Top critical review
Easy-to-read, down to earth spy adventure
on 29 October 2015
The basic plot in Nobody Lives Forever, like Gardner's No Deals Mr Bond, probably gives a more realistic account of the spy world than we are used to in the Bond novels and films. Like License to Kill and From Russia With Love there is an "it could actually happen" feel to it and similarly to the latter, it sees Bond being thrown into a devious game by his enemies to bring about his death as justice for the damage he has inflicted on them, particularly SPECTRE. The idea of Bond having his holiday interrupted by those who hate him the most is fresh and exciting, and there are tense moments as he is hunted across Europe in a game of cat and mouse.
Once again there are allies of 007's who betray and ultimately nearly bring about his death. The turning of Quinn and Nannie were somewhat expected though, in fact Nannie's was inevitable. Where the novel is really let down is it's mid-section, when the two ladies Sukie and Nannie are dragged into Bond's situation as he is hunted down across the continent. In fact, the two of them were not even dragged into it, they appear happy to come along for the ride when Bond explains he needs to use them as hostages or leverage. While Nannie's involvement later turns out to be for different reasons, the idea of the two women being happy to accept this situation is nonsensical. The girls, as ever, are like putty in Bond's hands for the most part, but he does have to work a bit for Sukie's affections.
Generally this mid-part of the book just drags a bit, with the chase becoming slightly monotonous. It is not helped by some cringey dialogue either, like "Nannie knows best" (where did Gardner get the names Sukie and Nannie from??). More intriuging are 007's heavily-concealed gadgets and a nasty, corrupt copper in Salzburg.
Once again, Q (Major Boothroyd) is mentioned but never seen which is a dissapointment. Moneypenny on the other hand is taken hostage along with Bond's housekeeper May. In keeping with Bond's character, women are his weakness but what is so unbelievable is the lack of trauma inflicted on the two of them after being kidnapped by terrorists. They make escaping from their captors with Bond in a burning building seem like a walk in the park and a day or two later are sitting down happy having dinner as though they are just on another holiday.
I also felt the SPECTRE saga was wearing a bit thin by this time and it would have been better to have Bond up against other enemies. However, it keeps up the slightly humorous theme of 007 just always being that fly in their ointment, one man hellbent on bringing the evil organisation to its knees.
An easy-to-read spy thriller not without a few deficiencies.