Monday, November 27, 2017

Raking Up an Old Bond

Moonraker (James Bond, #3)Moonraker by Ian Fleming
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Moonraker gets cartoonishly fiendish with its plot and villains, making this the first of the James Bond books to feel like a James Bond movie.

Pure Cold War spy bliss, this book taps into our collective fear of mass annihilation after the successfully brutal bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A war hero has offered his vast fortune, ambition and knowledge to create and construct a missile supposedly capable of defending Britain in case of attack. A test of the missile is scheduled soon and Bond is put on security detail, because something just isn't quite right with the whole situation, so thinks he and his boss M.

Iam Fleming's own spycraft knowledge from having worked in intelligence during WWII is put to good use in these books. For a genre guy, he's also a decent writer. Doesn't it seem like all public-school-trained Englishmen know how to string along a decent sentence or two?

This is the first book in the series where we get a real decent in-depth look at M. It was a pleasant and unexpected treat to get to know M more intimately and see a little bit about what makes him tick. The book in general was fun, even if the bad guy and his righthand toady were a bit over-the-top...maybe it was fun because they were soooo dastardly!

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Grade A Murder

A Murder of QualityA Murder of Quality by John le Carré
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I haven't exactly rushed to read John le Carré's books, but whenever I've gotten around to it, I'm always glad I did!

The man can write. He's not the best. It's not all perfect, but it's damn good. The words just flow. The plots are solid. The characters feel like real people, which is sometimes a knock on mystery/crime writers. Carré spends more time rounding out his characters than your typical who-dun-it writer. Sometimes that means the action slows down and the intensity slackens, but that's all right. A change of pace is good!

A Murder of Quality goes old school. Literally, this is about the students, professors and institution of an exclusive boy's prep school. Think Eton. Tradition and having "the right stuff" are of paramount importance. The school has standards to maintain and by god they WILL be maintained!

Does that mean certain individuals, who are just too individual, need to be permanently removed like a blot might be scrubbed away? Former intelligence officer George Smiley is discreetly on the scene to discover what he can.

Smiley is a central figure in many of Carré's books. He's a likable old chap. Sensible, smart and crafty, and rather unassuming. No, not at all pompous. You root for him to take it out of the windbag or bring the snooty character down a peg. Without being overtly charming or particularly outstanding in any way, it's amazing how easily you suddenly find yourself rooting for Smiley.

This low-key character blends into the background of this equally low-key book, and yet you still pull for him from the edge of your seat by the end. A Murder of Quality is another book of quality by Carré!

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