Gardner's only direct follow on (his final Bond book COLD
was a sequel/ reunion of characters from this book and Win, Lose or Die (James Bond)
) sees one of the bad guys getting away at the end of Role of Honour (James Bond)
and putting a deathbed contract on 007. It could have been tried out many times over the years, with a more noteworthy villain. What's astonishing is the high calibre of the delivery.
Score: 9/10. Of all the independently-minded Gardner's entries in the Bond canon, this is the one that might have easily been a Fleming manuscript. It's to the former's credit that he offers up such a fan-pleaser, and does it so well. Bond is the resourceful, sensitive and thoughtful man of action at his best. On leave from his Service, he sets out on a personal mission to rescue May and Moneypenny even though he knows it to be a trap staged for his own destruction.
The set up is a simple one and works well. The prose is well crafted and immediate, probably Gardner's best in 007 mode. The host of enigmatic sexy girls, uncomprimising allies and would-be assassins who interrupt Bond's road trip are brilliantly drawn. The trappings are alternately luxurious and macabre, keeping things interesting whilst never sacrificing pace.
Classic touches abound: scuba diving, car chases and Bond's love of travel and the simple things in life. His weapons again consist of the ASP, Bentley and instinct, plus a new baton and a Q Branch engineered belt. The settings of alpine Europe and the Florida Keys are fittingly Fleming-y.
The only real downside is the shorter length of the tale, but this is a minor quibble of an otherwise excellent novel.