Book Review: Carte Blanche

I was at first intrigued by the choice of having Jeffery Deaver to write the next James Bond novel. It partly ascribed to the fact that Deaver, who has written the famous Lincoln Rhyme and Kathryn Dance series, has a very distinctive 'psychological' touch when dealing with thrillers. And here I was, wondering if such elements would play a part in this 007 instalment. I wasn't disappointed to say the least; think about a necrophilic lunatic!

In Carte Blanche, Deaver has married the best of two worlds: his and Bond's. The agent's use of modern gadgetry to spy on criminals shows a coming of age Bond in the 21st century while incorporating all the essential ingredients of a trademark Bond novel: colossal stakes, cars, beautiful women and what not. Bond's mission to prevent a large scale human carnage and his carte blanche (read full freedom) to achieve the goal packs in enough twists and red-herrings to keep you hooked to the book till the end.

Yet a few flaws persist. The book seems a bit long and the narrative gets tedious midway, but thankfully things get better, if only in parts, as it progresses. Another involves the situations Bond endangers himself. At first you are excited, but then they turn out to be empty thrills as Bond has already envisaged them (we come to know of these as explanations post those eventualities).

Finally coming to the inevitable, Deaver's Bond who is in his thirties and drives around a Bentley is calculative, prudent, fearless and as resourceful as ever, even if it's a little toned down, bland version, if I may say. I was expecting him to be more ruthless and hard-boiled (like Daniel Craig's in the movie version).

All said, Deaver had an uphill task ahead of him when he took up this challenge of writing the new Bond sequel. He has a clear winner here. It's one of the best thrillers that I have read in recent times. Bond or standalone, it works as both in its own way. That's quite an achievement!