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VINE VOICEon 24 July 2014
No Deals, Mr Bond represents an overdue and immensely welcome departure from the formula used by Gardener in previous books (with the exception of 'Nobody Lives For Ever'). The story centres around an aborted ‘honey pot’ operation against the KGB called Operation Cream Cake. Bond is instrumental in pulling two of the girls involved in the operation out of Europe via the use of a nuclear submarine. Apart from this ‘set piece’ the book leaves the usual film-inspired plot lines (megalomaniac wanting to take over the world) and moves into murkier waters. The original ‘dangles’ are being hunted down and killed by the KGB with their tongues cut out to send a clear message to MI6 not to mess with them.

M sends Bond to find and protect the remaining two women and one man who have taken on new identities. In his attempts to do this he unravels a knotty puzzle involving double agents, the GRU (the military arm of the KGB), the old head of SMERSH and of course a beautiful woman. His travels take him first to Ireland and then to Hong Kong.

There is a dollop of sexism and some mild racial stereotypes to cope with along the way, but in this respect Gardner mirrors Ian Fleming very well (whether this is a concerted effort is arguable). The final scenes where Bond is being hunted by four assassins on a small island off the coast of Hong Kong are excellently paced and executed by Gardner. Exposition is scattered about the book where required rather than being lumped at the end and the plot for once is wholly believable. This is a great book.
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on 3 January 2001
By their very nature Bond books and films are to a large degree predictable, we know what to expect and we expect to get it. What matters is the way it's done and with this book Gardner pulled together his take on the Bond formula to it's neatest and most satisfying.
No deals Mr Bond, whilst not a classic title by any means, combines the sort of genuine espionage activities of the novels of John Le Carre and indeed John Gardner's own Herbie Kruger series, networks of agents, legends, tradecaft, betrayals, double-crosses and inter-agency rivalries. With the more Bond like car chases, gunfights, torture and of course sex.
The plot concerns the sudden and mysterious deaths of members of one of SIS's most successful cold war networks, long after they were disbanded and given new, safe identities. Bond is dispatched to try to find and protect the rest of them but is quickly plunged into an abyss of betrayal, unable to be certain of what is the truth and who can be trusted.
The twists of the plot and of fate that befall Bond in this novel seem more plausibly located in the real world than many of the other books by Gardner in the series. Here there are no larger than life psychotics trying to gas New York or nuke Westminster, just dark people playing a dark game because it's all they know and all they're good at.
A cracking read that makes you wish they'd make a film that was plot rather than stunt heavy. Enjoy.
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on 11 July 2013
No Deals, Mr Bond has to rate as one of the worst titles in the series, which is a shame as it's one of Gardner's better novels. I've found the first five to be variable in quality, but by his sixth Bond story, Gardner seems to have got a plot that works and a grip in the character he wants Bond to be.

Two former undercover agents have been killed and M asks Bond to protect the remaining three members of the team. It's a basic and believable story with little reliance on ultramodern (for the eighties) technology or gadgetry, skips over the aspects Gardner's vision of Bond dug into in the previous novels, and is much more like something Fleming would have penned.

Bond still lacks some of the depth of character that Fleming gave him, but at least doesn't seem to contradict the original character. There are moments where Bond's apparent age flickers between his thirties and sixties, but it's hidden well and easy to suspend disbelief of this minor aspect.

A good adventure, and if the rest of Gardner's novels follow the style of this one then I'll be very pleased.
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on 21 July 2011
After two successful outings in keeping with Fleming's style, Gardner's 6th 007 novel is his most original since Icebreaker. While the latter failed for me (compromising too much Bondian action and pace for a slowburning spytrade tale), this story sees a dynamic Bond against the odds and driving events as a British spy ring is wound up.

Score: 8/10. It certainly doesn't hang about. The covert naval op is convincingly told; then Bond is plunged into a deniable mission to rescue 'honeytrap' agents who'd spied for the UK and are now being killed. What follows is a Buchan/Sapper/Yates (the latter is referenced) style thriller, our hero on the run through London, Ireland, Paris and Hong Kong amid circling cloak-and-dagger treachery.

It's sort of Gardner's take on From Russia With Love (with a trap set by a Russian spymaster intent on bringing 'death to spies') except here neither Bond nor the reader know each character's loyalties. Those characters are nicely drawn, even if the girls follow Gardner's by now familiar pattern of trying to bed 007 on sight. There's another KGB man called Kolya (not the one from Icebreaker) and Q Branch's deadly emergency pack proves a worthy successor to the briefcase in Fleming's work.

The revelation that 007's on less of a recue mission and more of a seedy clean-up op rather sticks in the craw. Mistakes creep in, like Bond forgetting the ASP has transparent panels over the clip and weighing it to see if it's loaded. But after his brilliant depiction in Nobody Lives For Ever (James Bond), it's the increasingly pompous and smug 007 that's the big disappointment. Gardner stuck with this characterisation (by and large) throughout the rest of his books, chiefly because he felt Bond wasn't overtly humorous or learned enough. He cuts back on 007's vices: no martinis or bourbons, and for the first time he doesn't smoke a cigarette. Pro-feminist lines like "now dear" and "come on love" are best skipped past, while his irish and chinese impressions are hopefully Bond's attempts at irony.

You become accustomed though, and at least 007's interest in jazz (interpreted from Fleming's books) is welcome. There's some great storytelling here and some of the twists are genuinely surprising. The lunch at Blades is a nice touch, the locations are convincingly described and the last third in Hong Kong is brilliantly written. While a little contrived for some tastes, I love the wonderfully tense, violent and macabre 'battle royale' showdown. A strong Bond story and one of Gardner's most fun.
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on 12 October 2013
We have heard the sentence before. Bond is back. Well, he is. John Gardner actually beat Ian Fleming in the end. He wrote more Bond stories than Fleming. Naturally he can never take credit for having invented the character, but nevertheless he wrote a series of great stories.
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on 13 October 2012
After resurrecting SPECTRE John Gardner now brings back Bond's old enemy SMERSH.
To be honest it doesn't matter what Gardner calls them, the villains in these books are pretty interchangeable, in fact it seems on the names change.
And Gardner's decision to call one of the characters 'Semen' is either a poor joke or a huge oversight.
Like the majority of the Gardner Bond novels, this one is entertaining on a fairly low brow level.
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on 22 July 2015
Impressive stuff. John Gardner gives Ian Fleming a run for his money, bringing Bond into the modern-ish era in a style which probably fits Pierce Brosnan's 007 if anything. Fleming had the tendency to overindulge in unnecessary scenic detail which sometimes made getting from page to page seem a great effort. No such problems here; Gardner's novels seem more stripped down and he shows respect for the Bond in previous book by referring briefly to old missions and the death of his wife to SPECTRE. This link to his past is a nice touch.

The setting of Ireland is intriguing, especially Bond rubbing shoulders with some of the underworld characters and gives this story a real freshness. The plot is packed with twists and turns throughout, and the story never becomes too far-fetched. Bond appears somewhat invincible as always and while Q unfortunately does not show up, the gadgets featured are novel. One criticism; the idea of MI6 recruiting spies aged in their teens is inconceivable and the main one, Bond's latest squeeze Ebbie, is rather annoying at times. Her and Heather seem far too weak and vulnerable to be taken seriously as field agents.

Recommended.
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on 29 January 2013
I did not own a complete set of the John Gardner Bond books. All the titles are not available in the US, so a matched set from the UK was just what I needed.
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on 4 February 2016
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. John Gardner really captures the style of Ian Fleming. A must for any 007 fan
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on 23 June 2015
Another great book from John Gardner lots of twists , and lots of action , from start to finish ,
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