the guardian Fri 26 June 2009
Asking Sebastian Faulks to write the new Bond novel was, according to the author, "like asking someone who writes complex symphonic music if they would like to write a three-minute pop song". Still, despite being better known for detailing inner lives rather than underwater explosions, Faulks seems to enjoy his slumming, and wholeheartedly embraces the Bond brand in this old-fashioned cold war thriller, where James must save the world from one Dr Gorner and his new drug, heroin. Irresistibly, said villain has a monkey's paw for a hand and a sidekick called Chagrin, whose speciality is putting chopsticks in enemy eardrums and banging them together. Then there is the enigmatic, resourceful, beautiful Scarlet, whose twin sister, Poppy, must be saved from Gorner and his drug. No one expects or wants subtlety from Bond, and Faulks delivers a thriller that manages to feel reassuringly familiar rather than predictable, though whether it's a fun, clever pastiche as opposed to a tired reprise of racist and misogynistic set pieces is a tougher call.
the observer Sat 23 May 2009
Sebastian Faulks picks up where Ian Fleming left off. It is 1967 and 007 is a man emotionally and physically scarred. He is summoned from his sabbatical to face Dr Julius Gorner, who, in a moment of comic ingenuity that pushes the limits of credulity, is revealed to suffer from a rare deformity that gives him a monkey's paw in place of a left hand. Faulks commented that the novel is "about 80 per cent Fleming", and he wins full marks not only for the period detail (including his assumption of Fleming's blithely expressed sexism and racial prejudices) but also for adopting his predecessor's writing habits (he rose early and bashed out 2,000 words a day for six weeks until the job was done).