American writer Jeffry Deaver to pen latest James Bond novel
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.
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.
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.