate representation.
Tags: books

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