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on 27 July 2011
It was with a certain amount of trepidation that I approached Carte Blanche, for two obvious reasons:

1) It was an American author's take on the most British of iconic characters
2) It was advertised as being an 'update' rather than a 'continuation' of the series

Perhaps the first thing worth noting is that it is not a terrible book. It has a certain sense of urgency which motivates the reader to keep turning the page, and a storyline which, it has to be said, is more memorable than the recent Bond novel by Sebastian Faulks.

The flaw is really one of the character of Bond himself. It would appear that Deaver takes his cue from the more recent film adaptations of the character rather than from the source novels themselves. Fleming's Bond was very much a man on the edge - one who cared little about his own life and who often cared little for those around him. Often relying solely on his stubborn determination and courage rather than on gadgets and gizmos, this Bond made mistakes and suffered the consequences accordingly.

In 'updating' the original character, we are left with a fairly bland Bond who seems to use his smartphone every other page to solve a problem and makes very few mistakes in pursuit of his target. This is not the Bond that 'women want and men want to be', but a watered-down version of what should be a gritty character used to killing without regret.

Perhaps my Bond is one that should always exist in the 1950s/1960s, in the same way that my Sherlock Holmes will always exist under the murky, gaslight illumination of late 19th Century... Worth a read to find out what you think though.
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on 30 October 2016
I enjoyed this book but it suffers from trying to bring (the book) Bond into the modern day. The characters are interesting enough - but like most Bond books are just too one dimensional to be really interesting,

The story goes along at a decent enough pace but is too predictable in its outcome to rate any higher.
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on 7 July 2011
The writing style was atrocious, horribly self-evident and gratuitously indulgent despite his attempt to make up for that by way too many plot twists. The characters were also very stereotyped. In fact i am very surprised that this came out of the pen of an established author, since the writing style seems closer to bad fanfiction on the internet.

It was also really really irritating that he kept shoving advertising (e.g. for the iPhone 4) in the reader's face and instead of developing the plot and bringing out its nuances, he would inflict on the reader his opinions about cars etc. (which also all seemed suspiciously like he was being paid for advertising). If i had wanted to read about that, i would have picked out a magazine about it or watched fifth gear. Yes, there is space for this kind of stuff in a James Bond novel, but it should be done with at least a modicum of subtlety.

This book struck me as a disappointment both to the James Bond series and to the (previously) esteemed author. It really felt as if he'd spent 6 weeks cobbling it together in his bathtub and that his agents had told him to produce any old crap because the brand would sell it all, and the badly integrated advertising would make the rest of the profit.

It is a shame that this man sank so low.
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on 30 May 2011
An interesting approach to Bond, but unlike 007's shooting, is a little hit and miss... its full of lots of nice ideas but no outstanding single great idea to blow the reader away.

Firstly, it's the first official Bond Novel I know of that is set now, this Millenium, so the story features modern technology such as Iphones, apps, satelite imagery etc. I realise that recent Bond films have included this but its refreshing to read a book which brings our hero up to date. Even the more recent Devil May Care novel was set in the past so missed this opportunity. It's also nice to see that many of the old Characters also make a guest appearance in the book which helps to keep the Bond flavour. I feel that JD must have absorbed many of the Bond Novels before sitting down to write this as I believe he has attempted to maintain the feel that Fleming created. It also at times has the flow that you would expect from the Bond films as well. I have never read a Jeffrey Deaver novel before, but he is teasing writer, leading you to believe one thing, only to flip it on its head just a few pages later. I liked this approach however as it keeps the reader on their toes. Although, I did find he's use of detail curious, some actions/scenes are desribed thoughtfully in pages, others in a few seemingly rushed lines. I was expecting much more from the Dubai angle to the story which had been hyped in the build up to its release, rather than just a fleeting 40 pages.

All in all, dont set your expectations too high with this. It's a modern, realisitc (ie concerns with warrants/evidence etc) if at times a little 'low-key' spy caper. Dont expect the big elaborate baddies, hideouts and finale's of the movies. In conclusion, it's an enjoyable read and will help satisfy the hunger of Bond fans for new material but I dont think in time it will be regarded as a classic... but greatly appreciate the effort to keep the Bond hero alive and kicking...
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on 21 August 2012
As I'm a big fan of the original Bond books, I was unsure but keen to see what Britain's favourite spy had been up to. At times this read like an episode of Spooks, which wasn't necessarily a bad thing (mostly).

It was a great summer holiday read, although the constant and continued repetition of key phrases was irritating and felt like the author assumed I had an issue with my short-term memory. Also there were too many references to current events. We get it, it's in the present.
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on 21 February 2012
This book was not a true portrayal of the "real" Bond as we have always known him. I found the story weak, it lacked excitement and sensuality, and above all it lacked that very Britishness that makes up the elements of James Bond's character. The plot idea in essence was good, but it was all over the place and felt as if some sections were written as padding out of the story. I think Jeffrey Deaver ought to stick to the crime thrillers he writes so well and leave Bond to British writers who can make a convincing read. Sorry Jeffrey, but I think that Ian Fleming is a hard act to follow.
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on 13 August 2014
I used to be a great fan of Jeffrey Deaver ever since I read 'The Bone Collector' many years ago. True he had his ups and downs and the 'Rune' and 'Location Scout' books are pretty awful. Unfortunately since 'Garden of Beasts' his books have been going downhill rapidly. What used to be fresh and original became tired and cliche-ridden. This is quite simply the pits. It's dire, and that's being kind to it, luckily it only cost £1.49 from a Charity Shop. The big flaw is to set it in the 21st century when Bond, born in 1920, is far too ancient to indulge in the antics in this book (perhaps he's found the secret of eternal youth). I struggled through it and cannot remember a single episode, all I can recall is that it had all of Fleming's snobbery in 'spades' and long pointless descriptions (as if it was written for a reader who needed everything explained to him/her) to pad out the book, and none of the quality of Fleming's writing. I've never thought of buying a Jeffrey Deaver novel since, even at £1.49!
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on 8 February 2012
The general consensus of reviews seems to be to compare it with Sebastian Faulks's much more sensual (but not sexual) attempt at writing 'as Ian Fleming'. This, though, is a mistake; other than the main character the parallels quickly end. This Bond is an ultra-technical, uber-clinical high-tech spy. Given that this is written by an American, this is unsurprising; nearly all state-sie interpretations of secret agents are technical - very unlike the very human British slant. And, as this is a Bond book, this is a flaw. He is just too efficient; he's always on his smartphone and can flawlessly predict the enemy's next move; if it's too good to be true it is. Bond now has feelings clearly aimed at the new PC Bond audience (is there a place for a PC Bond? Unlikely given that he's meant to take risks on our behalf).

The book is very efficient and lacks the sophistication of Fleming; and it's too easy to put down - the predictable nature of Bond's spy is just too formulaic (given the criticism levelled at the Bond series this is ironic).

The writing is occasionally jarring; staccato sentences have to be read again to understand their meaning (a little too clipped, they feel like text speak). In essence, this is actually a film script. On that point, the reference to contemporary films is also jarring.

One worry is the villain (who's ambitions are grotesque but very limited - no longer wanting world-domination he drewls over dead bodies in the sleepy village of March) who takes this into the world of detective horror; in which Deaver normally plies his trade.

Bond has become like a SIM card: efficient, modern, expendable and of no particular interest to anyone. This is detective horror with a figure called 'Bond' as the main protagonist but this is not James Bond.

As Fleming's full talents now emerge - in fairness to Deaver, Faulks and all others who've fallen under the Bond-train wheels, having others (although they've had their moments) write Bond novels has proved to be like having others write Dickens. Maybe one day someone'll come finish the job. Better still, pick up a Fleming Bond.
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on 15 October 2011
This is so much better than Devil May Care, the last Bond book. The research seems impeccable, the gadgets believable and the story just the right level of complexity/intrigue for a Bond. As with all Bond books, 007 comes out of too many scrapes unhurt but at least each escape, if taken alone, is believable. A tiny, but compelling side plot regarding his parents. Personally I hope that Jeffery Deaver is asked to write another one and that he isn't put off by quite a few poor reviews unfairly comparing this book to a set of books written in the 60's. This is exactly what a modern day Bond book should be like.
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VINE VOICEon 9 October 2011
The title says it all and other reviewers have said it too. The main character is an ex-SBS naval commander which in itself is a little far-fetched. Then he is supposed to have served with distinction on the ground in Afghanistan. Now I know the SAS are on the ground there, but the SBS? I'll stand to be corrected but I do not think so. Then there is the background. All Bond's known background (from previous novels) has been thrown out and a new career path found for him, placing him in the here and now but totally destroying the Bond myth in the process. He becomes just another agent, a very good one but not James Bond any more. The fact that the book is written by an American who has no connection to the Britishness of Bond may have influenced this transformation. After all the Americans think that their Navy SEALS are elite troops on a par with the SAS. Come on. Enough said. I shall think twice before buying any more books by this author, especially if they pretend to be James Bond novels. Even Johnny English is closer to the original.
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