When Ann Brashares’ beloved, best-selling Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series ended, Tibby, Lena, Bee and Carmen were 19 years old.
Carte Blanche is the first 007 James Bond novel by Jeffery Deaver. In this latest incarnation, Bond is 30, dark haired, with a facial scar, a veteran of Afghanistan with the Naval Reserve, ex-Defence Intelligence, now working for the Overseas Development Group. ODG is a front for a body whose brief is to “protect the realm…..by any means necessary”. The action starts in Serbia, where Bond foils a train derailment, only to follow the perpetrator to England, where he does not have Carte Blanche to use any means he sees fit, and is constrained to work an irritating pedant from MI Division Three. Bond manages to escape certain death twice in the first hundred pages, after which the action hots up even more, moving to Dubai and eventually Capetown. The obvious villains are a Waste Disposal baron with a fixation on the dead and decaying, and a cold-blooded Irish ex-army sapper with a love for machinery. Whilst James is surprisingly celibate in the first half, there are, as with all Bond novels, a few double-entendre female names (Mary Goodnight, Felicity Willing), and the female characters include an ageing beauty queen, an efficient MI6 agent, a prickly police captain and an ex-merchant banker turned fund-raiser. Deaver includes some eye-opening facts on waste management and the secure disposal of confidential material. Bond has to deal with interference from government bodies and corrupt officials, but he does have all those useful toys that Q branch keep coming up with, and when things seems to be getting sticky, he always has a trick or two up his sleeve. Deaver’s characters are believable, although the lesson is that no-one is who they first seem. This 007 has an interesting plot with fast pace, plenty of intrigue, a nice build up of tension, a few red herrings and enough twists to keep the reader engaged. It kept me guessing to the end.