Zero Minus Ten

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Overview

The clock is ticking for Hong Kong. On July 1, 1997, the British Crown Colony will be handed over to the People's Republic of China. But hopes for a peaceful transition are shattered when a series of terrorist acts threatens the fragile relationship between Britain and China. A solicitor from London is killed by a car bomb; a British "offcer" retaliates by assassinating two officials visiting from Beijing; an explosion eliminates the elite of a major British corporation. With ten days of British sovereignty left,...
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Overview

The clock is ticking for Hong Kong. On July 1, 1997, the British Crown Colony will be handed over to the People's Republic of China. But hopes for a peaceful transition are shattered when a series of terrorist acts threatens the fragile relationship between Britain and China. A solicitor from London is killed by a car bomb; a British "offcer" retaliates by assassinating two officials visiting from Beijing; an explosion eliminates the elite of a major British corporation. With ten days of British sovereignty left, James Bond is dispatched to Hong Kong to investigate these incidents and avert a political crisis that could jeopardize the upcoming historical event. He suspects there are connections with the nefarious Chinese underworld Triad. But the truth is difficult to uncover. Bond must navigate a startling maze of characters - a suspicious British taipan, a sinister Triad leader, a sadistic Chinese general, and an exotic dancer with alluring, seductive skills - before exposing a fiendish plot of revenge, with roots reaching back more than a century and a half.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Disorienting as it is, James Bond will be as youthful and virile as ever on July 1st, when Hong Kong becomes a part of China. Benson (an Edgar nominee for The James Bond Bedside Companion) is the latest of the literary Dr. Frankensteins enlisted to inject life into old 007. Committing the mistake of pinning Bond down to a specific point in time instead of letting him float in an undefined Cold War limbo, he inadvertently reveals how Ian Fleming and others protected Bond from the real ravages of time. An early description here ("Dark and handsome, he had piercing blue-gray eyes. His short black hair had just a hint of gray at the temples, was parted on the left, and was carelessly brushed so that a thick black comma fell down over the right eyebrow") makes it clear that this tale is more a self-conscious homage than an organic story to sink into. Benson moves rapidly into pastiche and commercial ripoff, skating around on the surface of things until the action begins to seem ludicrous. Bond goes through the motions of discovering who is trying to sabotage the transfer of power in Hong Kong by blowing people up, bedding the usual array of beautiful young bimbos, dodging and fighting the same sinister crowd of ethnic heavies (including a trio of giant albinos called Tic, Tac and Toe) and confronting the same clichd threats to destroy the world. Benson, a games designer, has come up with a kind of computer-game parody that will make readers wonder why they don't just reread Fleming's classics. (May)
Kirkus Reviews
The author of The James Bond Bedside Companion (not reviewed) pits Agent 007 against worthy Pacific Basin opponents in a more than serviceable first thriller that could give Ian Fleming's ultracool hero yet another new lease on life.

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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780515123364
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 8/1/1998
  • Series: James Bond Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 287
  • Product dimensions: 4.24 (w) x 6.76 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Raymond Benson

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

Before the live bn.com chat, Raymond Benson agreed to answer some of our questions.

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?

A:  Cool.

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.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 11, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Why wasn't this a movie?

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2001

    A definate future movie

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2001

    Plenty of suspense and surprises!

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2001

    The best book since Never send Flowers and

    I really was enthralled after I read this incredible thriller!! Very ingenious! Great fun and what an ending! ***** Great! A masterpiece!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2001

    James Bond will return in 'Zero Minus Ten'

    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.

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