two-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
36-Sept-Oct-2008
user_rating: 
0
Award Year: 
0

A-Devil May CareCommissioned by Ian Fleming’s estate to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth, this new James Bond adventure picks up where Fleming’s The Man with the Golden Gun (1965) leaves off. Faulks is the award-winning British author of Birdsong, Charlotte Gray, and Engleby.

The Story: In 1967, after three months’ forced medical leave resulting from his exploits in The Man with the Golden Gun, a slightly rusty James Bond is called back to London by his boss, M, who sends him to Paris to investigate the megalomaniacal Dr. Julius Gorner, a Russian pharmaceutical mogul suspected of drug trafficking. Aided by Parisian beauty Scarlett Papava, whose sister is being held captive by Gorner, Bond races across Europe to Tehran. There, Gorner and his Viet Cong sidekick Chagrin plot to flood Great Britain with cheap heroin, reducing it to a nation of drug addicts, while orchestrating World War III.
Doubleday. 304 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0385524285

Houston Chronicle 4 of 5 Stars
"[Faulks] produced a book true to the spirit of the originals, in prose that’s ‘about 80 percent Fleming.’ … It’s first-rate entertainment, fine company for a couple of summer afternoons." Fritz Lanham

New York Times 2.5 of 5 Stars
"… a serviceable madeleine for Bond nostalgists and a decent replica of past Bond escapades. But if you didn’t pick up Devil May Care convinced that Bond was an enduring pop-cultural landmark, you would not come away with that conclusion." Janet Maslin

NY Times Book Review 2.5 of 5 Stars
"The scenery-chewing bad guys are among the highlights of Devil May Care, harking back to the equally over-the-top villains who’ve appeared in the Bond movies over the decades. In comparison, Bond sometimes barely registers on the page." Alex Berenson

Los Angeles Times 2 of 5 Stars
"Devil May Care … though competently enough constructed, belongs more to the cinematic Bond tradition than to the one Fleming tapped out on his Remington. … It’s all likely enough in an undemanding sort of way, but it compares with the real thing in about the way a sour apple martini compares with the proper cocktail, shaken not stirred." Timothy Rutten

Philadelphia Inquirer 2 of 5 Stars
"Faulks said he wrote the novel in the ‘lighthearted and cavalier’ Fleming style, but although Fleming wrote unabashedly for entertainment, he was a serious craftsman and his thrillers were dark and complex. … Devil May Care lacks Fleming’s pacing and punch, and Faulks lacks Fleming’s ability to spark the reader’s interest and imagination in new and exotic places, people and things." Paul Davis

Critical Summary

Though several critics questioned the Fleming estate’s choice of author, literary novelist Sebastian Faulks does a passable job of mimicking the master and his straightforward, action-packed style. Bond, the unapologetic playboy and quintessential secret agent, still relies on wit, charm, and quick reflexes to carry the day. Bond enthusiasts will encounter old friends like M and Moneypenny, and new characters will seem strangely familiar, having been closely modeled on Fleming’s former creations. However, Faulks has made some changes. He has eliminated most of the sexual romps, one-liners, gadgets, and campy fun that made Fleming’s novels so entertaining to many, while sidestepping the depth and characterizations that made them satisfying. Fleming’s fans will have mixed reactions to Faulks’s vision, and newcomers may want to start with the original.

First in the Series

A-Casino RoyaleCasino Royale | Ian Fleming (1953): In Fleming’s literary debut, Agent 007 is sent to a casino in the French Riviera. His mission: to defeat Soviet operative Le Chiffre at the gaming table before he can recoup the money he embezzled from SMERSH, the Soviet Secret Service.