Posted 12 January 2008 - 12:39 AM
What was the impact of having the most regular lit Bond fix since the 1950-60s actually like? By now, the quality of Gardner Bonds was variable and would grow increasingly erratic. Gardner's 9th Continuation Bond novel in 1990 was yet another inconsistent entry.
The excellently titled Brokenclaw has an impressive, over-the-top villain, original setpieces but a silly and familiar story. The plot revolves around kidnapped scientists, a submarine tracking MacGuffin which can detect a submarine by its wake and some ho-hum Chinese as villainous topicality, post-the Tianamen Square massacre. There are some pedestrian North American locations, meals ripped directly from Fleming (apart from Bond drinking tea!) and things that just don't make sense. The regular Gardner Bond reader by this stage had developed a Pavlovian reaction to the imminent double crosses which would be inserted with about as much finesse as a robot proctologist. But we read on to pan the book for the gold of the odd inspired sequence and the finale of Brokenclaw is good.