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'Devil May Care' After Action Reports


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Poll: 'Devil May Care' After Action Reports

How do you rate Sebastian Faulks' centenary novel?

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#31 BoogieBond

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 03:30 PM

I have read the first 6 chapters, slow reader.
But of the parts I have read, it is fine. I tend to agree with others and it depends on your expectations. I levelled mine at around flemings' last novels TMWGG and OP/TLD and I find DMC Pretty Good. But It hasn't grabbed me the same way OHMSS or LALD has, and the plot and intrigue so far doesn't seem to be at FRWL level.

#32 Scrambled Eggs

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 05:57 PM

Was up until 3 am reading it. Not necessarily because I was gripped, but because I'd promised myself that I'd read it in one sitting. My thoughts:

Posted Image
The plot is a huge letdown and I imagine I won't be the only one who finds it unimaginative and a bit lazy. A drug dealer who wants to start a war because he really really doesn't like England? Thats it? A 3rd rate rehash of Hugo Drax? Fleming's plots always had a touch of the surreal about them and this is what DMC sorely lacks.
It occurs to me that, whilst Fleming wrote his books in six weeks, for the year before he would be scribbling notes and (probably) planning the book inside his head.
Did Faulks do the same? Probably not. The prose isn't slapdash and lazy (far from it) but I'm afraid the story is. It lacks momentum. Once I got to the Ekranoplan and Bond getting knocked out I found myself beginning to lose interest. I just didn't feel Bond was in any serious bother.
Other quibbles: Faulks is constantly trying to give the story some contemporary relevance: Mentions of a lack of veils in Iran; Helmand Province; what could be achieved by one man dominating much of the media... its nice and I suppose it gives the novel a depth of sorts, but theres too much of it. It gets irritating and in the way of what Faulks should have been trying to do - writing a bloody thriller.
The parts set in Russia are a huge missed opportunity. It doesn't read like Bond. More like Bond suddenly strolling into someonelse's book. Again, even when Chagrin pops up, you don't feel Bond and Scarlet are in a particularly sticky spot.

This all probably reads like I'm taking a :tup: on Sebastian Faulks from a great height. In fact there are a lot of things aboutt this I loved. The opening chapters (prior to the bleedin' Ekranoyawn) are excellent: The noirish parisian opening, the introduction to an older Bond feeling he's lost his spark. Everything in Paris is superb and drips with sophistication and the faded glamour I love about Fleming. The Tehran club scenes accompnied Darius are sexy, suprising and great fun. Obviously modelled on the Kerim scenes in FRWL and, for me, equally if not more memorable. They are also rather contrived and unimportant to the plot, which is no bad thing. Maybe faulks should have donw more of this... move us away from his pedestrian plot and just have a bit of fun.
I also like his interpretation of Rene Mathis as a wily ols Parisian adulterer. Unsuprisingly, as I say, everything Faulks sets in Paris is far more vibrant than the rest of the book.
The 004 "twist" is transparent from the off, but I think Scarlet is a sexy heroine I'd like to see more of. The "almost but not quite" sex scene in the "Trouser" chapter is very sexy, as is the splendid last few paragraphs. The trouble is that this sexual tension isn't consistent throughout, particularly when she and Bond make their escape through Russia. Two people who fancy each other in peril? Surely theyd be all over each other? Too often she and Bond come across as a pair of slightly flirty urban sophisticates, not two people falling wildly in lust.
And so, even when I try and be nice, and despite being one of the few people who went in to bat for Faulks when people slated the extracts, I find myself being critical. But theres plenty to like about DMC and I can't give it less than 3, perhaps even 3 and a half out of five.
Its not Fleming, but then it was never going to be. I wouldnt recommend it to someone new to Bond literature but any Fleming fan should find plenty to enjoy here as well as plenty to be frustrated by. All in all a bit of a missed opportunity.


That pretty much sums up my own feelings about it, though in far greater depth than I could be bothered to go into! :tup:

One thing though:-
Posted Image
We never do find out Gorners' true reasons for the attack; the anti-British thing was largely Scarletts' invention.




Posted Image
I see what you mean, he's obviously got a bee in his bonnet about Britian which 004 has somehow found out about, but its never really explained. Personally I don't mind if a plot is inconsistent or makes no sense. The problem with DMC's premise is just that it's so uninspired.


#33 Peckinpah1976

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 06:01 PM

Agreed! :tup:

#34 SecretAgent007

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 05:52 PM

I really wish that they would have ask Ken Follett to write this. I know that some of his latest novels are not as engaging as his earlier stuff, but he is a huge Fleming fan. I think he would have stepped up and hit a home run. I feel certain he would have come up with a better plot and characterizations. His writing style makes for a fast, engaging read as well. Why is it that every continuation author has to shoe horn references from past Fleming work? Or have Fleming characters kidnapped (M & May). Ugggg. Are there any DNA samples of Fleming we can have cloned??? :tup:

#35 wattenscheid09

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Posted 01 June 2008 - 04:35 AM

Hummmmm. Read it in three servings within 48 hours. And had to force myself as after some refreshing bits at the beginning nothing held my curiosity for a long while. Perhaps Faulks should have stuck to a simpler, Moonraker-like domestic story (the tennis match in the beginning was the brilliant and only highlight of the book).

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It seems like everything is there, all the elements, and I had some hopes when Bonds Afghan connection man was introduced... but the plotting was over clumsy, and I basically skipped over the last 25 pages or so. God, I mean, he meakes it out of the middle of the Sowjet Union without even breaking a sweat. I couldn't care less.

I had a real problem with the constant location-switching ("Meanwhile, in London/Washington" etc.). The idea is to give DMC a global dimension, but Bond himself drowns in the story.

007 himself comes across as old (I know that's the idea, but it doesn't make it more interesting) and surprisingly passive. most of the action is carried out by others. That's what is most sorely missed, the kind of urgency that Fleming's Bond had. And he enjoyed the things he did. This one doesn't. Things kind of happen to him. Just bo-o-o-ring, done 25hundred times in non-bond-books. Plus, I figured out the whole Scarlett thing within minutes.



Will probably never read it again, except (surprisingly) the May chapter in the beginning that everybody had been bombarding from the excerpt. I just grabbed COLONEL SUN again and found that after ten pages I'm much happier. But then, Kingsley Amis had the advantage too write in the Sixties.

Edited by wattenscheid09, 01 June 2008 - 06:10 AM.


#36 condor1337

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Posted 01 June 2008 - 06:37 AM

I bought Devil May care 5am sharp on the day of release. Being a postie as its advantages :-)
Not a bad read but okay. One thing of notice was my copy looks like a 1st edition with the number one inside the cover. According to ebay sellers they only produced 1500 1st ed?

Would be nice if it was. Anyhow, hearing someone mention Colonel Sun earlier spiked up a conversation with my brother. Apparently sitting on my mums loft is a copy. My Mission is to recover the long lost book to its rightful owner :-)

#37 Roebuck

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Posted 01 June 2008 - 10:14 AM

I really wish I was on holiday right now, as DMC is the kind of book that cries out to be read in airport departure lounges or pavement cafes on summer afternoons. It's an easy, undemanding read and, whatever his deficiencies as a thriller writer, Faulks comes closer to capturing the feel of a Bond novel than the previous continuation authors (for me, at any rate).

As for the bad...

Posted Image
Faulks himself has commented that you can divide Fleming's stories into
'' crime busting books, in which Bond is really just a superior form of policeman'' and the other kind where 007 is trying to avert some sort of imminent holocaust. Faulks would have been on safer ground trying to keep DMC a crime busting book, rather than bringing in a ''countdown to doomsday'' element. With Gorner's background, having him use the Ekranoplan to deliver chemical weapons against a British target (for example) might have been plausible. Instead Faulks serves up a plot that expects us to believe in too many impossible things before breakfast. The second half of the novel needs to be a lot tighter and Gorner really should have had a better exit.

Oh, and Faulks tries to pull off that old Amis trick of giving 007 gadgets (in this case a trick lighter) that he's separated from before he gets a chance to use 'em. I appreciate he's trying to show Bond isn't dependent on Q branch gimmicks, but the Bond from the novels never was. I didn't think it was particularly clever in Colonel Sun and I don't like it any better in DMC.


BTW - Did anyone else have problems with the geography of the action scenes? I had a bit of trouble figuring who was standing where and doing what, especially
Posted Image
on board the VC-10.


#38 stromberg

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Posted 01 June 2008 - 08:38 PM

I'm sory, but I currently can't give this more than 2/5 stars. I'll reserve final judgement until I've read the English version , but I doubt that it'll change my opinion very much. May write a more detailed review after that.

Just for now: to many loose ends, to many plot holes and to many elements that serve no purpose, except for being shoehorned into the story. What's the point of the Felix/CIA sideplot? Mathis? The motorcycle chase? The Ekranoplan - great idea, but more or less wasted:
Posted Image
Why have Bond in the plane (why that plane at all?) instead of concentrating on the much more interesting vehicle?

and a few others.

It's not a bad read, it's nicely written and everything (even though at times I thought that he tried to do a Forsyth instead of a Fleming). But Faulks is no thriller writer, and it shows. From things he said in interviews before the release, I got the impression that he didn't take it all that serious. Looks like he somewhat underestimated the whole exercise. Pity.

#39 wattenscheid09

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 07:06 AM

...perhaps we are doing Faulks injustice. In his interviews he sounds like an author who would have gone for a nice little "domestic policeman" Bond-Story - his best parts are the small ones like the tennis match or the May/Regent's Park sequences. But certainly he was instructed to "make it BIIIG" "with a BANG", as Devil May Care was to go out as THE mega event of the centenary. Also, we literary Bond-afficcionados are hyper-critical, but perhaps average Joe enjoys the "chaotic action sequence in Afghanistan" style of this book more than we do - he might find small, domestic Bond bo-o-oring.

#40 Jim

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 07:15 AM

...perhaps we are doing Faulks injustice. In his interviews he sounds like an author who would have gone for a nice little "domestic policeman" Bond-Story - his best parts are the small ones like the tennis match or the May/Regent's Park sequences. But certainly he was instructed to "make it BIIIG" "with a BANG", as Devil May Care was to go out as THE mega event of the centenary. Also, we literary Bond-afficcionados are hyper-critical, but perhaps average Joe enjoys the "chaotic action sequence in Afghanistan" style of this book more than we do - he might find small, domestic Bond bo-o-oring.


That's interesting - and didn't he select Moonraker as his most influential or best (or whatever the criterion was) Bond novel a few weeks ago? I wonder if that was intended as some sort of signal. Probably not, but it's amusing speculation.

#41 ACE

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 08:13 AM

Apart from the obvious mistakes (shame), I found DMC to be a breezily suave, jauntily entertaining, sporadically filmic, resonantly period James Bond pistache. As most people reading it will have never read an Ian Fleming Bond novel before, and as the weight of the critical establishment ("Oh, it's Seb Faulks, y'know" - read the glowing reviews and see the BBC Late Night review below) and a massive Penguin publicity push (gosh, Bond really IS back!) is fully behind the book, it is a wonderful thing to have a loud literary Bond success. I hope this paves the way for more adult Bond novels. I enjoyed the fun of the book.

See the BBC Late Night review here and ask yourself who knows their Bond?
http://www.bbc.co.uk.../b00bv63l.shtml

We might recognize an "Admiral" here




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHCEwIkNtkE

#42 Sylvia Trench

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 10:35 AM

I agree entirely with the earlier post - why go to all the trouble of setting up the fantastic ekranoplane and then not do anything with it? How much more fun to have the climax on the 'ek' than a rerun airplane shootout that we've seen a hundred times before?

#43 sharpshooter

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 12:00 PM

I give it 3/5. A decent Bond adventure that could have been better.

#44 Glenn

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 12:22 PM

I am half way through and I am so far underwhelmed. I haven't read anything else by Faulkes, but I was expecting something better than this. So far it seems to be a direct copy of Goldfinger with other bits of books and films tacked on.

Bond observes villain whilst doing something else (on another mission or on holiday)

Bond gets introduced to villain by playing sports with him (golf or tennis)

Bond girl has sister who is being abused / been abused by villain

Villain is deformed (oh that one has been done to death. Role on QoS)

Villain has a hatred of Britain because people laughed at him (at least Alex Trevalyane had a more legitimate excuse)

Bond has a chatter box ally in Persia (Iran). Damn but he sounds and acts like Kerim Bay.

And the story doesn't seem to sit in the Sixties. Only the odd mention of recieving telgraphs at hotel desk dates this a little, otherwise it could easily be contempory.

Still, I'll wait until I have finished it before drawing an overall conclusion.

#45 Scrambled Eggs

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 04:57 PM

it is a wonderful thing to have a loud literary Bond success. I hope this paves the way for more adult Bond novels. I enjoyed the fun of the book.


Its certainly a commercial success. But is it just a blip or will it prove to be something longer lasting?

Will DMC convince people new to the literary Bond to try reading Fleming or other Bond novels? Not sure. Be great if it does. I'd love it if this leads to another adult Bond novel.

#46 Sbott

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 10:53 PM

As a fan of Faulk's previous novels and obviously a fan of Fleming I found this a disappointment. Perhaps it was all the build up which sets expectations far too high.

- As someone else wrote the book is putdownable - it doesn't grab you. In many ways its almost too mechanical, as if Faulks felt restrained by this notion that he had to write as Fleming.

- I think it is fantastic that the book has been a sales success and that it will introduce many new people to the books of Fleming (and maybe also Gardner, Benson etc.). Its success should also act as a launch-pad for more adult Bond books which are hopefully more engaging.

#47 TheSaint

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 01:21 AM

I'll give it 3/5. It had its moments. I didn't mind the references to past adventures-I like that kind of thing. I agree that with others that Bond should've been on the Ekranoplan, not the VC-10. This book should've had a subtitle-DMC: The Poppy Is Also a Flower. Some similarity between the two.

#48 ImTheMoneypenny

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 10:09 PM

I finally finished the book, and I'd give it a 3/5 too. After a while to me it was as if a computer was fed every bit of Bond material, chopped up and re-arranged the pieces and out spat DMC. No real heart. I'm not sure if it was ever supposed to anything more. That said, I do hope it will lead to more adult Bond adventures, though as someone else commented more engaging adventures. I also hope that it would turn the casual Bond fan, who's never read Fleming before, onto the real stuff.

#49 MarkA

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 10:25 PM

I enjoyed the fun of the book.

Do you know I could have predicted your liking of this book. I am sorry apart from from some nicely written passages, it is Bond by the numbers and dull, dull, dull. Kingsley Amis still reigns supreme in the Bond continuation stakes. Still miles better than Benson. Like the Moneypenny Diaries though.

#50 MarkA

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 10:59 PM

Further to above. Watched the Newsnight review. Yes Paul Morley's the Bond fan and I couldn't agree more with his very eloquent review of what was wrong with the book. I found the other reviewers insufferable snobs. Of course Faulks would write a better Bond book then Fleming, in their world. The whole exercise, now the book is out, reminds me of a Classical musician trying to play Jazz and improvise. It comes out as a very stiff and static piece of literature, which though ticks the boxes, does not fly and take off like Fleming

Edited by MarkA, 03 June 2008 - 11:47 PM.


#51 ACE

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 11:53 PM

MarkA, in your opinion, how does DMC rank amongst the Gardners?

#52 Harmsway

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 03:21 AM

I haven't read DEVIL MAY CARE yet, but man, it's not met with a nice reception from the fanbase. Is it really all that bad, or just a case of failed expectations? Because I get that it's no COLONEL SUN, but it also seems like folks are putting it above the Gardner and Benson novels in quality.

And for those of you who have read the Christopher Wood novelizations (both worthwhile reads in their own right), how does DEVIL MAY CARE measure against those? I ask because the Wood novels strike me as a primie example of "Fleming pastiche," which seems to be the consensus as to the nature of DEVIL MAY CARE.

#53 Johnboy007

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 03:59 AM

3/5

Detailed report in the spoiler tags. It's not Fleming, but I never expected it would be. The characters are okay, James Bond feels like James Bond, and the plot isn't completely stupid. As Jim said, this one is very easy to put down. In all I thought this was akin to an above-average Gardner. No cringe-worthy moments, but nothing that blew me away.

Posted Image

Plot/Action:
I never really felt compelled by anything in the story to continue reading other than the fact it was James Bond. Compared to some of Bond's past adventures, saving Britain from illicit drugs seemed like a bit of a let down.

It might however, be Amy Winehouse's last and only hope.

The rest of it involved into a weird mix of Moonraker, <span class="film">Die Another Day</span>, and Thunderball. Devil never seemed to really set itself apart from what we've already seen. The tennis match was plodding and the "revelation" that someone was secretly manipulating the nets was predictable. All of the stuff in Gorner's base never chilling or sinister. Faulks redeemed himself towards the end with the fight on the VC10 and the RAF bombing the Ekranoplan.

The Characters:
Bond: This is the one highlight of this book. I thought Faulks did an outstanding job of capturing his voice and personality. I never had any "That's not James Bond" moments.

Scarlett/Larissa/Poppy:
Felt like a Gardner girl to the point where I wondered when she would turn double. Never felt any real connection to her and didn't really care much what happened to her.

Julius Gorner:
The literary Gustav Graves (at least in Scarlett's story). Jolly old Britain didn't treat me well/I randomly hate them so I'll do everything in my power to turn it into a Third World country. The monkey paw felt gimmicky.

Sidekicks:
Darius was a welcome entry, but Felix and Rene were useless.

Misc.:
Not as bothered by some by the "knowy" references, but the Beatles/Stones reference was unnecessary. Still, it was refreshing to see the literary Bond back to the era in which he belongs. Ultimately the book as a whole is fine and well written, but it all felt underwhelming. It was classy, but I expected more based on all the hype that surrounded Faulks' announcement.

I hope IFP will produce more continuation novels, but I want someone with experience writing thriller/spy/intrigue stories. Faulks isn't up to the challenge in this genre.


And with that I begin my re-reading of the Flemings. :tup:

#54 Simon

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 08:51 AM

Grief, we are still yet to start this but it is becoming less and less appealing.

Who'd have thought it would be up to Young Bond and Moneypenny to save the literary day?

#55 sharpshooter

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 09:10 AM

Grief, we are still yet to start this but it is becoming less and less appealing.

Who'd have thought it would be up to Young Bond and Moneypenny to save the literary day?


Quite right. DMC didn't maintain my interest as the YB series did.

#56 Trident

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 09:16 AM

Grief, we are still yet to start this but it is becoming less and less appealing.

Who'd have thought it would be up to Young Bond and Moneypenny to save the literary day?



Well, up to now the voting doesn't seem to mirror many critics (myself included; although I have to say I didn't finish, so I won't judge it). 50 percent think it's 'decent'; more than 10 percent see it even 'close to Fleming' and almost 4 percent think it's 'the best one since Fleming'.

#57 David Schofield

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 09:52 AM

Extremely disappoined. Littered with errors. Clearly, a case of Faulks slumming it, and not taking the project seriously. Wouldn't have mattered had this not been sold as "writing as Ian Fleming". This is Faulks writing as Raymond Benson. Anyone who thinks this style recreates Fleming, or is evocative of Fleming, hasn't read Fleming. Still, its done what IFP hoped, I guess: loads of publicity and a, probably temporary, bestseller.

Sure, it is better written than Benson (though not as well plotted). But it is not in the class of Amis, Wood, Pearson and early Gardner. But ALL the continuation authors benefit by comparison with DMC.

One observation I would add that doesn't seem to have been made is that Faulks continually has Bond absent from passages, a constant failure of the continuation novels. Fleming's books were ABOUT James Bond - how many passages was he missing from? Little occured that Bond was not involved with (if you exclude the obvious intros of FRWL and TSWLM). Like most continuation authors (excluding Amis and Wood) Faulks seems afraid simply to WRITE about JAMES BOND!! Chuck out the aimless first chapter (shock horror - we learn drugs involves nasty people who come to bad ends, Chagrin's a nutter, Mathis has a mistress!) and go straight in with Bond. Take out the pointless Leiter, CIA, Persian chap (so unmemorable I can't recall his name!) subplot and the book is shorter and more taught. And, of course, have the book proof-read by someone who knows Bond (rather than can just spell). And about Bond.

But the one thing one does learn about DMC is that Ian Fleming was a better writer than Sebastian Faulks is. How does that sound, literary set? :tup:

#58 Blofeld's Cat

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 12:00 PM

Grief, we are still yet to start this but it is becoming less and less appealing.

Yeah, I might just wait for the movie.

Then read the novelization.

#59 zencat

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 12:12 PM

Just jumping in here to say I haven't read the book yet (although I already own 8 copies :tup:). I'm just back from a non-stop trip to London for the Centenary week. Had the time of my life, but my ambition of sitting in the hotel on the 28th and reading the book cover to cover didn't happen. I did read the first two chapters on the plane and I liked what I read a lot. I'll be back...

#60 Simon

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 01:06 PM

It's a pity as my wife is still thoroughly enjoying Human Traces and I daresay DMC is going to suffer tragically by comparison.

I think she has read a couple of reviews but if she were to see this lot, an open mind is unlikely.

As it is, I will thoroughly enforcing an open mind but we'll see whether the Mind is up to it.

zencat, as a staunch admirer of all Bond novels, can one really see this changing for DMC? Just kidding a mite, will still be interested in your assessment.


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