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Bond is on the loose in South Africa with 'Carte Blanche' (spoilers)

03-Jun-2011 • Literary

Much stealth and secrecy characterised the simultaneous international launches of Carte Blanche, the new James Bond novel written by American thriller king Jeffery Deaver. In Cape Town there was special interest, as it turns out that more than half of the novel is set in the city, reports Times Live.

Of course, Bond being your archetypal colonial tourist, his idea of Cape Town is a mix of strange ideas and blatant advertorial that creates a place of fine hotels, wines and beautiful women with fiery eyes who work for the SAPS. There are name-drops for several wineries and a thinly disguised version of the Cape Grace Hotel, renamed the Table Mountain Hotel.

Upon arrival at the airport in Cape Town, Bond is greeted by the sight of people in "traditional African garb: men's dashikis and brocade sets and, for the women, kente kaftans and head wraps, all brightly coloured. Muslim robes and scarves were present as well, and a few saris". Following this colourful retinue, 007 has the chance to ruminate on the fascinating clicks in African languages: "Khoisan - spoken by the original inhabitants of this part of Africa - made the most use of it, although Zulus and Xhosas also clicked. Bond had tried and found it impossible to replicate."

This confusion leads Bond to surmise, throughout his stay in Cape Town, that when anyone speaks in an African language, it's either "Zulu or Xhosa". He never manages to tell them apart.

He's helped on the SA leg of his hunt for international terrorists by the sensual, fiery-eyed Captain Bheka Jordaan and her colleagues, Warrant Officer Kwelane Nkosi and Sergeant Mbalula. Stepping into the jewellers at the Gardens Centre, Bond, following the advice of his SAPS friends, swaps his Rolex for a gaudier Breitling in an effort to help cement his undercover identity as an Afrikaner mercenary from Durban named Gene Theron.

Ready for action, the intrepid, square-jawed secret agent stays at the Table Mountain Hotel, a six-storey building in Green Point, "which could not quite disguise its colonial roots - though it didn't try very hard; you could see them clearly in the meticulous landscaping presently being tended by a number of diligent workers, the delicate but firm reminder on placards about the dining-room dress code, the spotless white uniforms of the demure, ever-present staff, the rattan furniture on the sweeping veranda overlooking the bay".

At a fundraising dinner at the less-than-impressive Lodge Club, Bond meets Felicity Willing (she jokes that at university she was nicknamed Felicity Willful), who he takes to dinner over a bottle of Rustenberg Peter Barlow Cabernet 2005 before taking her to bed at the Table Mountain Hotel. Miss Willing invites Bond to spend a weekend with her at an inn in Franschhoek boasting a Michelin-star-rated restaurant, but things go awry and Winelands 007 never materialises.

Later in the book, after an encounter in the Bo-Kaap with a Zulu, where he learns the meaning of the term Ugogo and is offered bobotie and Zulu beer, Bond stops at an eatery where he feasts on sosaties, yellow rice and morogo, but declines the offer of mopani worms. He does, however, manage to consume a bottle of Three Cape Ladies before a final shoot-out on the Twelve Apostles ridge and one last glass of Graham Beck Cuvée Clive sparkling wine in the company of Captain Jordaan, who remains to the end immune to his charms.

And as Bond learns that khotso means "peace" and wonders if he'll ever settle down, Cape Town and the world bid him and his Rolex farewell on a United Emirates first-class flight to his next, as yet unknown, destination.

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