John Gardner was the first author to write Bond books following the death of Ian Fleming, with the exception of Kingsley Amis, who published Colonel Sun under the pseudonym Robert Markham back in the 1960s.
Gardner is responsible for ten or so Bond novels which are original stories, which vary from the brilliant and Fleming-like 'Role of Honour' to the yawnsome 'The Man from Barbarossa'. It was with uncertainty that I started reading Licence To Kill - firstly because I have only vague memories of the film starring Timothy Dalton, and secondly because Gardner's canon of Bond works has been so hit and miss. Unfortunately I was right to be uncertain, as this is certainly the weakest Gardner book that I have read.
Maybe because this is essentially 'the novel of the film', the book justs seem to be a series of setpieces with little hanging between them, and the characterisation that is so evident in Fleming's novels and some of the other Gardner novels is just completely absent. Bond is reduced to a two-dimensional character with few plus points (and even fewer novels), and the storyline is just completely unconvincing. There are blatant rip-offs of scenes from other books (Felix Leiter versus a shark, anybody?), and I really struggled to reach the end of the book, let alone find it enjoyable.
If you want a decent Bond novel, then buy some of the other reissued Gardner stories (Role of Honour, Scorpius and Licence Renewed are all great stories almost up to Fleming's standards), or, even better, if you haven't read the original canon, do so. But avoid this at all costs - it's not worthy of having the name 'Bond' on the cover.