“ Author: Jeffrey Deaver / Genre: Crime/Thriller / Narrated by: Toby Stephens „
Carte Blanche by Jeffrey Deaver == Plot == James Bond is recruited into a new agency, created post 9/11 and 7/7. It is separate from MI5, MI6 or the MOD. It is free from the constraints of oversight, giving plausible deniability to the politicians. Their mission is to protect the realm by any means necessary. British intelligence picks up some electronic chatter that there is an attack planned for later on in the week which will result in thousands of deaths. Bond has to find out who is behind it and stop it from taking place. He is given carte blanche . . . == My thoughts == This is the latest Bond novel as of this writing (2011). It is written in the third person. I was looking forward to listening to this as this is the first Bond novel written by Jeffrey Deaver. Before him, Raymond Benson wrote several including 'Tomorrow Never Dies'. The original Bond novels written by Ian Flemming are some of my favourite, but many of the proceeding novels that have been penned by other authors over the years, always seem to have a slightly wooden quality to them. They seem to try too hard to be a movie script instead of a novel. I had high hopes when I initially listened to the first few chapters. Bond's background is different in this than Ian Flemming's novels or the latter ones' by John Gardner and Raymond Benson. He is not working and has never worked for MI6 in this. He works for an organisation known as the Overseas Development Group. They work closely with MI6 though. They get intelligence from MI6 and the other intelligence agencies and then act on it. I think this change is for the better. The new agency he works for is like the SOE (Special Operations Executive) that was created during the Second World War. It has given the author some leeway in changing his surroundings which were starting to become stale. Also, with the mention of MI6 and MI5 in the news over the torture allegations, it seems like a good time to separate Bond into a different organisation that has a bit more freedom. The author writes in a grittier style compared to other authors who have written Bond novels in the past, with Bond no longer performing great action sequences or killing dozens of bad guys at the drop of a hat. Bond's personality now has a cautious and sensitive edge to it. He doesn't go in guns blazing and there's an instance in the book when he has the chance to bed a lady but he refuses. The real Bond wouldn't say no. He felt like an imposter. In some of the novels written by other authors, Bond can come across as being a bit cartoonish and over the top, but in Flemming's original novels, Bond was more serious but he had no problem in killing bad guys and coming across as being a cool old-fashioned gentleman. In this, he comes across as a gentleWoman instead of a gentleman. I also didn't like the fact their wasn't much action and what there was, wasn't choreographed in any detail. Considering the length of the novel, I would have expected more action sequences. There are not many in this and the ones there are, didn't hold my attention. He only kills one person in the whole audio book, (which is more than 13 hours long). He seems to have developed a more feminine side as he tries to wound bad guys, whenever he shoots at them, instead of just killing them. This irritated me a lot, as he is supposed to have a licence to kill and have no qualms about killing. I like Flemming's original novels mainly because they were short and snappy. They had simple plots, but they were fast paced, whereas this just meanders along at a snails pace. It could have been trimmed down significantly. The plot isn't special. It is set over a week as Bond chases after the bad guys from place to place. It is predictable for the most part. I wouldn't have minded this if Bond had been more action-oriented and the other characters more likable. None of the characters are memorable. That includes Bond. He spends more time playing around with his souped up Iphone rather than womanising. The author drops in Bond's regular allies like Mary Goodnight, Moneypenny, Matiss (his French intelligence friend), and Phelix Lighter (his CIA buddy). However, He mentions most of them in passing and then moves onto something else. We get to meet the bad guys early on. They didn't seem dangerous considering Bond's skills. One of the main villains owns a recycling business, so I got to find out all about various waste and how it gets collected and recycled. This is a good metephore for the novel itself - it recycles elements of the Bond franchise but ultimately it is still rubbish. The author didn't manage to meld his writing style with that of Flemming and his characters. It felt like Deaver was writing a crime novel and just threw in Bond and the things that make him what he is like fast cars, good food and a few beautiful women. He doesn't manage to mix them all together into a top-notch thriller. There is no action, no suspense or tension. It is very bland and unappetising. == Audio narration == This was narrated by Toby Stephens. He has a British accent. He read it in a sombre tone. I thought this matched the tone of the story, although, I found his voice boring. I found it difficult to go back and continue listening to this. The only reason I finished listening to it was for this review. The only thing I liked, was the way the voice was slightly distorted whenever one of the characters was on the other end of the phone talking to Bond. This was unabridged and was 13 hours and 35 mins in length. == Summary and recommendation == I give this one star. I thought it was rubbish. The author squandered a chance to reboot James Bond into the 21st century whilst still keeping his ruthless asskicking personality. He fails. He should have changed James name to Jane Bond. The plot drivels along at a snails pace. He mentions all the main allies of Bond in passing, wasting an opportunity to let us see them take a more pivotal role in the novel. It is too long, there are no complicated action set-pieces and it is littered with forgettable characters. this has gone straight into my recycle bin.