"With a new pair of Sykes-Fairburn commando daggers and a new Heckler & Koch VP70 hand gun...and the turbo-charged silver Saab 900 ready...With a new woman, even more desirable than Pussy Galore or Lavender Peacock, in his arms...and the arch-enemy Blofeld and SPECTRE back on his hands...The master spy, the ultimate hero is once again ready to serve Her Majesty...and thrill his millions of readers with an all-new, brilliant novel of suspence...FOR SPECIAL SERVICES the great new bestseller."
From the second publication by Coronet paperbacks
A series of airplane hijacks and a note found on a murdered CIA agent's body suggest the unthinkable: Blofeld and SPECTRE have returned. Teaming up with Cedar Leiter, the beautiful daughter of Felix, Bond is 'loaned' to the US government with the task of infiltrating the organization of Markus Bismaquer, suspected of collaborating with SPECTRE on their latest scheme. Bond and Cedar eventually find themselves on Rancho Bismaquer, Markus' massive mansion fortress, posing as art experts with a collection of rare prints for sale. While trying to determine who on the ranch is the new Blofeld, Bond learns of a plot to steal a top-secret Military satellite from NORAD Headquarters and sell it on the open market: and only Bond can stop them.
From the opening hijacking to the thrilling conclusion between Bond and Blofeld, this novel is pure, unadulterated fun. Gardner truly lets his imagination and creativity run away with this one while keeping a foot planted in reality. SPECTRE's actual plan is a bit far-fetched as we now know that there were no lasers in space in the early 1980s. However, in an era when everyone was talking about Ronald Reagen's Star Wars Defense Program, the scheme may have been more plausible.
Fortunately, the sci-fi elements of the plot are not stumbling points as Blofeld's scheme is not the novel's main focus. The book focuses on Bond's reaction to the reemergence of SPECTRE and the knowledge that the organization which was a thorn in his side for years and responsible for the death of his beloved Tracy is back. Bond actually tackles his feelings on the matter and forces himself to get them in check. This is something very untraditional, but because of Bond and Blofeld's history it works well.
While the novel has more in common with the movies than Fleming's books, it is still Gardner's best. The action scenes, while exciting, were actually far less interesting than the human interactions. Bond's relationship with Cedar was brilliantly written with Bond actually showing restraint around his best friend's beautiful daughter. Additionally, Bond's detective work on Rancho Bismaquer when trying to discover Blofeld's identity is superbly written and described. Perhaps the greatest part of the book is the fact that Blofeld is actually Nena, Bond's love interest for the novel. While this may be common knowledge now, one can only imagine the shock of finding this out back in the 1980s when reading the novel for the first time.
As a Bond novel, For Special Services had its share of action sequences as well. Some highlights include a daring escape from a plummeting elevator, the raid on Cheyenne Mountain and perhaps the most thrilling car race in Bond history. All-in-all, this is a well paced, thrilling and intriguing novel that ranks up there with Fleming's best.
Considering the legal battles between Kevin McClory and EON, how did you get permission to use SPECTRE in For Special Services? Were there any guidelines set by Glidrose for you to follow when dealing with them?
The legal battle concerned was about Thunderball. No problems with SPECTRE.
With the assassination of De Luntz at the beginning of the novel, we are introduced to an ingenious and sadistic method of killing people: a giant python! Where did you come up with the concept or was it something you had seen somewhere else?
I thought it rather a good idea. Certainly donít recall reading it elsewhere.
Bond now has his cigarettes made for him by H. Simmons of Burlington Arcade. Is H. Simmons are friend of yours by any chance? Why change cigarette manufacturer?
I think Simmonds has now gone and I believe it was owned by Dunhill. I certainly have no friends connected to it. The fact was that it seemed to be one of the very few independent cigarette-makers operating in the West End of London.
Interview with John Gardner conducted by
For Special Services
Published: September, 1982
Author: John Gardner
Villain: Nena Blofeld
Bond Girl: Cedar Leiter;
Allies: Felix Leiter
John Gardner's Thoughts
For Special Services
Role of Honour
Nobody Lives Forever
No Deals, Mr. Bond
Win, Lose, or Die
The Man From Barbarossa
Death Is Forever
Never Send Flowers
Licence To Kill
John Gardner Biography