Shelf Aware - Carte Blanche 007

Originally published 8/14/11

With every property getting a reboot these days 007 was one that sorely needed it. The resulting work ushers in a new era for James Bond and modernizes his world to be contemporary, complex and compelling. 

Carte Blanche re-establishes James Bond for 2011 and gives us actual insight into his character. A veteran of Afghanistan, recruited into an off the books division of MI6 known as The Overseas Development Group, Jeffery Deaver goes to great and effective lengths to balance the mundane paperwork of something like the Department of Homeland Security with the high impact exploits of what we've come to think of the 00 section. He even goes so far as to include a glossary for all the 3 letter acronyms. 

As for the plot itself, Bond finds himself traveling to Serbia, London, Dubai and finally South Africa. He spends most of the novel in Cape Town which was interesting because to my knowledge Bond has never had an adventure in South Africa. I won't give away too much, but the threat that James Bond is battling against never looms too large. Obviously Bond must save the day, but the "epic-ness" of it all never really hits home. Some 007 novels have plots where Bond has to save the entire world and others are a bit smaller in scope. This would be one of the "smaller" novels, although the ramifications of his actions do have broader implications. 

Had I not known better I would have been convinced that Jeffery Deaver was British (it's amazing how far replacing a few z's with s's and mixing in some colloquialisms can get you). Although, the Harry Potter and Dr. Who references felt a little forced. 

Deaver, a massively famous mystery writer, does a great job ratcheting up tension, dangling clues and delivering plot twists (of which there are plenty). My only complaint is that the novel is backloaded with an info-dump in the last couple of chapters that explain everything you've been reading up to that point. Although, it will definitely make a re-read of this novel more fun. 

Jeffery Deaver was a perfect selection to write 007's new beginning and I am definitely looking forward to his next foray in the series (if there is a next). His writing style is sophisticated but not overly flowery and he was a much welcomed change of pace from the Raymond Benson 007 novels I have read up until now. 

If you've never read a James Bond novel or you prefer a bit more realism in your spy fiction, this is definitely the place to start!