For Special Services
is the high point of Gardener for me, which is sad since it's his second book. The man resorts to fan service by bringing back SPECTRE, Felix Leiter, and using the child of an existing villain. The irony is that it works beautifully.
Who gives a craps table if you're feeding off Fleming's body if it works? I don't mind the 40+ James Bond because he's a Captain in the Navy at this point and Gardener's bond is meant to be one whose managed to get through all of the previous Bond novels at this point.
For Special Services was a continuation of the Roger Moore Bond for me. Oddly enough, I always tended to see Roger (with dark hair and a perpetually ****ed off look) in Fleming but that was unrelated to the Gardener Bond. License Reknewed established this was an older Bond and one with everything up to the Man with the Golden Gun behind him. So the issue of Cedar Leiter wasn't a terribly large problem for me that time though frankly her character had other issues for me. Blofeld's daughter worked fine age wise since Blofeld was always a decade or two older than Bond anyway in my interpretation of the man.
FSS is my favorite Gardener Bond book honestly and the only one I really rank up there with Benson. Part of it has to do with the crowd pleasing choice of bringing back SPECTRE. It's a return of an old friend and its arising from the ashes Phoenix style is something that works remarkably well. Honestly, I think the elimination of the threat of Blofeld II was handled far too easily though. It might have helped Gardener's books tremendously to keep Spectre as a multi-book villain. Plus, oddly, the group never gets to do anything particularly villainous in the story. I do admit that I applaud Nina Blofeld's use of a snake to eat a underling. That's a very well visualized scene.
The problem with Cedar Leiter is, oddly, she's acting her age. The girl pretty much embodies 19 year old vapidity in the world. The idea she's a CIA agent and college student pretty much breaks my suspension of disbelief. That Bond would be interested in her is also a trifle ridiculous to me. I'm reminded very strongly of Bibi Dahl whom I actually didn't mind in FYEO because the whole point of her character was that Bond was attracted to more worldly women than just an attractive body. Ceidar is somewhat better than Bibi in terms of maturity but not enough that I think Bond would really be interested. While I love the idea of giving Felix a family, I find it questionable that he more or less pimps out his own daughter to fulfill Bond's sexual appetites. Is he working to stud her? What? Wouldn't his sister have been a more appropriate choice?
I am surprised at how easily I bought that Bond would sleep with Blofeld's daughter despite her deformity though. My attention to Thunderball betrayed me when I read the book though. Did Gardener recall that Blofeld had syphilis? It's established in Thunderball and his opening description. Bond should get himself tested.
Edited by Willowhugger, 10 December 2006 - 07:58 PM.