Friday, August 01, 2008

Devil May Care, by Sebastian Faulks

(hb; 2008)

From the inside flap:

"An Algerian drug runner is savagely executed in the desolate outskirts of Paris. This seemingly isolated event leads to the recall of Agent 007 from his sabbatical in Rome and his return to the world of intrigue and danger where he is most at home. The head of M16, M, assigns him to shadow the mysterious Dr. Julius Gorner, a power-crazed pharmaceutical magnate, whose wealth is exceeded only by his greed. Gorner has lately taken a disquieting interest in opiate derivatives, both legal and illegal, and this urgently bears looking into.

"Bond finds a willing accomplice in the shape of a glamorous Parisian named Scarlett Papava. He will need her help in a life-and-death struggle with his most dangerous adversary yet, as a chain of events threatens to lead to global catastrophe. A British airliner goes missing over Iraq. The thunder of a coming war echoes in the Middle East. And a tide of lethal narcotics threatens to engulf a Great Britain in the throes of the social upheavals of the the late sixties."


Faulks captures well the feel of an Ian Fleming 007 novel, touching thematically, structurally, or mood-wise on most, if not all of Fleming's Bond books. It's all here: the action, the grandiose-minded, esoteric villains (in this case Julius Gorner, who recalls Auric Goldfinger, and Chagrin, who calls to mind Goldfinger's Oddjob), the beautiful flirty women, and a heroine/femme fatale (who may or may not be what she seems). What transcends Faulks's work above a mere aping of Fleming's original fourteen novels is the small twists Faulks buries within the Bond template-plot tics. Not all of them are unexpected, but they are effective, providing a freshness to the familiar story-structure, while lending what I would presume to be Faulks's personal touches to the work.

The action takes place twenty-one months after the events of The Man With the Golden Gun. It's the late Sixties: the Rolling Stones have just been busted for drug possession. America is not so covertly waging early war in Vietnam, and pissed at Great Britain for not supporting its foolish (police) actions. All of these elements add to the timeliness and freshness of this hard-to-put-down book; it's Bond for a new age, and a book that should become a film, ASAP.

In the meantime, there's the upcoming film
Quantum of Solace, which opens in theaters on November 7, 2008. It takes its title from a short story of the same name in Fleming's Bond anthology, For Your Eyes Only.

An interesting note on Quantum of Solace. . . this, from "The producers and writers of Quantum of Solace have stated that the action of the film picks up 'almost an hour after the close of Casino Royale'. They have also said it will be a continuation of the story established in Casino Royale. In this way it can be regarded as a true sequel to Royale and, like that film, is separate in continuity to any of the previous Bond films to come before. While sharing the same continuity of the character, the previous Bond films were more 'stand-alone' adventures of the super spy than sequels that told one ongoing story. It is not clear how long the producers intend to continue this ret-con of Bond films in this manner, but they have already openly stated that they do not intend to re-visit or remake any of the material from the previously released series of Bond films."

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