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American writer Jeffry Deaver to pen latest James Bond novel

May 28, 2010

Daniel Craig's Bond not only has a license to kill, but also a gym membership.

No offense to Jeffrey Deaver, a perfectly entertaining thriller writer, but news that he’s been tapped to pen a new James Bond novel can only be met with weary resignation. On the bright side, the announcement provides a dandy excuse to run this screaming hot photo of Daniel Craig.

Craig, the latest  Bond incarnation in the longest-running film franchise in history, is on vacation these days. His third turn as 007, dubbed “Bond 23,” is on indefinite hiatus due to money woes at MGM.

That hardly counts as a disappointment after the dispiriting second Craig-as-Bond picture, Quantum of Solace (what does that even mean?!?). A grim revenge fantasy, it played more like an international update of Death Wish than a globetrotting adventure by a debonair spy.

Still, Q-o-S earned $586 mil worldwide, according to the Guardian, following $594 mil for Casino Royale, the first film featuring Craig as a buff blond Bond, so more movies are inevitable, however tiresome they may be.

Back to Deaver: “I can’t describe the thrill I felt when first approached by Ian Fleming’s estate to ask if I’d be interested in writing the next book in the James Bond series,” he told London’s Daily Telegraph.

A much-lauded author of 26 novels (with 20 million copies sold worldwide), Deaver is best known for his series featuring forensics genius Lincoln Rhyme. One of these, The Bone Collector, was made into a 1999 movie starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie.

Ian Fleming --note the tux, the cigarette: the real James Bond?

The selection of an American writer–Deaver was born in Chicago and now lives in North Carolina– to pick up the mantle of Ian Fleming is no odder than the casting of Craig — he’s blond, for pete’s sake! — and that worked out well enough.

But while I have no doubt Deaver will produce a credible thriller, I just wish the whole thing would go away. Ian Fleming’s 007 was a product of World War II — World War II! — and an avatar of the Cold War. He gained fame as President John F. Kennedy’s favorite light reading. He was the coolest guy with short hair in the 1960s.

If he were an actual person, he’d be, like, 85 years old — at least! Kids today, taking in the kinetic sadism of Quantum of Solace as just another soulless diversion on a menu of like fare — Transformers II, G.I. Joe, Iron Man II–have no idea what a big deal Bond meant to the ’60s.

Back then, when I was a wee lad myself, Bond was a leading expression of the age — as potent a figure as the Beatles, or Andy Warhol, or Sandy Koufax, or Frank Sinatra, or Raquel Welch in animal skins. Transporting him to the second decade of the 21st century is a kind of cultural sacrilege. Worse — it’s meaningless.

Besides, how could any fresh iteration of James Bond top the 2008 effort, Devil May Care, by Sebastian Faulks? Casting aside decades of updated Bond pastiches by the likes of John Gardner and others too numerous to mention (or care about), Faulks made the gutsy choice to set his novel in 1967 and attempt to revive the feel and authenticity of the Fleming books.

Jeffrey Deaver

A terrific literary writer, with acclaimed novels like Charlotte Grey and Birdsong, Faulks did the job, as I noted in a review of the book, “with admirable style and verve,” and yet it was a job that did not need doing. Nothing was added to what Fleming got out of the character in the 13 canonical books written between 1953(!) and 1964.

But Devil May Care was a big bestseller — in England it was Penguin UK’s fastest-selling hardcover ever — so a sequel is pre-ordained.

I had a brief stirring of interest when I read Deaver plans to place Bond in the present day — an 85-year-old spy could be a fascinating wrinkle — but then I realized I was being silly. Deaver’s contemporary Bond will be young. Never mind.

At least Deaver, as he prepares to write a redundant book, says the right things. “I learned, through osmosis as well as design, much technique from Mr Fleming’s work: compactness, attention to detail, heroic though flawed characters, fast-pacing, concrete imagery and straightforward prose.”

Today is Ian Fleming’s birthday. He would be 102. May he rest in peace.

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. rachel permalink
    May 28, 2010 2:36 pm

    If we were to take the authors at face value and judge them based on what we can tell from their photos then we need not ever even pick up a James Bond novel by Jeffrey Deaver. You may argue that judgments based on image are apt to be a bit shallow, I disagree. I think you can tell much from a person’s face and what is in their eyes. Compare the two photos above. What do you see? It seems to me that they tell me everything I need to know.

    Interesting blog Chauncey Mabe.

    • Tommy Smart permalink
      May 28, 2010 2:52 pm

      Your comment seems to be one of a truly close-minded, elitist, little girl. I ask, not condemn, “Is that who you are?”

      There is a difference between an author and his work, is there not? And there is a difference between what is caught on film and what is really there, is there not?

      What you see in the pictures is your interpretation of the men pictured. Not the man, not the work.

  2. Chauncey Mabe permalink*
    May 28, 2010 2:44 pm

    Well, I’d admit it is a little unfair to the bookish Mr. Deaver to post his photo next to Ian Fleming’s — whose worldly, lived-in face suggests just that debonair combination of British decadence, elegance, snobbery, sexism, cruelty, intelligence and wounded idealism that we’ve come to associate with James Bond.

  3. Chauncey Mabe permalink*
    May 28, 2010 2:45 pm

    I mean: Imagine yourself at a dinner party — which of these men would you rather sit next to?

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      May 28, 2010 2:46 pm

      Let me hasten to add, however: Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme thrillers are quite skillfully rendered.

  4. Tommy Smart permalink
    May 28, 2010 2:58 pm

    This Deaver following Fleming reminds me of the Colfer following Adams debacle.

    Bond, James Bond, should be retired. The opening scene of Casino Royale was spectacular, but the franchise has floundered since. You are right, Chauncey, 007 has no place in 2010.

    I like Daniel Craig, especially in is British Gangster film roles like “Layer Cake”. I even thought some black hair die and he would have made an excellent Superman.

    80 year old spy, are they going to try to do the old-guy hands down his craft storyline on 007. It worked in the Batman comics, but I seriously doubt it will in this case.

    Virgin Martini for me, please, shaken not stirred.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      May 28, 2010 4:45 pm

      I am sure Deaver is not going to do an old-guy Bond, however much I might wish for it. No, we’ll get a Gen-X or Y Bond, as unstuck from time as Dr. Who on a bad day….

  5. Diana permalink
    May 28, 2010 3:21 pm

    Hmm, I think the authors of James Bond novels ought to at least resemble Ian Fleming if they can’t approximate a decent Daniel Craig.

  6. Chauncey Mabe permalink*
    May 28, 2010 4:46 pm

    I could not agree more. In fact, Tommy’s arch idealism notwithstanding, I think superficiality is an undervalued virtue. I make no apologies for mine.

  7. Sean permalink
    May 28, 2010 5:45 pm

    Remember the Vin Diesel movie in which a tuxedoed Bond type gets his ass kicked at a rave?

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      May 28, 2010 7:48 pm

      Yeah, that was Triple X, right? Hilarious. Otherwise: So-so.

  8. May 30, 2010 5:37 pm

    Quantum of Solace – does that mean a tiny bit of solace? Is there a wee bit of solace in the movie? I haven’t seen it.

  9. Chauncey Mabe permalink*
    May 30, 2010 10:04 pm

    No, there is not a wee bit of anything, but there is a great deal of unrelieved tension and violence. It’s not without style, but it is wholly lacking in wit.

    • May 31, 2010 8:49 pm

      I’ll skip that one then. There’s more than enough violence everywhere I turn and none of it stylish.

      • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
        May 31, 2010 9:39 pm

        And little of it is witty — though when it is, the combo can be potent.

  10. Sean permalink
    June 1, 2010 1:05 pm

    Solace by the dram is preferred.

  11. Candice Simmons permalink
    June 1, 2010 1:30 pm

    James Bond is Mr. Cool and maybe so was Ian Fleming. But I’d sit next to Deaver for dinner. I think he looks interesting. Rachel–you can have what’s left…

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