The Facts of Death

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Overview

Now Benson takes Bond to the heart of a fanatical cult whose sinister ideology is shrouded in the teachings of the ancient Greek mathematician Pythagoras. The members of the cult are committed to following their brilliant and mad leader on a series of numbered missions, each one more diabolical than the last. When M's lover, Great Britain's "Goodwill Ambassador to the World," is murdered by a stranger whose umbrella tip bears a tiny capsule of ricin poison and who leaves behind a scrawled "4," Bond is called on ...
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Overview

Now Benson takes Bond to the heart of a fanatical cult whose sinister ideology is shrouded in the teachings of the ancient Greek mathematician Pythagoras. The members of the cult are committed to following their brilliant and mad leader on a series of numbered missions, each one more diabolical than the last. When M's lover, Great Britain's "Goodwill Ambassador to the World," is murdered by a stranger whose umbrella tip bears a tiny capsule of ricin poison and who leaves behind a scrawled "4," Bond is called on to halt the escalating body count of the Number Killer. In a hunt that takes him from the back roads of Texas to the crumbling ruins of Greece, he must use both cunning and brute force to stay ahead of the grand plan of the Monad, the mastermind behind the cult and the killings.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
July 1998

When Ian Fleming created his larger-than-life character, James Bond, did he have any idea that Bond would outlive him? Fleming — who had a penchant for giving sexy women sexually explicit names (even in his children's book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, replete with Bondian gadgets, the woman was named Truly Scrumptious, the G-rated version of the Bond girls' names) — was a master of the short stroke. Fleming's Bond novels were fast reads, heterosexual males' fantasies rolled up into one very suave character, and nearly a spoof of the British way of doing things. After Fleming's death, John Gardner took over the series, and although his books were certainly entertaining, I felt they lacked something. Happily, since Raymond Benson has taken over the James Bond franchise in books, new and exciting life has come into them.

James Bond is back. And he's on one of his most explosive missions ever. Sounds like good hype, huh? But let me tell you, in The Facts of Death, Benson does something very smart. He ties Bond's adventures into real-world issues and genuine threats. The book opens with a man who is recuperating after gall bladder surgery in a veteran's hospital in Los Angeles. Very quickly, he dies under mysterious circumstances. Then, soon after, anyone who has come into contact with him dies, victims of some kind of virus. We flash over to the island of Cyprus, where James Bond and others are in protective gear, studying an American barracks in which all the men have died, again of some mysterious ailment. Bond is in fine form,particularlywhen he meets sexy Niki Mirakos, who is with the Greek secret service, and invites her to shower with him. Niki wisely declines. As Bond gets under the spray himself to wash off the day's dirt, he detects a poison gas being released from the shower nozzle. Chasing down the bad guy who did this is one thing, but then James Bond leaps aboard the hijacked helicopter that the crew of bad guys has in their possession. The real Bond is back.

Surviving this is, of course, a piece of cake for James Bond, as any reader coming to this book will know. Half the fun is seeing what gadgets James will bring to the party, and in The Facts of Death, they are real treats. Also, car lovers will enjoy the specialized Jaguar that Bond gets as his big toy, which includes viscous fluid to fill up the spaces left by attacks on the car, thus "healing" the vehicle. As the plot thickens and the terrorist group behind these seemingly random attacks makes itself known, we get to see old Bond friends, like the original M, as well as the newer M. Sure, James Bond is a holdover from the martini-and-cigarette set of the 1960s, and sure, his attitude toward women, however well he treats them in other arenas, is mainly drawn from the bedroom fantasies of thousands of college freshmen; but still, James is an institution worthy of a tip of the hat. Besides that, this novel crackles with excitement as the story rolls to its tense climax.

For James Bond enthusiasts, this is the book to read. It's great, page-turning summer reading, and Benson does Fleming proud. The Facts of Death is heartily recommended for any reader who loves a dashing hero, sexy women, and mind-blowing action sequences. I'll have my next martini shaken, not stirred.

—Douglas Clegg

Douglas Clegg is the author of numerous horror and suspense novels, including Dark of the Eye and The Children's Hour. His recent critically acclaimed short story, "O, Rare and Most Exquisite," can be found in the anthology The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Volume 10.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Led by a hypnotic, self-styled Greek demigod, the villainous Decada Cabal prove insanely worthy adversaries for 007 as they plan chemical and biological revenge against Turkey (and any country they perceive as its allies) in the immortal SIS agent's new outing. Benson (Zero Minus Ten; The James Bond Bedside Companion) cues off the latest Bond reels by setting up his female "M" (head of SIS) with Alfred Hutchinson, a suspicious politico linked to the Decada. When he is murdered, Bond goes to Texas in search of Hutchinson's missing son, reunites with American agent Felix Leiter (now confined to a wheelchair), stumbles onto the source for the Decada's chemical and biological weapons and follows the trail back to Greece. Sexual subterfugeever Bond's betrayer and salvationlands him in the clutches of Konstantine Romanos, mad leader of the Decada, and the result is several quintessential 007 escape/rescue scenes (aided by a luscious Greek agent) before the final showdown under a nuclear shadow on Cyprus. Edgar winner Benson pays homage to Fleming's plots in an amusing inventory of Bond's scars; touchingly ages Leiter, loyal Miss Moneypenny and long-suffering arms maven Boothroyd; and imbues his Bond with enough honor, sexual prowess and action-hero skills to please the purist and enthrall the novice.
Kirkus Reviews
The fate of the world, and James Bond, are in capable hands in this second 007 adventure from Benson (Zero Minus Ten, 1997). Writing as both a disciple and defender of Western civilization's most enduring action hero, Benson, a director of the Ian Fleming Foundation and author of the fan bible, the James Bond Bedside Companion, attempts to meld Fleming's brooding, coolly cruel British knight with the dapper, quip-slinging techno-warrior of the Bond movies, with a few respectful bows to the superhuman stuntman Bond became when British thriller-factory John Gardner had an exclusive franchise on the series. All the canonical elements are in place—the Flemingesque fetish for brand names (we're informed that Bond's crippled American sidekick, former CIA agent Felix Leiter, now zooms about in a high-speed Action Arrow motorized wheelchair), a demented, megalomaniacal father figure villain (Konstantine Romanos, an independently wealthy mathematics professor who thinks he's the reincarnation of Pythagoras), the ultimate car (a self-driving Jaguar XK8 with more gadgets than the Batmobile but, alas, no ejection seat), the corny sex jokes (Bond seduces the statuesque female director of a sperm bank who extracts her sample from 007 as passionately as possible), a superbly furnished techno-fortress with a hidden superweapon, and, most infamously, a harem of beautiful, accomplished women, some of whom are bisexual, all of whom can't resist Bond's darkly handsome charms. The plot, meanwhile, is standard Bond, with Romanos using designer weaponry to kill numerous innocent people, with a purloined Pershing missile being readied for launch. Between the requisite scenes of sex, violence, anddestruction, Benson's Bond occasionally succumbs to existential gloom, but never fails to do the right thing for Queen and country. A postmodern treat for fans and newcomers that lovingly, if not ironically, duplicates a formula so familiar that originality would be sacrilege.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780515125504
  • Publisher: Jove
  • Publication date: 7/15/1999
  • Series: James Bond Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 290
  • Product dimensions: 4.12 (w) x 6.72 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Raymond Benson is the author of The Facts of Death, Zero Minus Ten, High Time to Kill and the novelizations of Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough. He is a director of The Ian Fleming Foundation. Benson lives and works in the Chicago area.
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Table of Contents

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Interviews & Essays

On Thursday, July 2nd, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Raymond Benson to discuss THE FACTS OF DEATH.


Moderator: Welcome, Raymond Benson. Thank you for joining us online tonight. How are you doing this warm July evening?

Raymond Benson: Hello, hello! I'm fine, sitting here in my T-shirt and shorts. Hope everyone else is comfortable.


L. Keur from New Jersey: I loved the direction you took this book in. What exactly did you see in Pythagoras? Did you always have somewhat of an interest or fondness for Pythagoras?

Raymond Benson: No, I was terrible at math. Actually, I was researching Greek mythology because I wanted to set the story in that area of the world. A friend of mine in Athens suggested that I look into mathematicians, and I discovered that Pythagoras had this weird cult behind him, and I thought wouldn't it be neat if someone twisted his philosophies?


M.R. from Texas: First I am delighted that you are the featured guest here...and...I particularly want to know how many times 007 has been in Texas? Will he be coming back?

Raymond Benson: He went to Texas in John Gardner's book FOR SPECIAL SERVICES, and in my book, THE FACTS OF DEATH. Felix Leiter, his American pal, is a Texan.


Pac87@aol.com from XX: What exactly is the Ian Fleming Foundation?

Raymond Benson: It's not a fan club, although it looks like one. It's a not-for-profit organization that publishes a literary magazine called Goldeneye and does other things to raise money, with the ultimate goal of erecting a permanent museum of Bond and Fleming memorabilia. There are Fleming family members on the board, as well as some serious Bond enthusiasts. Check out how to subscribe/join at www.ianfleming.org


Timothy from Metaire, LA: Do you know what the next Bond movie will be?

Raymond Benson: I'm afraid not. They are still working on the script.


Bill Kanas from New York: Hi, Raymond! First, for anyone who has not yet read THE FACTS OF DEATH, let me say it is excellent. It is a terrific Bond adventure and should definitely appeal to fans of the series, both the books and films, as there are welcome continuity references as well as superb character development. However, new fans, and even people who have never read a Bond book but only enjoy 007 from the films, should also have a great time, as it is a top-notch adventure. Now for a question -- are there any plans to bring more characters from Bond's past into your books, as with the wonderful cameo in THE FACTS OF DEATH (I won't spoil it here) of an old Bond ally, and of course, Felix Leiter's extended presence?

Raymond Benson: Yes, I plan to do that as much as possible. It was a lot of fun bringing in the old M (Sir Miles) and James Molony, and other familiar faces. I try to link my series with Fleming's as much as possible.


Deborah from Boca Raton, FL: What inspired you to create a villain who believes he's the reincarnation of Pythagoras? (I'm just now reading the chapter where he's introduced.)

Raymond Benson: As I said before, I was researching mathematicians and came upon him. He had all this weird stuff with triangles and monads and duads and vegetarianism.... He had "students" who weren't allowed to speak, only listen.... Then his followers carried on for some time after his death.


Melissa from Oak Park, IL: I am sure you get this all the time, but who do you think is the best actor to have played Bond? Dalton?

Raymond Benson: Sean Connery will always be my favorite because I grew up with him. But I think Timothy Dalton was the most "accurate" in terms of what Fleming wrote.


Charlie from Boston, MA: Good evening, Mr. Benson. How much of an influence were the original Bond books? How "close to the script" did you stay?

Raymond Benson: The original Fleming books are a big influence. They were what really made me a Bond fan for life. I've tried my best to bring back Fleming's Bond -- the hard-drinking, hard-smoking, womanizing rake we all know and love!


Scott Ehlers from Westwood, CA: Who do you think is the best Bond director? Are you at all involved in the movie production? Any screenwriting in the future?

Raymond Benson: Terence Young, definitely. He created the style of the films, and IMHO the first two are the best in the series. I'm not involved at all with the films, although I wrote the novelization of TOMORROW NEVER DIES.


Peter Kim from Springfield, VA: Are there any plans on making either ZERO MINUS TEN or THE FACTS OF DEATH into movies?

Raymond Benson: I'm keeping my fingers crossed!


Deborah from Boca Raton, FL: Any chance THE JAMES BOND BEDSIDE COMPANION will be updated and published in the near future? It is the definitive guide to the world of 007!

Raymond Benson: Thank you. No, there are no plans at the moment. It's strange, I've tried to get it republished, but no publishers are interested. They feel it's "had its day." I suppose now there are several other books out there that they perceive as competition. It's also a bit tricky now that I'm the Bond author -- how do I critique myself?


John from JWC901@aol.com: Who is your favorite Bond villain?

Raymond Benson: Goldfinger in the films, Hugo Drax in the books.


Brian from Hoboken, NJ: Good evening, Mr. Benson. What type of research do you do for your Bond books? Do you research Bond's character? How is that done?

Raymond Benson: I do tons of research, including traveling to the locations. For THE FACTS OF DEATH I visited Greece and Cyprus. Cyprus was very cool, walking across the Green Line between the Greek section and the Turkish section. The U.N. peacekeeping troops were eyeing me the whole time. No photographs allowed. Tanks...overturned cars still there from 1974...a real no-man's-land.


Montgomery from Livingston, NJ: Do you think Bond is timeless? How difficult is it to have his character adapt to the times? How does the '90s Bond differ from the '60s Bond? Does he even?

Raymond Benson: I think the character of Bond is timeless. He is an archetype. The '90s Bond differs from the '60s Bond only in the things around him. He is basically the same! (In my books, that is.)


Montgomery from Cherry Hill, NC: Do you think your Bond books have a style of their own? I remember reading countless Bond books as a kid and having such fond memories.... Are your books similar to the "old school" Bond books? Thanks, just asking.

Raymond Benson: I like to think so, or at least I hope so. I'll never write like Ian Fleming, but hopefully I've been able to capture his world -- the feel of his books and the character.


Derek from Hanover, NH: Do you have a favorite Bond movie? What about a few of your favorite Bond movies? Why?

Raymond Benson: FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE is my favorite Bond movie and book. I also like "Dr. No," "Goldfinger," "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," and "Thunderball" (top five)! They were the quintessential Bond films, they started it all -- they were also closer to what Fleming wrote than the ones that followed.


Tim from Summit, NJ: How did you get into writing these Bond books?

Raymond Benson: I've been a fan all my life. I wrote THE JAMES BOND BEDSIDE COMPANION in the early '80s, published in 1984, and got to know the Fleming family and Glidrose Publications (Fleming's literary company) at that time. We became friends and have stayed in touch over the years. When John Gardner decided not to do any more books, they called me! I'm still pinching myself!


Roger from Akron, OH: Do you plan on writing any more short stories ?

Raymond Benson: As a matter of fact, yes. Watch this space, especially the Playboy space... ! :)


S.M. from Chicago, IL: Could you do some comparing of THE FACTS OF DEATH with your first novel, ZERO MINUS TEN? In any terms you'd like. Thanks.

Raymond Benson: I think THE FACTS OF DEATH is better! I'll always have a fondness for ZERO MINUS TEN because it was my first one, but looking at it now, I can see that it's a "first novel." BTW -- it's just now coming out in paperback from Jove Books. It should appear in the stores within the next couple of weeks.


Hutton from Washington, DC: What do you think was the worst Bond movie? Who in your estimation was the worst Bond?

Raymond Benson: Well, the worst Bond movie is "Casino Royale," which was really a spoof made by another production company. After that, I'd have to say "Moonraker," because it was just too goofy for me. I don't have a "worst" Bond, because they all brought something different to the role.


Bill Kanas from New York: When writing, whose image do you picture as Bond -- any of the actors, or is it a more generic 007?

Raymond Benson: Hi, Bill! When I first read the Fleming books, I didn't picture Sean Connery, or any of the other subsequent actors. It was a shadowy figure that Fleming described, with a scar on his right cheek. He's the guy I picture when I write, although I've been told by readers, "I hear Pierce Brosnan say that line!" or "I can see Sean Connery doing that bit!"


Paul from New York City: How is the novelization process different from the writing original Bond books? Have you written any non-Bond fiction? How is that process different?

Raymond Benson: The novelization was fun, but it was a rush job. I had six weeks to do it! It was fun because I got to add my own two cents to the story that was already there. I added some back-story to the Wai Lin character and to the villain. Hopefully I fleshed it out some. I've also just written a non-Bond novel, which is now in the hands of my agent. I'm waiting to hear his verdict! It's very different from Bond -- it's more of a mystery-drama set in Texas, kind of Larry McMurtry meets David Lynch!


Eugene from Durham, NC: Will you make any appearances for this book? Are there Bond conventions? Do you ever read at them?

Raymond Benson: I have already done signings in Austin, Texas, at Chuy's Restaurant (a location in the book!) and in Chicago. I'll be at the Wizard World Chicago convention in Chicago July 17-19. I'm signing at Mysterious Books in L.A. on August 8. Yes, there are Bond conventions every now and then, and I try to attend when there are.


M.R. from Texas: Mr. Benson, I am delighted that you are so comfy.... What part of a day are you most creative, and do you dream a lot?

Raymond Benson: I'm at my best in the mornings before lunch, and after 10pm at night! My worst is mid-afternoon. I just want to have a siesta!


Kim from Ft. Collins, CO: Hello, Raymond. Do you have a favorite recurring Bond character? Who? Does Moneypenny make an appearance in THE FACTS OF DEATH?

Raymond Benson: My favorite recurring character would be Felix Leiter. I like the old M, too, which is why I brought him back in the new book. Yes, Moneypenny is in it, too. I've introduced a new recurring character, Helena Marksbury, who is Bond's personal assistant (like Loelia Ponsonby and Mary Goodnight in the Fleming books).


Kirby from Plano, TX: Do you consider yourself an Ian Fleming and James Bond expert?

Raymond Benson: There's always something to learn about Fleming and Bond... :)


Bill Kanas from New York: I'm surprised no one's asked this yet, so here goes -- can you tell us anything about your next Bond book?

Raymond Benson: Well, it doesn't have a title yet! It takes place in the Bahamas, England, Belgium, and Nepal! It's more of a John Buchan/"North by Northwest" style of espionage plot that involves a McGuffin and a race between the various characters to retrieve it across the continents!


Deborah from Boca Raton, FL: Why does Glidrose Productions choose the book title instead of allowing you freedom of choice?

Raymond Benson: They don't necessarily choose it. It's a collaborative effort between me, Glidrose, and the American and British publishers!


Deborah from Boca Raton, FL: Would you ever write a Bond adventure in the first person, i.e., from 007's perspective?

Raymond Benson: I don't think so, although it might make an interesting experiment. Maybe a short story?


Katherine from Austin, TX: Will you be coming back to Austin with James Bond? I was very glad to meet you here, even when the books sold out you were really nice.

Raymond Benson: Why, thank you very much! I don't know if Bond will be coming back to Austin, but I will. It's "home" to me!


Bill Kanas from New York: Do you have any plans to create an international criminal/terrorist organization in your books, or to bring back SPECTRE?

Raymond Benson: Yes, I plan to create an international organization, (see next book) but not SPECTRE. They're a dead horse. :)


Moderator: Thank you, Raymond Benson! Best of luck with THE FACTS OF DEATH. Do you have any closing comments for the online audience?

Raymond Benson: Thanks for having me! Make it a Bond summer... THE FACTS OF DEATH is good beach reading! :)


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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2000

    Bond, James Bond

    This is the first Bond novel i have read (to tell you the truth i am only like little more than half way through..) and I love it. I have been a huge fan of 007 since Tomorrow Never Dies, I know that wasn't long ago but that is the first one that came to theaters when i was old enough to be interested in that or old enough to even see it in theaters without a parent. I own most of the movies now on DVD. I did buy the novel of The Spy Who Loved me at the librbay book sale a few years ago, but I didn't really like it, i read about three chapters and found it boring and slightly confusing (like where the heck is James?). Anyways, this is a great book and i would recomend it to anyone who likes 007 or any action adventure books/movies. And if anyone has any coments, disagree with me, or would like to discuss anything Bond related further, please feel free top contact me (just make sure in the subject it mentions Bond or something to let me know that it is something to do with this so I don't accedently delete it...). Thanks.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2000

    A good bond story

    this is definately the best in raymond bensons series of these action novels.

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