Title: Carte Blanche
Author: Jeffery Deaver
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Carte Blanche is a James Bond novel written by Jeffery Deaver, commissioned by Ian Fleming Publications. Carte Blanche is the thirty-seventh original James Bond novel and the first to have a contemporary setting since The Man with the Red Tattoo by Raymond Benson was published in 2002.
Carte Blanche updates James Bond’s backstory to fit with the 21st century setting, making it the first ever reboot of the literary James Bond series. Deaver’s James Bond will have been born in 1979, making him a veteran of the war in Afghanistan instead of a World War II veteran and Cold War secret agent as originally conceived by creator Ian Fleming.
Set in mid-2011, the story takes place over the course of a week. James Bond is a former Royal Naval Reserve officer who has recently joined the Overseas Development Group (ODG) – a covert operational unit of British security, tasked “to identify and eliminate threats to the country by extraordinary means.” Bond is employed within the 00 Section of the Operations Branch.
The story starts off with Bond in Novi Sad, Serbia, where Bond meets one of the antagonists, Niall Dunne. Bond manages to botch Dunne’s attempt to derail a train, and that ends with a car chase around Novi Sad.
The ODG is able to establish a connection to Green Way International, a waste disposal consortium, owned by Severan Hydt.
Bond turns his attention to Green Way International, led by the enigmatic Severan Hydt. Hydt made his fortune in the disposal of waste. He has an intense fascination with death and decay.
Bond starts to investigate Hydt when intelligence surfaces suggesting he is also known as ‘Noah‘ and a key player in the derailment in Serbia, which is believed to be a prelude to a much bigger attack, under the name of Gehenna, which might be catastrophic to many nations.
This sets off a series of events that start in Britian, moves to Dubai, and ends up in Cape Town, South Africa.
Linking up with local police in Cape Town, Bond manages to infiltrate Hydt’s operations in South Africa. While under cover he meets up with Felicity Willing, the owner of an international food distribution organization that is supported by Hydt.
But things aren’t as they seem and with Bond uncovering that a Gehenna is mere days away, the clock starts ticking to what is sure to be an action-packed conclusion.
As stated above, Carte Blanche is essentially a reboot of James Bond. Deaver delves quite deep into the “new” Bond’s psyche. This actually had me a bit uncomfortable, as I’ve never seen Bond in such a way. There’s also a sub-plot concerning his parents.
Also, the cars, drinks and gadgets have changed. Bond drives a Bentley. Yes, a Bentley. And in the story he also drives a Mini Cooper S and in Cape Town, his car is a Subaru WRX STi. And his main gadget now, is his phone, designed by Q department (yes, Q is not a person anymore, but a whole department), that looks almost like an iPhone, dubbed the iQPhone. Oh, Judy Dench could definitely not play M anymore, as that person is now a man.
Being a Capetonian, I liked that it played out in Cape Town, recognizing a lot of the landmarks and places, and even some botched Afrikaans spelling. Even Bond’s cover name in Cape Town is Gene Theron!
Some of the “new” Bond concept I liked, but Deaver delved too deep into his “whodunit” style of thriller, rather than let Bond run rampant through the pages. Overall, a good thriller but not the best Bond story I’ve read. The reboot idea might also offend quite a few die-hard fans. Be warned.