Devil May Care Review

Devil May Care is a 2008 action crime spy thriller novel written by Sebastian Faulks and published by Penguin Books.  Based on the works of Ian Fleming, the story follows James Bond who is investigating a megalomaniac chemist named Dr. Julius Gorner who has a deep-seated hatred of England.


Positives:

  • Great characters
  • Great writing
  • Witty dialogue
  • Interesting story
  • Good action

Negatives:

  • Can get really slow in terms of pacing
  • Villains are cliche with no real depth

Plot:  The story follows a worn Bond who is considering a change of career.  However, he is given a mission to investigate a pharmaceutical giant named Dr. Julius Gorner who’s suspected of heroin trafficking.  During the investigation, Bond is assisted by Scarlett Papava, in which the two discover that Gorner has a plan set forth to destroy Britain and flood its streets with drugs.  Devil May Care does feature a pretty interesting story. This story is a bit hard to get into because the majority of the book really nothing happens. It’s very uneventful. Stories like this do take their time to gradually reveal the different twists and subplots in plot but this one was really really slow. (3 out of 5)

Characters:  James Bond is the main protagonist who sent on a mission to stop another madman. At times he can be a bit dull despite being a likable character especially when he’s enjoying one of his hobbies; mainly drinking.  Bond is assisted by ‘Bond girl’ Scarlett Papava who’s actually pretty awesome.  I like that she has depth and that’s she not only in the story as eye candy or just to be a love interest.  There is the relationship that is built between the two and how well they work together and bring out different things from each other.  There are other great supporting characters that help keep the roster well rounded including the local head of station Darius Alizabeth, intelligence operative Rene Mathis, Bond’s friend and CIA operative Felix Letter, Scarlett’s sister Poppy Papava, taxi driver Hamid, and in-situ agent J.D. Silver.

Chemist Dr. Julius Gorner and his chauffeur and bodyguard, Chagrin, are the antagonists of the story.  Gorner is actually a pretty decent bad guy, he has a big personality and he is pretty memorable but his motivations could be a little bit stronger.  Yeah, he has the deformed hand but there are a lot of people who’re picked on by society but don’t want to see the world burn.  But he plans to flood Britain with narcotics and turn its young people into dope addicts. Chagrin is a decent bodyguard but I would’ve liked to have seen a bit more from the character.  Yeah, the guy is badass, and a great challenge to Bond, but I would’ve liked to have seen a bit more of his character and motivations. (3 out of 5)

Writing: The writing is good for the most part and the dialogue is pretty witty, capturing the best of the Bond series.  Sebastian Faulks does a good with the storytelling and setup and it does work well with Ian Fleming’s concept and characters.  Bond has emotional depth and isn’t the perfect man that he’s portrayed to be and that strong characterization works well.  I like how the story is focused around drug dealing and it’s affect on society. The book is set at the height of the Cold War in the 60’s, and I think it’s a great period because of the political tension that works well with Gorner’s plan to destroy Britain.  There is action and mystery that conforms to the Bond formula.  There is the focus of hot women, shootouts, alcohol, complex schemes, exotic locales, double agents, and everything that makes a Bond story great. However, there is a problem with the pacing.  There are periods where the story does slow down dramatically and this is usually with Bond’s down times.  One of the most standout sequences is the tennis match between Bond and Gorner, it shows what kind of a person Gorner is. (3 out of 5)


The Verdict:  In the end, Devil May Care works as a Bond novel and is a solid addition to the spy fiction genre.  Yeah, there are the Bond troupes that loom of the story like a patch of rain clouds but it adds to the allure of the Bond series.  The story does feature great, memorable characters, a solid story, witty dialogue, and great writing.  Devil May Care gets 3 out of 5.

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