Carte Blanche. The rewriting of a superhero

Not a review of Carte Blanche, Jeffery Deaver’s reincarnation of Ian Fleming’s James Bond

Readers of any Bond story expect to find reference to much-loved and hated characters. There must be some hi-tech spy gimmicks for escaping and killing. There must also be a mastermind villain plus mastermind villain’s dreadful and evil plan which Bond has to thwart.

The ultimate Carte Blanche

Then there is the Bond antagonist who attempts but ultimately fails to kill Bond, and a few supermodel Bond babes for sexual, if transient, encounters in luxurious settings. Touches of sadistic violence and high fantasy are arguably also essential. Finally, we have Bond’s famous Licence to Kill, the ultimate Carte Blanche.

The challenge

The challenge is compounded through the success of the Bond films. The movie Bond might be considered authentic – even if the authenticity is based on a re-working of a fictional original, a simulacrum as the post-modernists like to say.

Icons and iconoclasts

Deaver risks accusations of heresy against a sacred belief. A militant army of Bond aficionados is ready to take up arms against false prophets…

The biggest challenge

The author has tricky creative decisions to make. What are ‘must leave in’ items? What are ‘affordable omissions’? What are ‘something extra’ items? Any new Bond has to be true to the mythology which is now thoroughly accepted through the superhero of the Bond films.

New Bond

Deaver sticks to a hero consistent with that to be found in the films, and arguably with the Bond in Fleming’s books. His Bond remains resourceful, courageous, a style icon, sexually voracious but with updating of his habits and attitudes. He has avoided the tempting ideas of producing a black Bond or a female Bond or a Gender-bending Bond.

No spoiler here

I won’t reveal the plot. The story does have the requisite components outlined above. When I checked by re-reading Fleming’s Casino Royale I was surprised at the patchiness of the writing and the level of sadism in the original. Carte Blanche is far less dark.

If you like Jeffery Deaver …

I felt the author had to sacrifice a bit too much of his own authentic style in his efforts at sticking to the old Bond format. But If you like Jeffery Deaver, you’ll probably enjoy this book.

One Response to Carte Blanche. The rewriting of a superhero

  1. A P Cameron says:

    We have had Faulks and now Deaver. Who next? Le Carre or what about a successful female author–Cornwell, Lynda La Plante, interesting to speculate on what they might do with the character. By the way, what does the success of Bond/Fleming tell us about leadership style? I guess Bond’s style is innovative and transformational while M’s is adaptive and transactional. Complementary styles create the perfect team?

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