DEVIL MAY CARE. Sebastian Faulks (writing as Ian Fleming). 2008. Doubleday.
Published to celebrate the centenary of James Bond creator Ian Fleming's birth, Devil May Care is a disappointing 007 adventure. The best of the Bond novels -- be they written by Fleming, John Gardner, or even Raymond Benson -- sort of grab hold of you and never let go, giving you that certain irresistible pleasure no Bond fan can do without, but Devil May Care -- while not without merit -- is not in the same league. It lacks the rich, descriptive prose and that certain insight of Fleming, and it doesn't quite have the edge-of-your-seat, fast-paced thrill quotient of Gardner's best books, such as Scorpius. Neither is it as detailed or workmanlike as anything by Benson. It comes off like an okay pastiche with some good scenes -- none of which are developed that well -- and nothing more.
An interesting aspect is that the book takes place during the Cold War, right after the last Fleming novel, The Man with the Golden Gun (infinitely more entertaining than this). Some of its attitudes are strictly 21st century (female double-O agents), however, while others are mired back in the sixties (traitorous, blackmailed homosexuals). Bond's antagonist in this is Dr. Julius Gorner, who has one deformed hand and despises the English, and has come up with a plot to destroy Bond's homeland. Of course there's a beautiful woman in the mix with the unlikely moniker of Scarlett Papava. Gorner is not a memorable villain like Goldfinger or some of the Gardner or Benson antagonists, and the book's climax -- incredibly -- takes place a few chapters before it should. It'll make you want to reread the Fleming and Gardner books just to get a real feel of Bond.
Verdict: Borrow it from the library if you must. **.