When a British businessman and his family are killed in Japan, James Bond suspects a mass assassination. Investigating with the help of beautiful Japanese agent Reiko Tamura and his old friend Tiger Tanaka, Bond discovers that two powerful factions controlled by the mysterious terrorist Goro Yoshida are playing God. Between them they have created the perfect weapon, one small and seemingly insignificant enough to strike anywhere, unnoticed. With an emergency G7 summit meeting just days away, it's a race against time as Bond confronts both man and nature in a desperate bid to stop the release of a deadly virus that could destroy the Western world.
This latest addition to the James Bond canon includes virtually all the requisite components, from an evil villain with a diabolical plot to exotic settings and beautiful women. But what's missing is the biggest piece of all: Bond himself. This time around, Benson's Bond is strangely inert; he lacks the suavity, verve and wit that have made him one of the most engaging heroes in genre fiction. The story line is compelling enough: 007 is in Japan to baby-sit the British prime minister at a summit conference and to investigate mysterious deaths in the McMahon family, whose patriarch ran pharmaceutical giant CureLab. Bond reunites with an aging Tiger Tanaka, who featured in Ian Fleming's You Only Live Twice, as they pursue Goro Yoshida, the terrorist who links both parts of Bond's mission. Yoshida is a clich monomaniacal and merciless but an interesting one, bent on using biological weapons to punish Western society for polluting traditional Japanese culture. He even has an evil dwarf sidekick, Junji Kon, the knife-wielding embodiment of a kappa, a mythical creature in Japanese folklore. The other Bond tropes are present: love interests (Reiko Tamura, Tanaka's colleague; and Mayumi, the sole survivor of the McMahon family), cinematic action and gadgets (including a Palm Pilot packed with plastic explosive). But it's Bond himself who propels readers along, and here he is a mere facsimile of the real thing.