Posted 22 April 2008 - 02:18 PM
Having been disappointed by the last few Gardner Bonds, I knew I would be panning for gold amidst the silt. I know Gardner considered it his favourite book in the series but I never quite understood it. Why, when they discovered they'd kidnapped the wrong man, did they continue with the show trial? And would the trial of a Nazi-war criminal be that big a newstory worldwide that it could distract governments and resonate with foreign policy? All the accoutrements Gardner had given Bond, making him his own, as it were, were junked. There are some lovely moments - the memory of the assassination in LA, some of the supporting characters, the topical reveal - but it never made sense to me. Echoing Icebreaker with yet another villainous organization, The Scales Of Justice (after BAST, The Society Of The Meek Ones), it never held up for me. I always felt Gardner, like a lot of thriller writers, could not get over the end of the Cold War, and while there was an attempted coup in Russia at the time, Gardner's wariness about the fall of the Iron Curtain was indicative of the staid incompetence of Western Intelligence. The uneveness of the Gardner books never dampened my enthusiasm for reading the new adventure of the literary Bond. However, I consider The Man From Barbarossa the weakest Bond novel ever written: not because it was not formulaic Bond but because, for me, it was very muddled storytelling.