Friday, October 10, 2008

"Devil May Care" by Sebastian Faulks

The back cover of the book is ominous in its simplicity:

“Come in, 007,” said M. “Good to see you back.”

The tone for a new James Bond thriller has been set.

For long have fans of the world-famous British spy waited for their hero to return to the written world. From Roger Moore to Timothy Dalton, from Pierce Brosnan to now Daniel Craig, James Bond has evolved on screen, but the legend, one must be reminded, was born when one Mr. Ian Fleming put words to paper.

‘Devil May Care’, written by Sebastian Faulks, was released on May 28, 2008 to coincide with Ian Fleming’s birth centenary. One must appreciate the tremendous task that lay ahead of Mr. Faulks. He needed to recreate the magic with which Fleming kept the world captivated. James Bond, after all, is not just a British icon. His fame has spread across the world; half the world’s population has seen at least one James Bond film; his debonair lifestyle is the kind that schoolboys dream of (not to mention the older boys); his skills with members of the opposite sex are legendary. In Ian Fleming’s words, Faulks had to write “the spy story to end all spy stories”. Thankfully, Faulks does justice.

‘Devil May Care’ takes the reader back into the throes of the Cold War. Bond is beginning to have doubts about whether he is still good enough to be in active service or whether he should call it a day and push papers and files from behind a desk. However, he is pleasantly called out of a 3 month “sabbatical” by M.

The world has a new enemy in the form of the sinister Dr. Julius Gorner. An intellectual genius and a former Nazi and Soviet supporter, Dr. Gorner has deadly plans aimed against the British. His operations are embedded deep in Persia. Also, no Bond villain is complete without an evil henchman. Dr. Gorner has the services of Chagrin, an old Vietnam hand who gets his sadistic pleasure from ripping out people’s tongues while they are still alive.

Bond, however, is not alone in his mission to destroy Gorner. He is assisted by the beautiful and mysterious Scarlett, a banker who has her own personal agenda against Gorner. Also making a cameo in the book is Bond’s old CIA friend, Felix Leiter.

The book traces Bond’s exploits through dapper gentleman clubs in London, through Parisian street cafés, through steamy and luxurious bath lounges of Turkey and also through dusty, frontier towns in Persia. The action is non-stop and good old-school style where fists and intelligence matter more than gadgets.

For those who relish adventure novels, this is a must buy. James Bond fans, I’m sure, need not be persuaded much. To them, this book would be like the famous Martini that Bond would never say ‘no’ to.

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