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FRWL is up next and i hope its AT least as good as DAF i dont want this downward trend to continue
And nice to see a familiar face pop up in the end....
FAO saunders- entirely agree with your comments about the two novels by Woods... a crying shame he did not continue....
Although I've got all three of the Monneypenny Diaries I've found them hard going and despite two valiant attempts I've never got further than about half way through the second book, but now you've got me intrigued with this 'familiar face' I'm going to have to buckle down and have another crack at them.
I've just finished reading John Gardner's penultimate Bond novel 'Seafire' and while it frimley belongs in the weaker second half of novels written in his tenure, it's probably one of the less weak. Things I liked were that the story though containing many elements Gardner readers will be familiar with at least the story flows well and the action concentrates around Bond rather than secondry characters and there are thankfully not two many double crossing characters in this story (a plot device ludicrously overused by Mr Gardner!), also the welcome, if rather short appearance by old friend Felix Leiter. The location are also well chosen and feel suitably Bondian and plenty of action to please the cinematic Bond fans. Things I didn't like are Bonds new fiance and co-agent Flicka (how long before she tragically dies, I wonder?) and Bonds new position of running Microglobe1 a deniable government agency. I appreciate John Gardner is trying to experiment with the formula (just as Fleming did) but combined with his lack of being able to handle descriptive writing (the Fleming sweep) these changes just make the book seem less and less like a Bond novel. If your new to Gardner Bond novels, there are many far better attempts he has managed and this is probably one best left for the completest only!
I know a lot of people out there really out with me on the Moneypenny stuff, but for me it gets bonus points for bringing a new angle to the world of Bond.
Would love to have seen a spin off from Mr Tanner's perspective...
Definitely, I had high hopes for this great character after his larger role in the Kingsley Amis book 'Colonel Sun' and then in John Gardner's first book 'Icebreaker' as he had an extended cameo when he accompanies Bond to the villains liar towards the end of the book, but since then not much has been done with him (though he did have an extended cameo in Raymond Benson's 'High Time To Kill') and he certinally deserves his own spin-off set of books. Have you read Colonel William Tanner's 'Book Of Bond' (Actually written by Kingsley Amis again), though really more an extended essay on Bond's character, at least it's nice to see his name in print.
Funny you should mention 'Colonel Sun'- that's my train read from today! Always enjoyed it... sadly it has a very bad rep in some circles, which I've never fully understood....
When I first read Colonel Sun I felt it was really good and certinally Kingsley Amis has got the closest to the 'Fleming sweep' style of writing, but recentley I reread it and found myself getting frustrated at how much Amis was influencing his Bond with his own social and political views that differ greatly from both Fleming's own and that of his literary creations. Ian Fleming's wife Ann was horrified that Kingsley Amis was writing a continuation novel and a newspaper review she wrote of it has never been published for fear of liable (I would love to read a copy!) and I guess this is where the majority of the book's poor reputation has stemmed from.
While I consider it probably the best and most faithful of the continuation books it's still far from perfect, though who knows maybe if Amis had done a couple more he may of found his stride.
Not a great read and it was propably for the best that this was Gardner's final Bond effort.
I have read many different reports of the years explain the possible reasons for the decline of Gardners work: his health problems, his wife's cancer, disinterest in writing a character that wasn't 'his'....
So what next for you Mr Saunders? March onwards into Benson perhaps?
But your right The_Preacher711, I must start reading them again, who knows after all these years I may actually be able to start to appreciate and respect the efforts of Mr Raymond Benson (spit!).
In the meantime as I haven't been reading Gardner's work in sequence I'll just settle for his 'Never Send Flowers'.
Benson..... Mmmmm..... not a fan myself..... sadly the completionist in me forced me to get them..... and each time he announced a new one, that little voice in your head told you 'maybe this one will be rally good!' - while you secretly new it would just be more dross.....
As you say, it's that whole 'which Bond is he trying to write?' thing.... think the answer is Benson's Own Brand Bond- with added Americana...... I think that may be the most comedy line you've ever written.....
Blimey, well maybe he's served a useful purpose after all!
Thank you sincerely Mr Raymond Benson...(spit!):)
He was talking about how he'd studied Fleming extensively and had worked hard to 'modernise and improve upon Flemings prose' (I'm pretty sure that's an exact quote- always stuck in my mind).....
He's quite able to highlight the pros and cons of the books of the previous books (as most of us could).
Give him the opportunity to write, and he does what most of us would probably end up doing: creates a mish-mash of every Bondism possible.
The book tries make this Bond a blend of traditional secret agent mixed with a mystery detective, or as Bond himself suggests "A hard boiled private dick". But by this stage of Gardner's tenure Bond is almost unrecognisable as Fleming's hero spending much of his time quoting poetry and literary references, as can also be said of Gardner's version of M who is much more of a friendly, avuncular character than Fleming ever suggested. Bond even gets scared and shaken after simply reading a report about a victim's brother who although long dead was once a serial killer...really our brave, courageous 007 getting scared by that! In fact he's so upset by this he even resorts to alcohol, but of course being Gardner's Bond, he doesn't knock back a couple of strong vodka martini's or a few quarts of 'Old Grandad' bourbon, no this Bond makes do with a single miniature bottle of spirits before suggesting retiring to bed for an early night, and as if that wasn't enough he even drinks tea in this story, a brew that Fleming's Bond would never touch!
The plot is awkward and doesn't really hold together either as a thriller or a detective story and many of the supporting characters are very weak, not least Bond's romantic interest Flicka. This is made worse by the fact that clearly Gardner is setting her up in the role of the next big love of Bond's life.
The last few chapters of this story are more of a Disney advertisement than a Bond story and Gardner seems to be more keen on endorsing the theme parks than actually injecting the story with any real tension or drama.
Don't get me wrong I like many of John Gardner's books but having just read three of his lesser attempts in a row I'm in need of a change so I'm going to read 'The Devil May Care' next.