Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

SOLO -- A James Bond Novel

SOLO. A James Bond novel. William Boyd. HarperCollins; 2013.

The year is 1969 and James Bond's boss, "M," asks 007 to intercede in a civil war going on in a small West African nation, Zanzarin. Oil has been found on one tribe's land, and said tribe decides to secede instead of sharing the bounty with the entire country. The head of this new nation of Duham is Solomon Adeka, who might have to be "taken care of" because Duham is now seen as a threat to certain oil interests. Portraying a journalist, Bond infiltrates Duham with the help of a pretty agent named Blessing Ogilvy-Grant, and encounters the vicious mercenary Kobus Breed and a millionaire philanthropist named Hulbert Linck who is using his money to bring arms and more mercenaries into Duham to fight against Zanzarin forces. Betrayed by familiar faces and nearly killed, Bond winds up in Washington, D.C., on an unsanctioned (or "solo" mission) where he re-encounters some of the Duhami players as well as Felix Leiter of the CIA, and comes face to face with hard and cold facts of war and oil. Solo is a more serious and sobering James Bond novel than usual, with less of the more flamboyant aspects of the 007 books written by Ian Fleming and John Gardner. Suspenseful and intriguing, the only flaw in Solo is that there is no really memorable villain for Bond to match wits with, as Kobus Breed is a merely an especially nasty underling. Still, this is a solid, entertaining Bond book. A questionable aspect of the book is how an agent of Bond's ability can be taken by surprise -- by a group of men, no less -- sneaking up on him on more than one occasion.

Verdict: Solid 007. ***.

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