Picks and Pans Review: For Special Services
by John Gardner
In his second 007 novel, Gardner, a veteran British spy novelist, brings back James Bond's old enemy SPECTRE along with a young generation of evildoers. There's also a beautiful American named Cedar, the daughter of Bond's old co-worker, CIA man Felix Leiter, and she serves as a kind of Dr. Watson. Bond throws his knives a lot and drives an all-purpose silver Saab that's equipped with enough secret weapons to win a small war. Most of the action takes place in the U.S., and one of the bad guys lives on a gigantic ranch outside Amarillo where unwanted visitors routinely vanish-only to turn up later as bits of bodies in a Louisiana swamp. Gardner duplicates Ian Fleming's pacing and fascination with gadgetry; there are hairbreadth escapes against impossible odds and incredible carnage at the windup. But, unlike the Fleming novels, For Special Services has the stripped-down feeling of a comic strip. Fleming had fun with James Bond, but he also seemed genuinely to admire 007's ridiculous, perfect-martini mannerisms. Gardner, while he's a better writer than Fleming, is a cynical pro. There is no joy in his Bond. (Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, $9.95)
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