Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Jeffery Deaver Channels Ian Fleming

Other authors have tried and failed but Jeffery Deaver has knocked it out of the ballpark with Carte Blanche; 007, an up to date look at Special Agent 007 (who will always be Sean Connery to me) working in a 21st century world. New enemies and new gadgets but the familiar snappy dialogue and interior musings of Bond as he takes on a false identity hoping to entrap a truly disgusting enemy, Severan Hydt, king of a waste disposal empire.

Now you may think that I'm prejudicial in favor of Deaver's perfect blend of old-style spy material a la Fleming with the new technology at Bond's disposal because of Deaver's wonderful appearance at the Southwest Florida Reading Festival a few years ago where he told us, admittedly after a few glasses of less than perfect pinot, that he had passed up the Virginia Festival of the Book in favor of our more fan-centered festival, and you'd be right.

Still, I'd be stunned and amazed if this new take on James Bond isn't parlayed into a film and what a fun film it would be. It has all the trademark elements that Bond aficionados expect. Flirtations with beautiful women, and a hint at a more serious relationship in the future, an enemy bent on the destruction of huge amounts of people simply because he has a fetish for dead bodies, and enough politically correct undercurrents to keep this reader fascinated.

Best of all, for me, is the fact that Deaver set the novel in South Africa, Cape Town mostly, and he brings the city to life while explaining to readers, without being didactic, how terribly obvious is the separation that still exists between those who live up on the hill and the workers who are down in townships grotesquely named things like "Primrose Gardens," a place where corrugated shacks with no electricity or running water pass for homes and the people are as disposable as the trash that Hydt compacts.

Toby Stephens deftly handles the reading of the audio book version that I'm listening to, not a simple task as he jumps back and forth between Bond's British upper-crust and the South African Afrikaans accent which is a cross between English, Dutch and German. I imagine the family of Ian Fleming, who chose Deaver to take on the Bond tradition, is thrilled with Carte Blanche, as fans of Fleming and Deaver should all be. Give it a whirl.

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