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11 October 2013

William Boyd: Solo

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A new look at James Bond
Confession: While I read a lot of thrillers I can't remember if I ever read any of the 12 original James Bond novels by Ian Fleming and I have probably fallen asleep in most James Bond movies that are re-run regularly on pay TV. I prefer to read about a character in a book as most thriller movies sensationalise the heroes and make them do impossible things.

William Boyd is the latest novelist to write James Bond continuation works (the most notable being Sebastian Faulks and Jeffrey Deaver). Boyd approaches this according to the chronology of his Bond's life set by Fleming where Bond was born in 1924 and the action takes place in the the late 1960's. This makes things much more believable to me.

The renowned "M" sends Bond on a solo job to assassinate a rebel leader and stop a civil war in an African country where vast oil deposits have just been discovered. Bond has to travel to the heart of the war on his own without much understanding of the country or what is happening. Of course, along the way, he gets romantically involved with a couple of beautiful women, one of them an agent apparently sent to help him. Of course there is the prime baddie, Kobus, a battle scarred Rhodesian mercenary with a penchant for extreme violence. There is more to the plot than just stopping the war and when the story moves to America things get a bit unbelievable.

All in all I enjoyed this book because Boyd brings back the real Bond who is an intelligent and effective intelligence agent, not a super hero.  While there is plenty of action it is not over the top and reasonably believable. This is a James Bond who enjoys his food and liquor, fast cars (this time a V8 Jenson Interceptor GT car built at that time), and of course beautiful women.

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