Page last updated at 14:26 GMT, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 15:26 UK

Bond log: Devil May Care

Devil May Care book jacket
Penguin have printed 150,000 copies of Faulks' Bond novel

Devil May Care, a new James Bond novel written to mark the centenary of 007 creator Ian Fleming's birth, has just hit the shelves.

BBC News entertainment reporter Neil Smith has one of the first copies of Sebastian Faulks' eagerly awaited book and is spending the day reading it, giving his reactions as he goes.

Warning: This article contains plot spoilers.

WEDNESDAY, 28 MAY 1445 BST

Devil May Care has come to an end with a dramatic showdown in Paris and a ludicrous plot twist.

On the whole, though, it is a book Fleming fans will enjoy - provided they don't take it too seriously.

From the elaborate descriptions of Bond's meals to the colourful summaries of his various ports of call, Faulks has clearly worked hard to emulate the master's distinctive, journalistic style.

And the good news is that 007 finally - finally! - gets to see some action between the sheets. I was really starting to worry there for a minute.

WEDNESDAY, 28 MAY 1420 BST
I am into the final stretch now and there's just been another Bond staple - a fight on a train.

With only a few chapters to go, though, I'm wondering how Sebastian Faulks will wrap up his globe-trotting narrative satisfactorily.

In his quest to get over the Iron Curtain, 007 has also done something completely out of character.

I'll give my overall verdict after I've read the last chapter.

WEDNESDAY, 28 MAY 1400 BST

Bond's daring attempt to take control of a missile-laden plane results in a breathlessly exciting sequence that would look amazing on film.

So far I've resisted the temptation to put a face on Faulks' 007. Here, though, you can't help thinking Daniel Craig would be in his element.

With 40-odd pages to go, James is now in Mother Russia with Twin Number One. For some reason, however, they have yet to get fully acquainted.

Goodness knows they've had enough opportunities. Has our hero lost his mojo?


WEDNESDAY, 28 MAY 1320 BST

On the border between Iran and Afghanistan, Bond is under fire from hostile bandits.

I'm sure I won't be the only reader to spot parallels with the current situation in that part of the world.

Obviously 007 escapes to die another day. Disappointingly, though, he is quickly back in the villain's clutches.

Turns out old Julius has bigger plans after all that involve nuking Stalingrad and starting World War Three. Now that's more like it!

WEDNESDAY, 28 MAY 1255 BST

007 has been apprehended and carted off to the villain's desert lair for one of those classic Bondian confrontations.

True to form, the evil Dr Julius Gorner has helpfully laid out his plan to flood the West with heroin.

It sounds a little pedestrian to be honest, so I'm hoping that there's more to his dastardly scheme.

There's also been a cameo appearance from Bond's old CIA mucker Felix Leiter, still missing the arm and leg he lost in Live and Let Die.

WEDNESDAY, 28 MAY 1205 BST
Sorry to be so coarse, but is Bond now celibate?

I only ask because I'm halfway through his latest adventure and he's barely had a snog.

What makes this so frustrating is it looks as if the girl he met earlier has a twin who's every bit as alluring as she is. Come on, James - do your duty!

Otherwise, though, things are rattling along. Clad only in swimming trunks, 007 has infiltrated a boatyard on the Caspian Sea and made a crucial discovery.


WEDNESDAY, 28 MAY 1135 BST

So far it's been standard fare - a virtual pastiche in fact.

But Faulks has upped the ante by taking 007 to Iran, somewhere he never went to in any of Ian Fleming's 14 books.

I doubt everyone will be happy with Bond's scathing description of the Middle East as "the thieving centre of the world".

Yet it's good to find him in a less familiar environment, eating lamb's head soup with his Tehran counterpart and smoking opium in a Persian vice den.

Don't worry, though - he doesn't inhale.

WEDNESDAY, 28 MAY 1115 BST

Bond's been reunited with the girl he knocked back earlier, so it looks like he'll have a chance to make up for his earlier timidity.

In true Goldfinger fashion, he's also had his first symbolic run-in with the villain of the piece - not on the golf course this time, but on the tennis court.

Bond wins, of course, for all his opponent's cheating - Fleming's familiar signal that he's a bad egg.

What's more, he's got an Oddjob-sized henchman called Chagrin who I'm pretty sure we'll be seeing more of in the chapters to come.

WEDNESDAY, 28 MAY 1035 BST

Phew! After a shaky start, the old James is starting to make a comeback.

Summoned back to London by M, Bond has begun to behave a little more like the cynical, cocksure elitist we know and love.

References to the Rolling Stones and the Swinging Sixties feel a little incongruous, and there's a smutty exchange between Bond and Moneypenny that would make even Roger Moore blush.

Otherwise, though, the auspices are good. We've already had our first car chase, while the villain - an international drug kingpin with a malformed hand - looks like he'll be a formidable nemesis.

WEDNESDAY, 28 MAY 1015 BST
James Bond is back - but not how we remember him.

Listless and bored on an enforced three-month sabbatical, Her Majesty's Secret Serviceman is mooching around the South of France like some upscale tourist.

At one point he turns down a Vodka Martini. Even worse, he also turns down a woman!

Let's hope this is just a temporary aberration and he'll be back to normal soon.

WEDNESDAY, 28 MAY 0940 BST

One chapter in and things are looking good.

Admittedly James Bond has yet to make an appearance, Faulks kicking things off with the brutal execution of a former Algerian freedom fighter in the seedy back streets of Paris.

It's a tactic Fleming himself used in books like From Russia With Love - recount an episode 007 plays no part in that will come to have great significance later down the line.

Interestingly, Faulks also includes the political realities of the 1960s with passing references to General De Gaulle and the escalating Vietnam conflict.

This is shaping up to be a cracking read.

WEDNESDAY, 28 MAY 0830 BST

Review the new James Bond novel on the first day of publication? Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

As I nervously wait for Sebastian Faulks' novel to drop through my letterbox, though, I am starting to wonder if I have bitten off more than I can chew.

I'm told it's about 300 pages long, which at least makes it more manageable than the last few Harry Potters were.

That's around the length of Charlie Higson's Young Bond novels - books I've enjoyed a great deal, despite being considerably slightly older than their target demographic.

I am hoping for a fast-paced, action-packed yarn full of exotic locations, diabolical villains and glamorous women.

But if it's as turgid as some of John Gardner's attempts to continue Fleming's legacy, we are both in for a very long day.




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