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mclose (Northumberland, England)

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Zero Minus Ten (James Bond 007)
Zero Minus Ten (James Bond 007)
by Raymond Benson
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Benson's onto a winner., 18 Oct 2005
Anyone who's ever seen a James Bond movie may think they know what to expect from this book: guns, cars, gambling, exotic women and a predictable plot. Well, the literary Bond usually suffers a bit more hardship then his silver screen counterpart, and it shows here.
The plot is vaguely similar to that of some of the more recent Bond films. Three events, all in different locations around the globe: a nuclear bomb explosion in Australia; the murders of two policemen investigating a cargo in Portsmouth, England, and in Hong Kong, a floating restaurant blown up, killing the entire board of a shipping corporation.
With Hong Kong 10 days away from becoming part of China, this is where James Bond is sent to discover how these events are connected. Along the way he will meet some entertaining and diverse characters, and eventually meet an adversary hell-bent on destruction.
Hong Kong is an inspired choice for the setting of the book. It not only allows for a mix of exoticness and seediness intertwined with Chinese culture to be present, but also is central to the plot, but that only becomes apparent toward the end.
The setting also brings together the diverse mix of characters: a drunken Brit whose business empire is collapsing around him; a triad leader running underworld dealings through large corporations, a sadistic Chinese general with a penchant for money and torture and, of course, a woman with a ridiculous name (Sunni Pei) who is an exotic dancer.
I think the two main themes in the book are violence and revenge. There is a lot of violence throughout the book, and revenge is integral to the plot, just like the setting.
I think the strong points of the book include the location of the story, the way Benson drives the plot through twists and turns until the villain is eventually unmasked, and the way the story reflect everything we expect of Bond. My only fault with the book is the inclusion of the Mah-jong game. Whilst it fits the story, it can be confusing to follow, but that's just my opinion.
Although nobody will ever do a better job of chronicling the literary Bond's adventures than Ian Fleming, Benson's first outing is a worthwhile effort that all Bond fans should try.

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