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Dispatched to Hong Kong to halt a series of violent incidents that threaten the Crown Colony's mid-1997 return to the People's Republic of China, Bond first checks on Guy Thackeray, the fifth- generation head of a family shipping firm called EurAsia Enterprises. Although the SIS troubleshooter gets the goods on the shady businessman, the latter perishes (or appears to) in a car bombing. In next trying to tap underworld intelligence sources, 007 makes a nearly fatal mistake and is obliged to undertake a personal mission for triad chieftain Li Xu Nan. Against the odds, the master spy penetrates the PRC and returns alive, bearing papers that put Li in his debt. With help from the grateful crime boss, Bond heads down under to investigate a mysterious outback blast London has told him is not his affair. In due course, he finds a back-from- the-dead Thackeray at a remote uranium mine; to his horror, he learns that the embittered taipan (who's used EurAsia to make a great fortune in the drug trade) plans to put paid to the celebration of Hong Kong's handover by detonating a crude nuclear device on or near the island at midnight on June 30, 1997. Before 007 can beat the clock and save the showcase outpost of empire with an eleventh-hour dash through a crowded harbor, however, he must escape the clutches of a villainous captor and make it out of western Australia's famously inhospitable bush country.
Benson's 007 is a chip off the old block and, if not a gilt- edged Bond, at least a double-A.
Q: Can you remember a specific writer or voice that inspired you to write?
A: Well, Ian Fleming, obviously. He's always been my favorite. I consider his novels to be classics. As far as other novelists go, I'm a big fan of Ruth Rendell, Richard Adams, Kingsley Amis, J. D. Salinger, Ed McBain, Stephen King, John Grisham, and Larry McMurtry.
Q: Have you given a book as a gift recently? Which one?
A: My own! To friends, family, et cetera.
Q: What is your favorite James Bond line? Your favorite contraption?
A: I prefer passages from the novels rather than one-liners from the films. There were some brilliant passages in the Fleming books...such as the entire centipede sequence in Dr. No, Bond's musings on relationships in Casino Royale, or the sequence in the sunken Vulcan in Thunderball. My favorite device in the films would have to be the Aston Martin DB5 from "Goldfinger."
Q: If you could describe James Bond with one word, what would it be?
Q: Do you have anything in common with James Bond?
A: Only a love of the opposite sex. The dangerous stuff he can have.
Q: What are your favorite James Bond books? Movies?
A: Books: From Russia with Love, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Dr. No, Thunderball. Films: "From Russia with Love," "Dr. No," "Goldfinger," "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," "Thunderball."
Q: Is writing books similar to composing music?
A: Not for me. Composing music for me comes from an emotional center somewhere inside that hurts if I don't sit down and let it out at the piano. Writing is a different kind of hurt, but it's more cerebral and painstaking in the process of actually doing it.
Q: What composing have you done?
A: I've done a lot of personal compositions: new-agey solo piano pieces, some music for computer games, a lot of theater music -- usually collaborating with a playwright by putting music to his lyrics. I appear as a solo act on an Italian import CD called "Giant for a Life: A Tribute to Gentle Giant," which is a tribute to a '70s progressive rock band.
Posted January 11, 2012
I don't understand why they don't make movies out of the newer Bond books. They're already modernized, they wouldn't have to work so hard to translate a cold war era story to the present day. Plus they have cool names! Raymond Benson's James Bond is prepackaged and ready to go. Sure, he cut his cigarette intake from sixty-a-day down to twenty, but this is still the hard-nosed, grizzled, risk-taking spy I have come to love from the original Fleming novels. This story takes place during the handover of Hong Kong back to China in 1997. A neat setting which lends itself to some classy espionage and a clever twist on the gambling sub plot which pervade many a Bond movie. In order to keep some kind of continuity with the films, M is now female and seems to behave pretty much identically to her big screen counterpart played by Judy Dench. Bond still has black hair (this is before Craig) but has a harder edge much like the original Fleming character. There are even some nice references to the original Casino Royale which I found really tied everything together. I don't see any reason for Fleming purists to avoid this new story. I enjoyed this one a great deal and look forward to more Bond adventures by Benson.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 29, 2001
This book has everything you would exspect from any Bond movie or book. The villian pulled his way up to #2 Bond villians of all time (next to Alec Trevelyan) in my book. I strongly think EON should make a movie of this novel. This book interested me in reading more books by Raymond Benson. Benson, keep up the excellent work.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 4, 2001
Great outing by a new author of 007! Bond is up to his neck in trouble! Great adventures! Teriffic villans! and yes even pretty girls! Fantastic from start to the shattering climax.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 10, 2001
Posted February 21, 2001
Having been to HK myself, I took personal interest in this Bond adventure. It was more thoroughly researched than I expected for a novel of this size. Yet it was still very fast-paced and exciting. It was a great first installment in a new series and sets a high standard for the rest to reach up to.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.