Captured, beaten, but not stirred–welcome back, Mr Bond

Last Updated: Tue, Jul 15, 2008 12:38 hrs

Devil May Care
By Sebastian Faulks (writing as Ian Fleming)
Published by: Penguin
Cost: Rs 395
Pages: 295

It packs in everything. The guns, the girl, the goons and the Russians. It's also a tour to some of the world's most exotic locations, tasting the best of what they offer for supper and suffering the worst of what they can offer Mr Bond–who is not quite welcome anywhere.

There is the quintessential Bond bad guy, whose ego is surpassed in size only by his plan to take over the world–and destroy Britain; and the damsel in distress who turns out to be not quite what she seems to be. It's all twisted, turned, maniacal, sexy and so Bond.

Author Sebastian Faulks turns back the clock and takes the secret agent to Britain in the 60s. The Cold War is at its hottest and Bond is seldom out of work in the '00' department. A couple of pages are lost before the mood sets in and the James Bond fan in you wakes up only after M makes the first mention of the villain. Why the dilly-dally Mr Faulks?

Enter Dr Julius Gorner. The man hates Britain and 'wishes to flood the nation's streets with drugs thereby rendering the youth to waste and ruining the culture that he thoroughly despises'. If that sounded simple then wait till Gorner commences the traditional villain's explanatory monologue.

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Too impatient to wait until the drugs have taken effect on millions (and because it's such a boring plan), Gorner chalks out a large-scale nuclear assault on Russia–hoping for a counter attack that will vaporise the British. Throw in an overtly elaborate HQ, a not so subtle secret base (and plan) and a bunch of hostile intelligence agencies trying to thwart Bond and his efforts–and you have the plot. Where Faulks takes over is Bond's rebirth in print.

We have a Bond who is real, shaken by emotions and made stronger only because of his training as a spy. The invulnerable superhero feel has been done away with and Devil May Care could even give you the taste of blood in the mouth. It's pacy and tuned to the right volume of action and is an incredibly good read. From Paris to the Urals, here is a book that's actually a wish-you-were-here postcard.

James Bond has witnessed a revival of sorts since Daniel Craig's Casino Royale. If the movie was one for the box office, then the book is definitely heading toward bookshelves worldwide.