Thursday, May 14, 2015

"007: Solo" - A James Bond Novel by William Boyd

Solo is a good enough title for a 007 novel..Africa is a nice location for a James Bond adventure...but is busting a drug trafficking ring within Bond's bailiwick? For the most part, the book reads like Doctor No without Doctor No.

Another brickbat is that the Bond featured here doesn't seem like the 007..he reads more like Roger Moore as Simon Templar ( The Saint ) or Patrick McGoohan as John Drake ( Secret Agent / Danger Man / The Prisoner ) in an adventure fitting those characters better than 007. With Bond...even if you want to show him mellow out with age - his OCD-like fussy particularity, immortalized by his request for a dry martini - shaken, not stirred in the films, is mostly absent - he has to be in a casino, playing a round of Texas Hold 'em/Bridge/Baccarat/Candy Crush/golf/Go Fish with a meglomanic, and drive a more luxurious car than a Jensen - sorry, William, but I thought we all learned after John Gardner put Bond behind the wheel of a Saab, that any car replacing the Aston Martin has to rival the Aston Martin...Although I couldn't resist using that fanmade variant cover to headline this opposed to the real covers used for Solo, which resemble a sequel to Norton Juster's The Hole Book ( the UK edition ) or the title sequence in Dynasty/The Colbys.

At least we get a scene with Q, who is clearly meant to be Ben Whishaw's Q, which is kind of confusing, because the novel is supposed to be set in 1969, which means we do get to choose between picturing the George Lazenby Bond of On Her Majesty's Secret Service or the Sean Connery of Diamonds Are Forever as Bond in Solo (I was picturing Connery), or, judging by the cozy gadgets offered, David Niven as Sir James Bond ( from the pseudo-psychedelic adaptation of Casino Royale ), but certainly not Daniel Craig, so why couldn't Q be written like Desmond Llewellyn if you're going pseudo-retro?

So the book isn't really bad..but it's more frog than prince.

And Simon Templar drove a Volvo in the TV series, so the Jensen would be an upgrade for him...better let The Saint Step In...

Bah, da-da, da-da-daaaa, daaahhh...

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