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3.9 out of 5 stars16
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 5 July 2011
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.
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on 4 April 2016
Nobody Lives for Ever, first published in 1986, was the fifth novel by John Gardner.

The story isn't all that complex. En route to retrieve housekeeper, May, from a health clinic, Bond receives some news. British Secret Service tells him that Tamil Rahani, the leader of SPECTRE, is dying. Why? Because Bond wounded him in their last encounter. There is a price on Bond's head. Bond should "trust no one". Mysterious!

Bond learns that May and Miss Moneypenny, who had been visiting his housekeeper, are missing. Bond finds himself dodging would-be assassins while searching for his friends. Assisting him is a young débutante and her capable, yet enigmatic, female bodyguard.

The price on Bond's head is a competition organised by Rahani and SPECTRE. Its known as 'The Head Hunt'. An open contest to capture or kill Bond so he can be decapitated. While Bond tries to rescue Moneypenny and May he has to dodge betrayal, murder, kidnapping by any number of organisations and individuals.

In this twisting tale, Bond is both violent and vicious. The plot is straightforward enough. No plans for world domination here, sharks with lazers, or atomic space weapons. Its simply about henchmen, goons and assassins out to kill Bond, and get a bounty for doing so. Along the action-packed way we get a few surprises, and of course some sticky situations to test 007's skills. The ending is climatic and explosive. Not a perfect novel by any means, but a strong Bond continuation novel nonetheless. It mixes vintage Fleming with 80s culture pretty well. I for one would be more than happy to read another of Gardner's Bond novels. Recommended for anyone who wants to kill a couple of hours in an entertaining and undemanding way.
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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.
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on 5 April 2009
Nobody Lives Forever is one of Gardner's better efforts; 007 is appropriately hard-edged and his femme fatales are as lissome and desirable as ever. The story isn't particularly original: Bond is being head-hunted (literally) by nefarious terrorist organisation SPECTRE and he has to dodge the assassins and watch out for his friends at the same time. A decent read after a couple of false starts from Gardner; I would recommend this for fans of Fleming's superspy rather than the film versions.
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on 13 October 2012
In an attempt to lure Bond to his death SPECTRE kidnap Miss Moneypenny.
Gardner really has hit his stride by this the fifth book in his series of James Bond novels.
His over reliance on SPECTRE and past Bond history (most notably Bond's dead Wife Tracey) sometimes hamper the books but I can understand Gardner's desire to make the books mere thrillers with a character called James Bond in them.
It's a fun read and not too taxing.
Ideal for a holiday.
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on 19 February 2013
John Gardner's fifth James Bond novel is the best of the series up to that point, much more reminiscent of the adventures written by Ian Fleming, in which Bond, holidaying in Europe, discovers that almost every assassin around is after him.

The character of Bond is much more to the fore in this novel, though not as much as in the originals, but the structure feels more familiar. The other characters are stronger than they have been, though it lacked the iconic enemies that Fleming was surprisingly good at making plausible.

In terms of the plot, there were a few moments where I thought it didn't work, with one particularly obvious twist visible right from the start, but otherwise it was strong enough to keep my attention throughout.

A good continuation story, and Gardner's best up to this point. I'm looking forward to continuing the series under his helmsmanship in the hope that things are on the up.
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on 29 December 2012
We know James Bond is fiction but this book is a ridiculous fairy tale based on absolute fatuous rubbish. In my opinion Ian Flemming's work would have been better left alone, John Gardner just does not have what it takes, and times have changed. Lee Child and his Jack Reacher novels are in a completely different and far higher league of story telling.
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on 23 December 2014
Formulaic, and not great to read. I read some of this series of books when they were first published. From memory (without checking) at first Bond drove a Saab or something similar. I suppose this is more back to the norm. Easy to read, but not a novel that leaves any lasting memory.
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on 28 April 2015
After the disappointing Role of honour, Gardner bounces back with a great action filled adventure across Europe. Each chapter is
Full of danger and intrigue. Spectre wants Bond dead and have offered a huge sum for the lucky winner. A great book worthy of
Five stars.
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on 24 May 2014
Nobody expects realism from a James Bond novel but the premise of this novel was so absurd it was hard to believe it had been written by an adult. The writing style was clumsy and forced, no real tension in the narrative, characters were cardboard cut outs. Waste of time.
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