10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
I've only recently read the Ian Fleming novels and was pleased to see this book released - a chance to read another James Bond adventure and see Sebastian Faulks' take on the James Bond legend. The book makes a good first impression with a great title (hopefully a film will use it in future) and cover.
Faulks is credited as 'writing as Ian Fleming' and has done a very good job of imitating Fleming's writing style. The book definitely feels like one of the originals in style and follows on from the last Fleming story ('The Man With The Golden Gun'). Unfortunately this is the book's main weakness - it feels too much like a tribute and lacks any originality. In order to achieve such a likeness to the original novels, Faulks has lifted so much from them that it feels like 'Bond by Numbers' - all the usual suspects are here: a train ride, fight on a plane, underwater scene and a mad villain's secret plan to bring down Britain together with the expected girls, alcoholic drinks and foreign locations. The characters, plot and locations all have certain deja-vu feel to them that makes the story feel formulaic. Goldfinger and Moonraker are the books that spring to mind most often when reading this.
There are also far too many nods and references to the previous books - it's almost as if Faulks is trying to prove that he's read them all. It was nice to see Rene Mathis and Felix Leiter appear again, but their presence didn't seem to add much to the plot and I was left feeling that they were just there for the sake of nostalgia.
Having said all that, the story is enjoyable and it is nice to be able to read one more James Bond adventure. It could have been a lot worse, but it felt like an opportunity was lost. It's like going to watch a tribute band such as the Bootleg Beatles - they do a great job of impersonating a band that you can't see any more ... it just doesn't feel quite the same.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
"Devil May Care" is a lightweight, enjoyable pot boiler that is highly reminiscent of the Ian Fleming novels and also the Sean Connery 007 movies. I definitely felt that Sebastian Faulks nailed Fleming's writing style. Unfortunately he has been less successful in constructing a compelling plot and characters.
I very much enjoyed the first half the book which vividly recreates the late 60s. Bond's initial confrontation with the villain is over a game of tennis that reads more like a duel and has all the tension of Casino Royale. The love interest, Scarlett, also makes a dramatic entry. However the second half of the book rapidly loses momentum and pace and the overly-complicated plot gets bogged down with lengthy explanations and the introduction of characters (like Felix Leiter) who add little to the story. The villain's motivations are clichés and the book concludes with a final twist that comes as less of a surprise than it seems it was intended to be.
Three stars, because it's still a quick and fun read that captures the essence of Fleming's writing. But it's not what it could have been.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 21 August 2012
I've been a fan of the old Bond films for years, and am just as enthusiastic about the Daniel Craig `reboot', which thematically is much more in keeping with Fleming's novels. This came out around the same time as `Casino Royale' and I've been waiting to read it ever since.
Despite the tacky cover, everything about this is pure Fleming Bond. It's clear that Faulks has had a lot of fun writing this, and it reads like a love letter to everything that makes the franchise what it is: interesting villains, irresistible girls and plenty of action.
Amazingly Faulks stops all this just short of cheesy or cheap. There are some brilliant scenes that feel right out of the early stories: a gentleman's challenge over a tennis game; a girl who Bond can't trust; a big plot to be uncovered and prevented.
The dialogue is great - M is absolutely spot on and you can hear his voice hammering from the page. Bond himself doesn't seem to say and awful lot though, but the narrative is from his point of view and fills in the gaps. He drinks a lot, is never without a cigarette and eats a lot of scrambled eggs. I got a big chunk of Connery in this Bond, with the best bits of Moore without the smarminess, and a dollop of the Craig realism. You can imagine Faulks' Bond as whichever actor you prefer and I think this would work.
There's plenty of attention to detail, with Fleming could really overdo at times, but the pacing is fine and the action isn't overblown. It feels very down to earth and gritty, rather than the slickness of the Moore films which lost some of that charm.
It's a shame that the ending fizzles out a little, but the only real flaw with this is the complimentary interview with Faulks at the end (I don't think all copies have this). Unfortunately it reveals old Sebastian as a pompous elitist who apparently had his arm twisted into writing this kind of trite and unliterary stuff, and boasts at how busy he is whilst putting down Fleming unashamedly - you would think he would have a little more grace.
I don't let this affect my rating however, and if I did the essay on writing thrillers written by Fleming himself would more than make up for the sour taste left in my mouth - a frank insight into the writer's mind.
Great fun and fine fiction, well worth reading if you're even a casual fan of James Bond.
8.5 / 10
Author of `Half Discovered Wings'
72 of 81 people found the following review helpful
on 29 May 2008
I purchased this at 11 yesterday morning and went to bed at 3 this morning. Forget Raymond Benson and John Gardner, this is vintage James Bond, you can feel Fleming's ghost over your shoulder, it reads like the best of his books with a fast moving plot bags,of gourmet food and drink with a cracking villain. I always liked the early Bond books never liked the films, the Bond in the books was toally different darker and more vulnerable, and if you are expecting the Bond of the movies you will be disappointed. Sebastian Faulks has captured this brilliantly. I hope he writes another, I think Bond does for the fifties and sixties what Sherlock Holmes has done for the Victorian and Edwardian age the early books are becoming classics (my old english teacher will role over in his grave)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 August 2015
It's hard to describe just how bad this book is, but I'll give it a go. First of all there's the plot, which is a risible lashup of pieces taken from the Fleming books. Our hero and bit of skirt get on a sleeper train and the attendant is pressured to reveal this ("Live and Let Die") to allow an assassin to try to kill them ("From Russia With Love"0. Post-Fleming BonD books are plagiarised too: the villain's chief henchmen tortures people by sticking things down their ears, just like the eponymous villain in "Colonel Sun", Kingsley Amis's excruciatingly rotten contribution to the canon.
Mr Faulks has clearly read the preceding books in order to be able to copy so much from them, but he hasn't read them well. When Bond and the girl find themselves in Russia, Bond is curious to see the country against which he has worked so long for the first time. Except it isn't the first time, because reference is made to the events of "You Only Live Twice", after which Bond spends six months being brainwashed in Russia ready for "The Man With The Golden Gun".
Ah yes, Russia. Apparently a British man and woman (she speaks Russian, though, and yes, anyone with half a brain will work out that she is the new 00 agent about two paragraphs after she appears) could hitch their way through 1960s Russia, at the height of the cold war, with no problems at all, and getting out of Russia was a simple matter of slipping a few quid to a Leningrad fisherman.
The rest of the plot would have made the "Scooby Doo" production team feel that they were short-changing their fans. The characters are so cardboard as not to be worth bothering about.
Fleming wrote books with verve and style. On this evidence, Mr Faulks is either a rotten author, or one who will do a rotten job for money, or both.
As a final insult, the paper in the edition I read - in a holiday cottage - was too hard and inflexible to make a reasonable substitute for Andrex. I imagine it lights fires reasonably well, though.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
It is interesting that the literary heirs to Ian Fleming are now choosing writers from all genres to write sequels to his legacy. Of course the first even one, back in the nineteen sixties Colonel Sun: A James Bond Adventure was written by Kinglsey Amis (writing as Robert Markham) who also wrote what is still one of the best ever studies of the Bond novels The James Bond Dossier.
Now we come to this novel, Sebastian Faulks has impeccable literary credentials. He has made an impressive study of Ian Fleming and his literary style. Furthermore, unlike some of the other writers of sequels so far, Amis excepted, he has set his novel in the fifties/sixties when the novels were originally set. All of this is good, the novel certainly has some of the pace and freshness of the originals. And though I've enjoyed some of the updates by John Gardner, Raymond Benson and Jeffrey Deaver, this is certainly the most successful sequel since the Amis/Markham outing.
The characterization of Bond and M also rings true to the Fleming originals. He is slightly less successful with Felix Leiter who makes an appearance, but who doesn't really add to the humour and the plot or even quite the warmth he had in the Fleming books. In fact he is more like the many of the rather insipid versions seen in many of the films. The villain, Dr. Julius Gorner, however is up to standard and he puts Bond through a number of torturous trials and has a memorable real tennis match even if that is reminiscent of Goldfinger (Penguin Modern Classics). The Bond girl/woman is perhaps slightly more modern than the usual women in the Fleming novels, but still convincing. The plot itself is as preposterous as expected, an attempt to discredit Britain. This is carried forward with pace and there are other memorable scenes, though to my my mind the climax and final scenes are a somewhat a let-down.
All in all this an entertaining read even if it is a little formulaic. But then perhaps that is what we wanted- something to remind us of the greatness of the originals. It certainly achieves that, and deserves some credit as an achievement it's own right.
57 of 66 people found the following review helpful
"Bond has lost his licence to thrill" proclaimed The Scotsman newspaper in a review in the edition the day after this book was published. A play on words dreamt up months if not years ago, I should think, and having now read the book, one week on, written on the basis of a less than complete reading of it.
I read "Devil May Care" while considering the question "if I did not know that was not written by Ian Fleming (say about1967, when it is set), would I have known?". In short, I think not. Faulks captures Flemings' style brilliantly.
Faulks does allow himself a few nods to the Bond films as well as to the earlier books (Flemings' ones only - even Kingsley Amis/Robert Markham's Colonel Sun appears to have been discounted, not to mention the 23 other Bond novels. (Fleming published 12 novels, plus two collections of short stories.)) The villain, one Dr Julius Gorner, has more than a passing resemblance to Drax ("Moonraker") and appears in one scene "in a tropical suit with a carnation" just as I remember Charles Gray playing Blofeld in one of the films. There are some topical references too: opium poppies are coming from Helmand province in Afghanisatan - which just happens to be where British troops are battling the drugs trade and international terrorism today. Bond is equipped with a gadget by "Q Section" (there was never a man called "Q" in the books, just the films); Bond, however, fails to use it or even mention it again.
The plot's formula follows Fleming's established pattern with only the requisite number of variations. Bond is on a sabbatical, because he is losing his touch and has not quite recovered after the snake bite poisoning from Scaramanga's bullet two years before. He is on the wagon on doctor's orders. We know that all is not well when a woman offers herself to him - but he turns her down. There is an early "social" encounter with the villain, after which Bond follows him to his lair, falls into his evil clutches, is set a test to challenge the very best, fails but subsequently escapes, kills the baddie, saves the world. Did I mention that Felix Leiter appears to help out (and boost sales in the US?). As ever Bond has a female accomplice, and here I think Faulks does achieve something new. I was kept guessing throughout the book as to whether she was really what she said she was, and, if she was not, whether that was good or bad. I guessed the wrong way.
Lest you think that I am seeking to belittle the Bond novels, far from it. They are brilliant - entertaining, informative in their way, racy - but the plots were always (if you thought them through) a bit ludicrous. That was the point - and not the point - a willing suspension of disbelief was all that was needed, but was essential. If you want (to pretend you are reading) something more credible try Le Carre or even, god knows, Gerald Seymour or Andy McNab.
If I have any bones to pick, then I point out one "continuity" mistake that made it through (even though Faulks re-read all of the Bond books before writing this one. Bond could not have "found himself at last in Russia" because he had travelled across Russia between the end of You Only Live Twice" and the beginning of "The Man with the Golden Gun". I am inclined to accept that Faulks did this intentionally, however, as Bond had, perhaps, not been entirely in his own mind on that journey - he was being brainwashed by the KGB. Perhaps more irritatingly, some "new" characters were really quite derivative - quite apart from Gorner, Bond's SIS contact in the Middle East is almost identical to Kerim Darko from "From Russia with Love" - it is one thing to tip the wink to the original book, quite another to copy characters!
A well-reconstructed blast from the past, I loved it. Whether I think Faulks or anyone else should write any more Bond novels I don't know - but, on the basis of this work, I'd be prepared to give it a shot.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 September 2011
Considering I've just read (and reviewed) Carte Blanche, I thought I'd revisit Devil May Care, just to re-assess my opinion of it in comparison to the latest addition to the Bond legacy by Deaver.
Two very different styles admittedly, but I think Faulk's actually nails the Fleming style and essence of the Bond character. With Fleming's own later books, which seemed to lose their gloss slightly, Devil May Care seems to fit in perfectly as the `next in the series', as if Fleming himself has carried on writing. This is by no means classic Bond, but it's an interesting and entertaining addition to the Bond novels and one I would read again.
The voice of Fleming lives on in Devil May Care, as does Bond as Fleming had known him. I don't think any Bond writer so far had managed to create a memorable villain, which is where Fleming excelled.
I hope Faulk's writes again, in the style of Fleming, and refines and includes his own style to create another Bond story like this.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 November 2014
I love the bond books and I have no problem with the people writing in the style, but this is not a good one.
It feels like it has been knocked out in a weekend and is to me a bit lazy. I thought the book was okish and frankly slow, but not worth reading again, something I have done in multiple times to all of the others.
An poor attempt, but then hearing an interview where Faulks said it was so easy just proved that he had not bothered and his heart was not in it. Hence the one star.
Save your money and read one of the others, or better still, revisit the originals.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 5 July 2009
"Devil May Care" either made Fleming aficionados leap from their chairs and gleefully skip down to the shops to pick up a copy, or make them sob uncontrollably into their first editions of the 1950s originals. I didn't do either, and this was the first Bond novel I read.
It's worth pointing out that despite what the PR company behind its publication will have you believe, "Devil May Care" is by no means the first James Bond novel since Fleming breathed his last. This misapprehension can't help but degrade the inspired efforts of Raymond Benson and John Gardner, the previous novelists who took on the License to Write Bond Books.
On beginning "Goldfinger" immediately after reading "Devil May Care", I was painted a coherent picture of what both books tried to bring to the table, and not least the differing writing styles from their respective authors. Although Sebastian Faulks attempted to write in the same style as Fleming did, I felt Faulks's style was less laid back and relaxed than the Bond creator's, although the mildly confused plot was faintly Flemingian.
This is definitely not Fleming at work; viewed from that angle, Faulks fails miserably. I felt such lines as "Bond went to the lift" lacked vision and colour, feeling numb, while in a later scene, Bond goes from a cell to an office on opposite sides of the building in less than three sentences. Another flaw is the title itself, bearing no relation whatsoever to the book.
At times, Devil May Care is shabbily written. Faulks has said that he attempted to emulate Ian Fleming's schedule by writing it in six weeks. In actuality, Fleming planned the book with considerable effort before writing the first draft in the allotted six weeks, before undertaking strenuous rewrites.
Despite the rather sharp title of this review, I did find the book enjoyable at least half the time, although the plot stuttered to a holt in places, wherein it was carried mainly by the "Bond girl", Scarlet, rather than Bond, who, strangely, seemed less complex here and his bullying, sexist indifference borders on the mundane.
The nemesis, Julius Gorner, is anti-English to the point of extreme, hating everything the British stand for and is unaccountably obsessed with the English stereotype, whether it is true to false. In this regard, he is almost exactly the same character as Hugo Drax in "Moonraker".
There is a tennis match between Bond and Gorner, which attempts to emulate the golf game in "Goldfinger" (which this reader found incredibly boring at twenty five pages, but then again I don't know anything about golf).
It takes a few chapters to really get into "Devil May Care"; the middle of the book is clearly the best, while the last third seems to struggle as the plot runs out. There's a minor twist in the end, while the final downfall of the villain is not in typical Bond tradition and is similar in tone to the fates of Le Chiffre and Dominic Greene in the film versions of the marvelous Casino Royale and the incredibly disappointing Quantum of Solace.
"Devil May Care" was a good read; not great by any means, and certainly lacking the dry wit and easy-going narrative of the Fleming novels, but it's mostly enjoyable, although I don't think another Bond novel by Faulks will be an exciting prospect.
Interviews with Sebastian Faulks reveal a man who evidently believes James Bond is beneath him; an egotistical "literary" novelist who looks down on Ian Fleming with little more than a narcissistic grimace. For a better taste of what an outstanding James Bond novel is like, check out Ian Fleming's "Goldfinger", and the three-books-in-one bargain "The Union Trilogy" by Raymond Benson. These are stunning works, and leave Sebastian Faulks out in the cold.