The Telegraph 'reviews' Carte Blanche, four stars
Jeremy Jehu of The Telegraph
reviews Jeffrey Deaver's 'Carte Blanche' the first James Bond novel to be written by an American author.
It was a bold move to invite Jeffrey Deaver to write another James Bond novel after he declared his childhood love of Fleming. There have been other Fleming impersonators, including Kingsley Amis and Sebastian Faulks, but the author of The Bone Collector is the biggest international name to take the job. He is also one of the worldâs smoothest, most devious, thriller writers â a far better craftsman than Fleming, in fact.
So could he assume Flemingâs identity rather than write another Jeffery Deaver novel only with a hero called Bond? And could he, for that matter, resist thriller publishingâs current obsession with relentless action inspired by the success of the Bourne movie franchise â and indeed Quantum Of Solace?
The answers are emphatically âYesâ. He simply knocks five decades off the ages of 007âs old posse and presents them as they were introduced in the 1950s, their distinctive characters pleasingly intact.
Rebooted here as an Afghanistan veteran, Bond is more love-lorn metrosexual than opportunist seducer but he sports a Rolex, dresses flashily and drives a Bentley Continental GT â a footballerâs car but faithful to Flemingâs 007 whose Continental was pimped beyond recognition
Hopelessly addicted to his Q Branch smartphone (an âiQPhoneâ), this ârebootedâ James Bond can barely cross a room without banging off an update to his âfollowers.â But for the Official Secrets Act, heâd be 007:Licensed To Tweet.
Yet Ian Fleming purists who agonise over each new incarnation of Bond can shake a celebratory martini and light up a Morlandâs if they dare (Deaverâs Bond doesnât: he can still drink his bodyweight, but the ciggies are history). The iQPhoneâs starring role is one of mercifully few concessions to the bookâs contemporary setting.
Deaver preserves his bookâs timeless feel by largely ignoring modern geopolitics and pitting Bond against a traditionally barking villain, a necrophiliac billionaire with a silly name. The action trots the globe with the grubby intimacy â âitâs Cape Town, but itâs a rubbish tip in Cape Townâ â of the books, not the films.
Deaver adds a series of twists that reveal a Bond with more Sherlockian intelligence than Flemingâs. But itâs his everlasting mobile battery rather than his brains that will leave many readers most envious.
Rating: * * * *
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