Tangled Web UK Review October 2000
hbk out May 00
Published by Hodder & Stoughton
Raymond Benson is the official reincarnation of Ian Fleming and this book carries the banner JAMES BOND 007 about four times larger than the actual title. I can’t really
remember how close Benson’s books are to the real thing, as it’s years since I read any Fleming. They must have been around a long time, as I recall reading one from the NAAFI library when I did my National Service in Malaya, so Bond’s physique and virility have lasted well, as he must be well into his ‘seventies by this new book!
The story is the usual daft nonsense for grown-up Boy’s Own readers, with the inevitable evil underground organisation plotting dire international mayhem. This time it is ‘The Union’, a type of Mafia based in North Africa, headed by a blind Berber intent on fomenting war in Europe over Spain’s claims to Gibraltar, by assassinating the British Prime Minister at a meeting on the Rock (we should be so lucky!)
James Bond is sick and out of favour with MI6, but although ‘resting’, manages to stumble around the world, shooting, killing and fornicating. Actually, the sex is quite restrained, of the nudge and wink variety, contrasted to the near-pornography that is almost mandatory in most novels these days. He discovers he is being haunted by a double, a dastardly Welshman who has had a Bond facelift. A homicidal Spanish beauty is also after him, but all comes out roses in the end.
Perhaps Benson, an American who is a Director of the Ian Fleming Foundation, sees himself as a latter-day Hemingway, as he describes bull-fighting in sickening detail and to uses the book to offer a long justification of this barbarous perversion.
For Bond fans, this book is probably great stuff and I sincerely hope they enjoy it.
- Author of the highly acclaimed Crowner John series set in Medieval Devon)