This topic is designed to collate mainstream James Bond fan opinion on the work of John Gardner - this time we're going to look at John Gardner's 1993 novel Never Send Flowers. In many ways, this one is the author's most experimental one since The Man From Barbarossa in 1991 and Brokenclaw in 1990. Here, James Bond is on the trail of a crazed serial killer who has struck around the globe, killing numerous high-profile figures over the course of a week. Then, he kills MI5 agent Laura March and this brings James Bond (Dr. No/LALD film style) into the equation. James Bond is portrayed much more as a police detective throughout, which is in fact in keeping with Fleming and in keeping with Gardner - see Scorpius and WLOD for further evidence of this. This is a spy thriller/serial killer novel in the style of Patricia Cornwell (who was friends with John Gardner). It features calling cards in the form of the deathly symbolism of a bleeding rose, mistaken identities, disguises, a theatre museum, a castle called Schloss Drache, the 'madman in the attic' Victorian subplot, the title also recalling the classy Bondian titles of old where DIE, DEATH or KILL were not required to refer to death and danger.
Then there are the critical points - Princess Diana and her sons as real-life targets, the use of Euro Disney as a locations and Bond's general waxing lyrical about Disney throughout. Controversial until you start reading the first chapter of Fleming's OHMSS where Bond reviews his childhood.
I'm currently writing a lengthy monograph on this experimental Gardner novel from the later Gardner term and I would really like to hear Bond fan opinions on this one. Did the experimentation that Gardner increasingly resorted to from 1990 onwards have anything to do with the fact that he was being accused of having an anachronistic secret agent character in James Bond, so-called Cold Warrior of the 1950s and 1960s revived in the 1990s and the New World Order. The reversion to a serial killer plot suggests there may be something worth exploring here!