The title and cover artwork were unveiled on 17 January , at a special launch event at the InterContinental Hotel in Dubai. Carte Blanche updates James Bond's backstory to fit with the 21st century setting. Set in mid, the story takes place over the course of a week. He starts his assignment on the outskirts of Novi Sad in Serbia where an Irish sapper -turned-enforcer named Niall Dunne is planning to derail a train carrying three hundred kilograms of methyl isocyanate , dumping it into the Danube.
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Aaah Bond, you're back. We've missed you. Fans of had been left high and dry in recent years, with MGM's financial troubles putting the production of the latest cinematic outing by Daniel Craig on hold, and without any new novels since Ian Fleming Publications Ltd authorised the publication of Sebastian Faulks's spin in the Bondmobile, Devil May Care.
Despite Devil May Care becoming the publisher's fastest selling hardback title ever, the reins have since been handed to the Chicago-born US thriller writer Jeffery Deaver. With 27 novels and 20 million book sales under his belt, there's no questioning Deaver's mass-market appeal, but would his Bond feel like the spy we know and love?
Bond is, after all, the most British of heroes, despite his unnerving capacity to regenerate in different eras more proficiently than the Doctor himself. The new novel's opening pages suggest that a classic Bond is with us once again.
There is a Serbian train derailment and is on the scene and at the centre of the action — and still home in time for three and a half hours sleep before his alarm wakes him in his Chelsea mews.
What follows is a borderline pastiche of the "dashing spy has breakfast" scene. More reminiscent of Len Deighton's Ipcress File coffee and eggs scene — and Michael Caine's interpretation of it — the text is suddenly awash with premium brands.
Seven on one page. The heart sinks and the stomach churns at the memory of the Bond movies' ever-increasing corporate sponsorship. Is this where we're heading? Mercifully, no. Because, while Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme thrillers provide an almost forensic street-by-street description of New York your reviewer may have got out Google Maps while reading them, on occasion , Deaver's London feels just as real. As Bond's Bentley eases its way along the gentrified streets of Marylebone or the bleak expanses of the Docklands, the reader relaxes, in safe hands.
Other must-haves are in place within the first pages: Bond's colleague is the enticingly named Ophelia Maidenstone, and Mary Goodnight last seen played by Britt Ekland in The Man With the Golden Gun appears, allowing for a quick "Good morning, Goodnight" exchange. And — praise be! In a world in which most spying is done by people in comfy shoes staring at computer screens, Deaver has done his readers proud by coming up with Q's latest creation: the iQphone. Yes, Bond is addicted to his smart phone full of apps just as much as the rest of us.
And Jack Bauer could but dream of some of the toys Bond produces later in the narrative. Crucially, the novel proves itself worthy of the logo on its spine by presenting us with one of the most bone-chillingly creepy bad guys in history.
Deaver's novels are rarely lacking in killers with repulsive traits, and Bond has faced some of the most deranged men in popular culture, but Severan Hydt is more haunting than most. A billionaire with a fortune made in waste management, his profession suggests an oily mafia don. But Hydt's job description is no wise guy alias: he actually is in waste management, and not for the money. He does it because he loves it.
He's a man fascinated by decay in all its forms. This passion extends to his girlfriend: a once beautiful, now corpse-like former pageant winner who is not permitted by Hydt to wear make up, lest it conceal the visible signs of her ageing. As he strokes one of his long, yellowing fingernails across her ashen face, it is hard to imagine he could be more repellent All this might sound insufferable, ludicrous even, if you're a reader now used to laconic Scandinavian detectives and humorous Harlan Coben heroes.
Which is where Deaver's immaculate sense of pace comes into its own. While giving Bond fans enough of the trinkets they deserve in an official novel, he also keeps the narrative pacey throughout and still allows our hero a few crucial moments of modern self-reflection. One minute Bond is blasting himself out of a waste disposal site that is rapidly filling with rubble, the next he is upbraiding himself for comparing his colleague's good looks to those of a Miss Felicity Willing.
While he's far from metrosexual, Deaver's Bond has shed some of his more psychopathic traits. It's hard to imagine anyone not being impressed by this novel The Carte Blanche. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists? Start your Independent Premium subscription today. Independent Premium Comments can be posted by members of our membership scheme, Independent Premium.
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T o write a new James Bond novel: dream job or poisoned chalice? The prospect of those millions of fans looking over your shoulder, nit-picking at every potential failure of tone or detail, must daunt even the most ardent admirer of Ian Fleming's urbane hero. Sebastian Faulks, the last contemporary writer to receive the imprimatur of the Fleming estate for an adult Bond novel, took a lot of flak on fan sites for his addition to the canon, Devil May Care. There was a suspicion that the highly regarded literary novelist viewed this excursion into genre as slumming it, and that the resulting book was little more than an exercise in pastiche. The Fleming estate has perhaps decided to avoid any such criticism this time around by commissioning veteran thriller writer Jeffery Deaver, who unwittingly revealed his credentials when he spoke warmly of his admiration for Bond's creator after winning the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger award in
Carte Blanche (2011)
In Carte Blanche, Bond has been deftly updated to fit with the 21st century setting, making it the first ever reboot of the literary James Bond series. Jeffery Deaver has stated that his James Bond will have been born in the earlys, making him a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan Operation Herrick and Iraq instead of a World War II veteran and Cold War secret agent as originally conceived by creator Ian Fleming. As part of his latest assignment, travels to an assortment of exotic modern locations - including his first visit to Dubai. Part of the nonstop suspense in the novel is the looming question of what is acceptable in matters of national and international security. Are there lines that even James Bond should not cross?
Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver – review