Official, original James Bond from a writer described by Len Deighton as a 'master storyteller'.
When the body of a mysterious woman is found to be carrying the phone number of James Bond, Bond is called in by M to help the investigation. But before he can even reach headquarters he is nearly run off the road in a high-speed motorway chase. Someone wants Bond dead.
Then Bond discovers that the woman was a member of a cult society known as "The Meek Ones", with murky links to a wealthy arms dealer. Soon, hideous acts of terrorism begin to roll out across Britain and Bond finds himself in a race against time to track down the faceless criminal behind the horror ...
The "rule of law and every Englishman's way of life'' may depend, as M says, on James Bond's thwarting the villain Scorpius, but the shakiness of the plot and the pat finale will disappoint fans of 007. The start is promising: a young heiress, an ex-heroine addict, drowns in the Thames and her address book contains only Bond's phone number. She was a member of the Meek Ones, a strict religious sect ruled by charismatic Father Valentine. Bond quickly learns that Valentine is Vladimir Scorpius, reclusive former international arms dealer. When a series of public assassinations threatens to wreck the British general election, it becomes clear that the bomb-wearing assassins are members of the Meek Ones. Bond's odyssey takes him to Valentine/Scorpius's plush estate on Hilton Head, S.C., where Bond is held prisoner, and eventually to a bloody climax at the White House. Gardner (No Deals, Mr. Bond) uses some early sly humor but the ensuing silliness does the book in. And though Bond calls Scorpius ``evil personified,'' we have met more memorable and more worrisome Bondian villains. Literary Guild, Mystery Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates.