Saturday, 5 March 2011
THE COMPLETE LITERARY 007 - Nobody Lives Forever
En route to retrieve his faithful housekeeper, May, from a European health clinic where she is recovering from an illness, Bond is warned by the British Secret Service that Tamil Rahani, the current leader of SPECTRE, now dying from wounds suffered due to his last encounter with Bond (as described in Role of Honour), has put a price on Bond's head. "Trust no one," Bond is warned. Soon after, May and Miss Moneypenny, who had been visiting his housekeeper are reported missing, and Bond finds himself dodging would-be assassins while searching for his friends, assisted by a young débutante and her capable, yet mysterious, female bodyguard.
"Take care, 007. The continents a hotbed of villainy these days, and you can never be too careful."
Bond is on the run with the best and most ruthless killers on his tail, which leads for some great suspense and once again Bond doesn't seem so indestructible. Author John Gardner concocted the plot based on feedback from his friends when asked what they would like to see in the next adventure: a personal story won over a regular spy mission. Regular first edition artist Richard Chopping again provided the cover, but this was the last time the author would contribute to a Bond novel, which was a shame because the artist had also provided the first edition artwork for many of Fleming's best Bond books.
Gardner's characterisation of Bond is stronger than ever in this book, and we get a lot of detail that helps flush the character out, which results in this book actually feeling Flemingish rather than EONish. The Bond books, particularly those post Fleming, are by their very nature predictable but Gardner manages to surprise the reader several times during the course of the narrative.
Nobody Lives Forever remains one of Gardner's best even if SPECTRE was getting a bit long in the tooth by this time.