Carte Blanche by Jeffrey Deaver. Reviewed by Louise Hilton.
Jeffery Deaver had big shoes to fill when he was tapped to write the latest James Bond novel, but the result of his efforts – Carte Blanche – is an overall success. Deaver’s 007 is a 21st-century spy, one who must contend with the new face of terrorism and the uncertain world in which we live. The modern-day Bond is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who, having proved his mettle in combat, was recruited to work for a covert organization unofficially connected to MI6 named Overseas Development Group, or ODG.
Bond’s colleagues decrypt a message about an impending attack on British subjects, with casualties estimated in the thousands. He has no idea when or where the attack is to take place but he has less than a week to find out and prevent the massacre. The timeliness of the novel and the fact that Bond is given essentially a free pass (carte blanche) when dealing with some brutal characters who deserve what’s coming to them make for a satisfying read.
This is definitely not your grandfather’s Bond, however, and nowhere is this more evident than in his interactions with the women in his life. The female characters in Carte Blanche are strong, hard-working, and do not suffer fools lightly. One stand-out character is Ophelia (“Philly”) Maidenstone, Bond’s colleague at ODG. Not only is she impossibly beautiful, Philly is every bit his match in terms of intellect and wit. He can’t quite seem to shake her from his thoughts, even when wining and dining another woman (he’s still James Bond, after all). Could it be that Bond 2.0 has a sensitive side?
Before you cry blasphemy, don’t worry – James is still a tough guy. True to his predecessor Ian Fleming’s form, Deaver’s Bond novel is full of twists and turns, keeping the reader guessing until the very last chapter. And it wouldn’t be a true 007 story without its fair share of beautiful women, fast cars, and complicated gadgets. I encourage you to check out Carte Blanche – it is fast-paced, well-written, and definitely worth a read.