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Case Name: Brokenclaw|
Author: John Gardner
Villain(s): Brokenclaw Lee Fu-Chu
Bond Girl(s): Sue Chu-Fi
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Under M's orders to "get away for a while," Brokenclaw begins innocently enough, with James Bond on vacation in Vancouver, Canada. It is there that he first lays eyes on Brokenclaw Lee, a large half Chinese, half Crow Indian man with hypnotic qualities. Sneaking into a museum to hear the man speak, Bond is intrigued by his ability to hold an audience captive by his words alone. However, before any contact is made M summons Bond to San Francisco, California for a new mission.
This mission, it turns out, is the infiltration of Brokenclaw Lee's organization in an attempt to stop him from selling Red China plans to a top secret submarine tracking device and its "antidote". In what seems to be a trend in Gardner novels, Bond has a female partner; this time named Su-Chi Ho, Chi-Chi for short. Together they pose as the two operatives sent from China to obtain the plans, infiltrate Brokenclaw's operation and save the day in the end.
Let me start out my review with my largest complaint about the novel; it seems as if nothing happens. Bond often finds himself posing as someone else to get close to a villain or find out some key information about a plot. However, in Brokenclaw there is nothing else. The bulk of the book involves Bond and Chi-Chi in Brokenclaw's house, learning about his evil intentions. When the Bond finds out that Brokenclaw's true plot is the destruction of the world financial markets it is not due to Bond's cunning or an intense scene with the villain, it is because Brokenclaw shows him during a tour of his compound.
Other than that complaint, Brokenclaw is an enjoyable. The plot, while somewhat simplistic, carries the book along from start to finish. The secondary characters see a lot of page time, especially Ed Ruisha, who is my favorite person in the book. Gardner really takes time to set up a background and personality for Ruisha so when he comes through in the clutch the reader is rooting for him. The point where the novel truly shines is in the end sequence. (If you do not want to know how the book ends please skip to the next paragraph.) In the final showdown with Brokenclaw, Bond must undergo the O-kee-pa ritual, an elaborate test of strength and will against some of the most intense torture Bond has ever withstood. This chapter truly shows how firm Bond's resolve and courage are.
In conclusion, Brokenclaw is an average entry into the Bond literature cannon. For a quick read it is worth picking up.
“For the first time in months, James Bond was interested in something.”
Bond was bored and resentful. Bored with sitting behind a desk,
shuffling bits of paper around. Resentful that M seemed to have left
him to rot. A threat of resignation and he’d been packed off on
But it was on holiday on Vancouver Island that life began to look up.
Brokenclaw Lee, half-Chinese, half-Crow Indian caught his attention. A
huge man who exuded power and ruthlessness.
Then, summoned to San Francisco, Bond had learnt more about the
mysterious Mr. Lee and his underworld empire. Learnt about the five
missing scientists and their ultra-secret work. He’d met his new and
beautiful partner Chi-Chi.
Suddenly life was interesting again. And very, very dangerous.
Review submitted by Eric Nisbet