A seasoned veteran of the service, 007 is sent to single-handedly stop a civil war in the small West African nation of Zanzarim. Aided by a beautiful accomplice and hindered by the local militia, he undergoes a scarring experience which compels him to ignore M's orders in pursuit of his own brand of justice. Bond's renegade action leads him to Washington, D.C., where he discovers a web of geopolitical intrigue and witnesses fresh horrors.
Reviewed on 2nd October 2013
William Boyd's entry in the James Bond series is likely to appeal to two groups - fans of Ian Fleming's original literary works about the British secret agent, and fans of the cinematic escapades based on the same character. My immediate feeling was that neither would be satisfied, but actually I found it to be a good Fleming-esque read.
The story is set in 1969, following the original Bond canon and disregarding the many novels written by other 'continuation' authors since then. This felt a much better decision than that of Jeffrey Deaver, the last author to tackle Bond, who rebooted the series into the 21st Century.
Bond, a character quite recognisable to a reader of the Fleming originals, is sent by M to an African country to stop its civil war, and from there things spiral in a complex and unpredictable manner. The plot felt, particularly in the first half, like it was following well the Fleming style, but then Boyd pours on layers of complexity - probably too many - which makes the end of the novel awkward and anticlimactic.
For the most part though I think that Boyd has managed to capture the James Bond spirit without turning it into parody. A Bond novel that I think can appeal to both fans of the literature and cinema adventures.