Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Devil May Care (2008)

This book was published as a celebration of sorts for Ian Fleming's 100th birthday. It was clear why Sebastian Faulks was picked to write this book. He's an acclaimed thriller writer, but more importantly, the guy is a master parodist. This is a spot-on copy of Fleming's style, right down to the casual racism and the fixation on every meal. Not only that but this book picks up in the late sixties, supposedly taking place immediately after the final Bond novel, The Man With the Golden Gun. And it's not a bad book exactly, but it's not really good either. One of the problems is that it is trying so hard to be a Bond book, and to cover every trope and cliche, that it never seems to breathe at all. Even Fleming was frequently willing to throw monkey wrenches into his own formula. Devil May Care is just one familiar Bond scene after another. The master criminal has a physical deformity, plus a seemingly unbeatable sidekick. Bond first beats the antagonist at a game (in this case, tennis). Bond is captured and not immediately killed. Etcetera. It's also a repulsively violent novel which is in keeping with Fleming's style, but really, some of the stuff that Chagrin gets up to (Chagrin is the "oriental" sidekick) is truly disgusting.

So I didn't really like it but I will say this. Why don't the producers of the Bond films look to some of these books for the movie plots? This wasn't a great book but it was a lot better than any of the original plots that were written for the Brosnan films, or for Quantum of Solace. It even has a decent title. The other book they should consider making is Kingsley Amis' stab at the Bond thriller, called Colonel Sun. Again, not a great book, but a whole lot better than any of the original ideas in the film series.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I just read this book and like you whilst I couldn't say it was rubbish, it really didn't ignite a spark. You make an interesting point about the film makers maybe taking a look at some of these new books for inspiration. Why not? And yeah, I was disappointed by the story the first time I watched Quantum of Solace. But I must say that I like Craig as Bond. Really looking forward to the new film. Let's hope they don't blow it!