The return is James Bond has been marked by the latest novel by Jeffrey Deaver, the best selling American author. John Spain reviews the newest adventure of the reborn spy.
He has bravely taken on and suavely defeated the likes of Oddjob, May Day, Jaws and Rosa Klebb in the past.
But James Bond faces an entirely more humdrum henchman in his latest adventure -- an Irishman called Niall Dunne.
The beginning of the latest Bond book, which was published around the world yesterday, heavily features a deadly assassin initially known simply as 'The Irishman.'
'Carte Blanche,' commissioned by the estate of the late Bond creator Ian Fleming, is written by the best-selling American thriller writer Jeffery Deaver.
Deaver follows in the footsteps of Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and Sebastian Faulks in trying to bring Bond back to life on the page, and early reviews have been largely favourable.
The opening sequence takes place in Serbia where a gangly Irishman with a distinctive blond fringe is waiting for a train carrying methyl isocyanate -- the chemical that killed 8,000 people in the 1984 Bhopal disaster in India -- to plunge into the Danube.
Bond's orders are to "conduct an extraordinary rendition" of the Irishman back to Britain so he can be forced to reveal the nature of a bigger threat.
But the spy learns about the train and the Irishman's plans to derail it, spilling the deadly chemical into the Danube.
Bond manages to stop him, but only just, and within a few pages the Irishman -- who we learn is from the North, and is described as 6ft 2in tall, with a strange walk -- has killed, cut throats and ripped toenails off people getting in the way of his escape plans.
The latest Bond book is bang up to the minute, in a post-9/11 world.
The spy is addicted to his smartphone, and both M and Miss Moneypenny are back.
What is different is that everyone is as young as when Fleming first created the characters, but they have been placed in a contemporary story.
Bond is just back from Afghanistan and he is working for a new agency so secret that even MI5 and MI6 don't know it exists.
The agency has received intelligence suggesting that an event will shortly cause thousands of casualties and adversely affect British interests.
Bond has been given carte blanche -- or complete freedom -- to stop this event, including removing The Irishman.
We eventually learn that the Irishman's name is Niall Dunne, which doesn't have quite the same ring to it as Oddjob or any of the other Bond henchmen of old.
Dunne, in turn, works for Severan Hydt, a businessman who has long, "yellowing" fingernails and an obsession with corpses and decay. Hydt is the big boss.
Deaver has sold more than 20 million books on both sides of the Atlantic.
He is best known for his Lincoln Rhyme novels, including 'The Bone Collector,' which was turned into a hit movie.
The author was asked to write the book by members of Bond creator Ian Fleming's family and said he had no hesitation in agreeing to do it.
He said: "I debated about 10 seconds and said, 'Yes, I'm on board,' because I've always been a fan of Ian Fleming's writing.
"I read my first James Bond novel at about eight years old and I never stopped."
The first copies of 'Carte Blanche' arrived in London this week, delivered by Royal Marine Commandos in a stunning display, involving abseiling, a fast car and a beautiful Bond girl on a motorbike.
The book is available on Amazon.com from June 14th.
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