Thursday, June 12, 2008

DEVIL MAY CARE by Sebastian Faulks

In 1967, James Bond is called back from a medically mandated holiday to investigate Dr. Julius Gorner, a known drug manufacturer of concern to the British government. Along the way, Bond meets beautiful banker Scarlett Papava, who asks his help to rescue her sister Poppy, last seen in Gorner's company.

Tabbed to celebrate the centennial of Ian Fleming's birth, Devil May Care received more than a year of hype starting with the search for its author. Perhaps lost in the hype was the fact that several others have written Bond novels after Fleming, including Kingsley Amis, John Gardner, and Raymond Benson. The only real anticipation lay in that Benson stopped writing Bond in 2002.

Careful to mimic Fleming's writing process and style, Faulks surpasses none of the above authors' best work. The period setting is interesting, as is the look at an even more world-weary Bond not at the top of his game. In the end, though, like Indiana Jones, James Bond's formula is so well known, it's difficult to strike a balance between innovation and tradition—especially for Faulks, who signed to write only one novel.

If you're a Bond fan, you'll read Devil May Care, and if you hate it, don't worry. There's no shortage of authors to write more.


Graham Powell said...

I thought some of the Gardner novels were pretty good, especially ICEBREAKER, although I read them long, long ago so these memories are a bit hazy.

Randy Johnson said...

I always thought Benson's novels were a little closer in style to Fleming. Gardner's efforts were more literary. I always thought Bond was a spiritual cousin of the thirties/forties pulps anyway.
It's been forty years since I read Colonel Sun, so I don't remember anything other than fond memories about it. But then I was just a callow youth at the time. Those youthful memories change a lot of the time as one becomes a little more worldly.
Devil May Care is in my TBR pile, which is always unmanageably large, so I'll get to it eventually.