Dawsmere, United Kingdom
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  • Carte Blanche

  • A James Bond Novel
  • By: Jeffery Deaver
  • Narrated by: Toby Stephens
  • Length: 13 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,269
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 496
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 494

Fresh from Afghanistan, James Bond has been recruited to a new agency. It operates independent of Five, Six and the MoD, with its very existence deniable. Its aim: to protect the Realm, by any means necessary. The Night Action alert calls Bond from dinner with a beautiful woman. GCHQ has decrypted an electronic whisper about an attack scheduled for later in the week. And 007 has been given carte blanche to do whatever it takes to fulfil his mission.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Ian Fleming's Bond for the 21st century

  • By Steve on 30-06-11

A must for all Fleming book fans

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-11-11

Deaver has quite clearly put a lot of thought into this first exploit of his 21st century 007. The plot is full of suspense, action, and twists, all of which made it a gripping listen – but it was the many 'upgrades' to Fleming's characters that raised a number of smiles. It's not just that gadgets have transferred to apps, or that MI6 has transferred to a new Churchill-inspired secret agency. Goodnight is still there as 007's secretary, but with an entirely new backstory, as is his housekeeper. And just when you think there is no way 007 could get out of a tricky situation, he is able to turn to a friend. If you don't know the Fleming books, you could interpret these characters as dei ex machina. But to those well-versed in 007 lore, you will kick yourself for not seeing them coming.

The character of 007 himself goes quite a bit beyond the dry mystery-solver of early books, reminding me more of the Fleming's writing from "Diamonds Are Forever" onwards (by which time he was probably being influenced by Connery's portrayal on camera). A lot of the action sequences seem more reminiscent of the films than the books. But in my opinion, Deaver always manages to hold it back – the result being that 007 is different, but more like a younger version of Fleming's original than a totally new 'hip' 007. And unlike with Craig's 007, who still seems a tad immature, you can clearly see that Deaver's will grow into Fleming's aftera few years of the job. Thus the book can easily be enjoyed by big fans of the originals or the films.

That's not to say it isn't without faults. I would have preferred a certain character to end up with a wooden leg, for instance. And the amount of twists began to get predictable, so that by the end I could successfully guess (a) that it wasn't over yet, and (b) that 007 had already put a plan into action. But the writing is fast-paced and witty, and made you want to find out what would happen to the characters as well as the plot. Hence still 5 stars.

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