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Case Name: No Deals, Mr Bond|
Author: John Gardner
Villain(s): General Konstantin Chernov
Organization: Department 8 of Directorate S, KGB
Bond Girl(s): Ebbie Heritage; Heather Dare
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Five years after the members of the Cream Cake spy network are disbanded and assigned new identities, the organization formerly known as SMERSH begins to hunt them down, kill them and cut out their tongues. Following a personal request by M, Bond is tasked with rescuing the remaining three members of Cream Cake, without help from MI6 or any other official channel. Upon locating them, Bond finds himself pitted against high-ranking SMERSH officials in a tale of double-crossing, defections and intrigue that brings him through Europe and Hong Kong.
One of the most down-to-earth of Gardner's novels, No Deals, Mr. Bond also happens to be one of his best. Gardner seems to be very comfortable writing about the nuances of human behavior and the interactions between individuals. He truly gets inside Bond's head and spends much of the book focusing on 007 working out one of the most complex assignments of his career. This is a sharp contrast to other Gardner-Bond novels where he spends half the time focused on nonsensical villain plots and absurd methods of blackmail and torture.
It is the realism that makes No Deals, Mr. Bond such a good read. Bond's assignment starts out as a simple recovery and protection operation, something far more realistic for a secret agent than saving the world. As it is a Bond novel, the plot soon is full of twists and turns and surprises, but it still stays grounded in reality. With each revelation of defectors, traitors and M's hidden motives, the story gets more intense. By the time the reader gets to the shocking conclusion, they are truly on the edge of their seat.
Fans who are more keen to the Moonraker and Tomorrow Never Dies style of Bond movies might not find this novel as enjoyable. However, for anyone who has ever picked up Fleming's From Russia With Love and loved every minute of it, this is the Gardner novel for you. He would later reuse the plot for another novel, but this one does it best.
Between the Danish island of Bornholm and the Baltic cost of East
Germany a nuclear submarine of the Royal Navy surfaces under the cloak
of darkness. James Bond and two marines slip quietly from the forward
hatch into their powered inflatable and set off for a lonely beach where
they are to collect two young women who have to get out in their socks.
Planted to seduce communist agents to run for cover in the West, they
have been rumbled by the other side. Bond little knows that this
routine exercise is but the prelude to a nerve-racking game of bluff and
double bluff, played with the consummate skill by his own chief M
against the East German HVA and the élite branch of the KGB, formed out
of Bond’s old adversary SMERSH.
Bond finds he needs all his wits to negotiate the labyrinth of
double-crossing that is to lead him to a bewildering showdown in a
remote corner of the Kowloon province of Hong Kong. There, with only
the trusted belt of secret weapons specially devised by Q branch, he has
to fight a terrifying duel in the dark, with all the cards in the hands
of his opponents.
Review submitted by Eric Nisbet