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Case Name: Death Is Forever|
Author: John Gardner
Villain(s): Wolfgang Weisen
Bond Girl(s): Easy St. John
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Much like the KGB ran Russia with an iron fist, the HVA controlled much of East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The biggest thorn in their side was a group of elite British spies code-named Cabal. When Germany was reunited, Cabal remained in the country and continued to gather intelligence. That is, until they began to be murdered, one at a time. By the time Death is Forever begins, the spies who are still alive have all scattered and are no longer in constant contact. Two reconnaissance officers who have been assigned to discover what has happened to Cabal both meet untimely deaths just as they are about to make contact.
This is where James Bond and his new partner, Elizabeth Zara St. John, come in. Elizabeth Zara, Easy for short, is relatively new to the spy world and Bond is quite unsure about how to handle her. While building trust together, Bond and Easy find themselves tracking down the surviving members of Cabal, a few at a time. However, nothing is ever as it seems in this novel. It is hard to keep up with all the doublecrossing and plot twists.
It turns out that Wolgang Weisen, a man who was raised by his Uncle Stalin (as in THE Stalin), has turned recruited some members of Cabal for his plan. Weisen is upset about the fall of the Berlin Wall and the spread of democracy around the world. His plan is to blow up a train that will be carrying every major world leader through the first ride through the Chunnel. Needless to say he almost succeeds until Bond comes through and saves the day.
The plot twists in Death is Forever are both the strong and weak point of the novel. In one sense, it is not a traditional tale as Bond never knows who to trust and is on his guard the entire adventure. This makes for very exciting storytelling and edge-of-your-seat reading. At the same time, Gardner has Bond meeting so many people at so many points in the novel that no one gets enough character development time.
Death is Forever is also a very gruesome book, with Bond killing more people than usual. This does not take anything away from the novel; rather, it makes a more realistic Bond. Despite the character development issues, this is still one of Gardner's best books and is a must read for the Bond literature fan.
Before the Berlin Wall came down, Cabal had been the West’s most
successful intelligence network in the East.
Now someone is killing its former operatives, one by one.
Of the original thirty members of Cabal, only ten remained alive. Six
had died from natural causes, six were irretrievably missing, presumed
dead, and eight - Vanya and Eagle had discovered - had been killed in
accidents which could not have been mischances.
Revenge? Or something more?
Then two experienced case officers, sent to contact the remaining Cabal
agents, are killed in turn.
James Bond and the CIA’s Elizabeth Zara - known as “Easy” St. John - are
ordered in to pick up the pieces. And uncover a fanatical conspiracy,
dedicated to the destruction of democracy right across Europe.
Review submitted by Eric Nisbet