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Case Name: Death Is Forever|
Author: John Gardner
Villain(s): David Dragonpol
Bond Girl(s): Flicka von Grüsse
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It all starts with 4 seemingly unrelated murders of high-profile people. It isn't until an MI5 agent, Laura March, is killed in a ski mountain in Switzerland that Bond is called in. Teamed up with the beautiful Flicka Von Grusse, Bond begins to investigate and come to the castle of one David Dragonpol. Needless to say the two of them get into a bit of trouble in the castle and learn that Dragonpol is indeed to blame. After some more investigation of both the case and each other, Bond comes face to face with the villain inside EuroDisney. Needless to say, Bond dispatches the bad guy and goes home to a happy M.
Well after 33 years of Bond novels, there isn't much that can be done that is all too original. Never Send Flowers is no exception. The plot is simple enough and the action sequences are few and far between. There is little tension with very few exceptions: the harrowing chase in Dragonpol's theater museum was by far the highlight of the novel. In addition, the relationship between Flicka and Bond was rushed and I found it hard to bite that they would be in love so quickly. I suppose in my mind there can only be one love of Bond's life and she has been dead for years. Lastly, the villain was too obvious; Bond's first hunch was correct and after that there was no more mystery.
The best bit of writing in the novel is when Bond is spending the day in EuroDisney, looking over the terrain. He spends the day losing himself in the Disney atmosphere and he seems to be a kid again. That is the human side of Bond that is lost in so many novels and most of the movies. It is the subtle touches that add to his character, not the gunfights. Another part I found intriguing was the blood tipped roses. Gardner put a very vivid image in my mind of the rose and subtle hints of who used it kept me guessing for about half the novel.
Taking into consideration the changing climate the novel was written in, 1993, I think Gardner did a good job of capturing the Bond spirit. What the story lacked in depth was made up with the great scenes with M. Their relationship has come far and you can see a true mutual respect as well as their thinking on the same level. They just needed to keep the woman less involved.