Official, original James Bond from a writer described by Len Deighton as a 'master storyteller'.
James Bond is back in action, with the stunning Flicka von Grusse at his side and his licence to kill renewed once more. His target is Sir Maxwell Tarn: a businessman whose legitimate empire spans the globe, whose wealth is uncountable, who also deals in illegal weapons on a breathtaking scale.
But even Bond is unprepared for the speed of events, as a sting operation in a Cambridge hotel leads rapidly to an assassination in Spain, a fugitive in Israel and neo-Nazi plotters in Germany.
Bond finally catches up with Tarn in Puerto Rico where his prey becomes his captor. Can he escape in time to stop Tarn?
With this, his 13th James Bond novel, Gardner surpasses Ian Fleming's total output by one, but he continues to lag immeasurably behind Fleming in panache. Much has changed for 007 in the aftermath of the Cold War. For starters, he has a steady lover, former Swiss Intelligence agent Flicka von Grusse, who, aside from a few lethal flashes, becomes just another damsel ready for distress when Bond's around. Bond is in command of the Double-Oh section, now called ``Two Zeros,'' whose members have turned in their licenses to kill for the pleasure of ``dealing with cases concerning breach of international law and treaties.'' Here the villain is Sir Maxwell Tarn, who aims to be the next Hitler. Once on the case, Bond pursues a foolhardy and dangerous course, meeting semi-disastrous results and returning to ask his overseers whether he might try, try again-a wish that, sensibly, they are reluctant to grant. At one point, the ineffable M, threatens: ``If you fail, Bond, I'll see you out of the Service for good.'' Bond fails, of course, but nothing is heard from M, who takes to his sickbed. Judging by this pale, by-the-numbers series entry, one hopes that the old boy will recover soon and make good on his threat.