As thriller fans know, there are a lot of books out there, but only a few classics. Some will cite The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan of The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers, while others will point to The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré, The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum, or First Blood by David Morrell. Then there are the authors attached to thriller fiction that are on every fans must read list, be they the above mentioned or others, such as Matthew Reilly, Michael Crichton, or James Patterson. But when it comes to characters, there are few that can come even close to James Bond. From Ian Fleming, through all of the authors who continued Bond’s story after Fleming’s death, to today, 007 reigns supreme in both film and fiction. Which means, among other things, this thriller fan needed to get his act together and finally read a James Bond novel.
The timing was perfect, as the newest Bond novel is out on the shelves. Sebastian Faulks has taken the mantel as the latest in a long line of authors writing as Ian Fleming and producing new tales of 007. In his latest, Devil May Care, we are introduced to an older James Bond, who may be losing his edge. Following the murder of an Algerian drug smuggler, Bond is recalled from his mandatory vacation, during which he was to decide his future as 007, to investigate the matter. The drugs link back to a pharmaceutical giant, who is more than he seems.
As Bond tracks this man down, he also is wrapped into the web of Scarlett Papava, who wants to find the same man as Bond to rescue her sister, Poppy. As the tale travels from London to Paris to Tehran, she follows along with Bond in his search for the man who wants to bring down Britain by undermining its youth with drugs. Bond meets up with colleagues from both Persia and the USA, and goes all out to track down his culprit.
Written very fast paced and engagingly, Devil May Care flies by, with James Bond alternating between running, shooting, and the occasional down moment when he is left to ponder the mysteries surrounding Scarlett. Faulks does a brilliant job of making James Bond, a larger than life icon, into a very human character, who has both attributes and faults. All of the characters feel very realistic, and the setting is spot on, as Faulks never once misses a beat of working in the era of pre-American involvement in Vietnam. From the guns to the cars, no detail is off. Faulks even manages to make a play by play of a tennis match exciting to read.
Perfect as a summer beach read, this novel reads quick and is fun at every moment, never dragging for a second. As thrillers come, there are not many out today that can be as consistently entertaining as Devil May Care. He may have a few years on him, but James Bond is back, and better than ever.