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3.9 out of 5 stars28
3.9 out of 5 stars
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 16 May 2000
If you're looking for a read that will twist and turn and make you want to stay up all night, this is it! James Bond is fighting in the battle of a lifetime against the Union. He foiled their last scheme and they want revenge. These villains will stop at nothing short of death to have their way with the world at large and of course there's only one man who has even an outside chance to stop them! Raymond Benson has found the formula for beautiful women, the plot that pulls you in and won't let go and the hero we all wish we were! James Bond is back in a big way!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 May 2000
I found Doubleshot very disappointing.
Raymond Benson delivered the goods with "Zero Minus Ten", "Tomorrow Never Dies" and "The Facts of Death". Then came "High Time To Kill" which started well but petered out badly. RB hit gold dust once more with "The World Is Not Enough" - a cracking read, but to me he is way off the mark with his latest JB tale. "Doubleshot" took a long time to get started and even then RB's foot was never on the gas. Nothing happened at all in the first three chapters. I found the plot completely unbelievable as were Bond's opponents. They all seemed as over the top as Elliot Carver in TND - the only poor part of a good story.
Attention to detail was lacking. Did RB really mean a three million peseta increase in Espada's mercenary recruitment budget (Chapter 5)? I've never recruited mercenaries but would not have thought that just over ten thousands pounds sterling would buy much, and on the same tack, knowing what a psycho Espada's was, can we believe that Carlos would help Maria, Roberto Rojo's girlfriend, to escape for just half a million pesetas; around one thousand seven hundred pounds sterling? Did RB pick the wrong exchange rate, or are terrorist costs really so cheap?
What is RB doing to Bond's intellect? Bond meets Heidi Taunt in chapter fourteen who immediately tells him she travels with her sister, both working as travel guide writers. Why then when Bond is snubbed by her two pages later does he not realise it is her identical twin sister?
Come to that what is RB's assessment of his reader's intellect? In chapter twenty he suggests that Peredur Glyn's Welsh accent was so close to James Bond's Scottish accent that it will only be noticed by those close to Bond. Can RB really not differentiate between these two accents?...
Regrettably then this for me was a very disappointing JB yarn, lacking pace, action and plausibility with neither a believable plot nor believable characters. Even James Bond was unbelievable!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2002
Benson has hardly lived up to his first three novels with his latest episode of Bond. He has never been Ian Fleming, but has successfully avoided making the novels too close to the almost too stereotypical film character. Unfortunately Doubleshot is the weakest of his novel todate.
Despite the fact the whole book is based on the premise that Bond has suffered a head injury and is unsure of what is happening around him, Benson does not produce a convincingly sick Bond. The novel starts with promise but as Bond's adventures from country to country begin, events and situations are poorly constructed and lack a sense of either being genuinely contrived to guide Bond to certain conclusions or being haphazard events that lead Bond along the trail of the Union.
It is not a difficult read, and it is pleasurable read. It has fleeting moments where Benson creates memorable scenes such as the assassination of the bullfighter or creates vivid and interesting prose such as around the Union leader Le Gerant. However I shall be reading Never Dream of Dying with a little trepidation, hoping that Benson can produce a novel of the quality of the first two.
A weak middle chapter of the trilogy, but a worthy holiday read.
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on 1 March 2013
Benson's 4th novel (2nd in the Union Trilogy) picks up only weeks after the devastating end of High Time To Kill (1999). Smashing the Union's 1st major scheme has left 007 a physical and emotional wreck, with a powerful enemy in its leader Le Gerant. Popping pills and suffering from blackouts, Bond little realises that he is pivotal to the Union's latest plan. A plot that will ensure both 007's destruction and the shaming of Britain, via the machinations of a crazed former matador who would see Gibraltar returned to Spain at a terrible cost.

Score: 8/10. Though too overblown for some, this is one of my favourites from Mr Benson. Whereas HTTK scaled the heights in true blockbusting style, Doubleshot (2000) plunges into the depths of noirish storytelling not found in the series since Gardner's Scorpius (1988) or Amis' Colonel Sun (1968). The retrospective plot gambit works well: the opening chapter sets up the doom laden finale and then we rewind to watch our man manipulated, with excruciating inevitability, towards his own destruction. Although devotees of such fiction will probably guess the resolution, it's nice to see Bond in real trouble. The development of Le Gerant and the Union is nicely handled, without detracting from the main plot.

The major problem is the flabby 2nd act in Morocco that exists purely to pad the book to length. 007 bizarrely forgets his troubles, wining, dining and flirting and throwing common sense to the wind; the Union ensure Bond gains a vital ally; while Benson offers up Bond's very convenient friendship with a star matador! I don't at all mind Bond as the victim of the villain's plan until the 11th hour (From Russia With Love & Colonel Sun do it wonderfully) but the Union really makes life difficult for itself. An invitation to Spain in chapter 20 would've sufficed. Mind you Yassassin, their master planner, discreetly wanders round in a fez in case anyone was in doubt of his mysteriously foreign credentials, so perhaps we shouldn't be surprised.

The final 3rd in Spain works much better. The bull fighting is expertly handled: fully explaining this aspect of a foreign culture without ignoring the grim details. The sort of topic Fleming/Bond was always fascinated by. While the finale's not as earthshattering as it might be, it (perhaps too) thoroughly wraps up the loose ends. Overall it's the flourishes and fast pace that carry the midway silliness, that otherwise rely on Bond running from a hail of bullets and chapters that are either just villains or SIS staff talking. I can easily forgive the adolescent stuff, especially the glorious femme fatale and even the blonde twin sisters (if not their dialogue).

The writer's old habit of having characters think (then state) the obvious recurs, but Spain and Morocco are evocatively described. Much less tourist guide than Benson's usual writing, the locations come to life in the little touches (eg the Rif mountain drug dealers). He's just a bit unlucky that Soho is now a far more respectable part of London than in decades past. Too many bad guys muddy the water -Bond only meets Espada in the penultimate chapter- but it's impressively gadget free. A triumph of style over substance and great fun if you're in the mood.
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on 14 March 2001
When I was fourteen years of age I went with my father to see the film version of "Goldfinger". It was the first James Bond film he had ever seen, and he hated it! His response to the film was: "This man Bond is supposed to be Britain's top agent, yet he bungles his way through the film from beginning to end. He makes mistakes, he gets captured, yet somehow in the last reel he manages to turn the tables and emerge as the hero of the hour. It's completely unrealistic!" If that verdict is in any justified where earlier Bond adventures are concerned it would certainly seem to be doubly justified when considering "Doubleshot". Bond doesn't get anything right for most of the book. He makes mistakes, he allows himself to be duped by the villainous Union, and his mental and physical health is such that he barely seems able to function as a serious undercover agent. Yet, against all the odds, in a highly improbable ending, he manages to reverse his fortunes and defeat the baddies once again. The book does have some positive features: the more human view of Bond is to be welcomed, in principle, and readers will enjoy speculating which of the two beautiful twin sisters (and CIA agents) Heidi and Hedy will eventually enjoy the obligatory romantic interlude with our hero. You'll have to read the book to get the answer to that question - but I still have doubts about the wisdom of endlessly extending the Bond saga. Fleming's hero was a man of the 1950s and very early 1960s, so what is he doing in the very different world of the twenty-first century?
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on 29 December 2000
Raymond Benson's fourth James Bond continuation novel, "Doubleshot" starts with a stylish experiment in structure giving us the end at the beginning - a cliffhanger - to be picked up only in the last chapter. This device frames an ingenious story involving an all too human James Bond, physically and emotionally weakened by his last adventure, "High Time To Kill", at odds with the Service, his colleagues and his very sanity. Convinced he is losing his grip on reality and believing he has seen his doppelganger, his exact double, James Bond must discover what is happening to him in order to regain his reputation and clear his name. However, Bond is a mere pawn in a greater scheme plotted by the blind Berber, Le Gerant, and his terrorist organization, The Union. The Union has colluded with Domingo Espada (a fervent Spanish nationalist, political populist and his nation's favourite toreador), who is planning to destabilize the world by staging an audacious coup.
Bond follows a trail that leads him through: a shoot-out in Soho, dinner at the Ivy in London, a secret base in Casablanca, a train journey from Tangier with a buxom pair of twins, a raid on a camp near the Rif Mountains in Morocco, a fortress-like toreador training estate in Marbella, Spain, a beautiful but deadly equestrian, a fight in an abattoir and a meeting with the Governor of the Rock of Gibraltar.
Benson keeps continuity with Fleming and Gardner's Bond as well as the developments in his own series. Bond is motivated by the revelations at the end of the last novel and there is a pleasing development of character. However, Benson's masterstroke is his depiction of bull fighting, symbolic of the dance of death between James Bond and Espada. Fleming would surely have cast an eye on the sport and Bond's encounter follows in the great tradition of adventure literature. The novel is an entertaining, fun read, written with attention to detail and passion and is, by an edge, the best Bond adventure Raymond Benson has written to date.
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on 20 July 2009
Although not a direct sequel to the marvellous "High Time to Kill", this novel by Raymond Benson still incorporates "The Union" as Bond's arch enemies. Having murdered someone close to him in the previous book, James Bond wants revenge against The Union - and, curious enough - they want revenge from him too. Having acquired a brain injury in the Himalayas during the last book, Bond is feeling vulnerable and is not activating at 100%, and he goes rogue (like in "Licence to Kill") while on leave from SIS and so begins the usual globe trotting.

Generally speaking, it's a fine adventure, and has many terrific moments. The plot is slightly marred by the bull-fighting sequences, which I, personally, don't find especially riveting. The bad guy is also a little dull - a retired, egotistical matador. The book is probably best remembered among Bond fans for the not one but two love interests - and they're twins. Also, not to give too much away, The Union has a Bond double, adding further intrigue.

It's a lot darker than "High Time to Kill" but was, for me, a swifter read. It's probably best to get "The Union Trilogy" - like I did - and read all three Union adventures sequentially. In short, it's miles better than "Devil May Care", and is a fun read.

So sit back, enjoy, and have yourself a Vodka Martini; shaken, not stirred. In fact, why not make it a double!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 November 2000
Thank God for the likes of Amazon because at normal retail... this is a lot of money for a thin novel. A weird sort of Bond this, too much self doubt and lack of the calculated killer instinct. Too many obvious plot lines ... and the frustration of a Bond that ignores the obvious and acts, well, stupidly. Mr Benson needs to do a little better next time and the publishers need to review their pricing policy!!
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on 29 May 2000
This is the most human Bond in a long while. Not only is he battered physically, but his head is screwed up as well. It reminds me of the start of "Man with the Golden Gun" and "You Only Live Twice"
Benson tries a few new things while keeping to the beloved elements of Bond. It is not as ground breaking as his last book "High Time to Kill" but it fun anyway.
Good Bad girl Margareta-only wish there was more of her. Love interests were good too. Bullfighting theme and doubles are nice touches. Benson is also good at picking locations-Spain and Africa are colorful. I wish there were more descriptive cars, weapons and gadgets.
The Union is a pretty good updating of SPECTRE-nice detail about the leader Le Gerant.
Overall a good, fast read, full of great Fleming detail, but not as gripping as the climbing sequence from "High Time to Kill. " Can't wait for the next one.
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on 18 June 2000
In Doubleshot Raymond Benson has meshed an exciting plot with a very deep and personal analysis of James Bond's state of mind. Two months on from the events of High Time To Kill Bond still carries the physical and mental scars of his first battle with the Union and is off the active duty list. The Union has not forgotten the encounter either, and has hatched an ambitious plan to torment and ultimately destroy 007. To achieve their aim, they have allied themselves with Domingo Espada, a powerful former matador obsessed with reclaiming Gibraltar for Spain.
With each successive novel, Benson is growing in confidence. Doubleshot features some outstanding writing, with colourful characters and thrilling scenes. The novel is well paced, and the exploration of Bond's mental health adds an unusual and intriguing dimension to the story. Personally, I enjoyed it immensely and am looking forward to the next instalment.
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