Double Or Nothing by Kim Sherwood out 1st September 2022

That’s not my point.

Within the fictional world things have to make sense according to the parameters given.

Otherwise Q could have been promoted to M, too.

So, who’s in charge of MI6? ‘C’?

Maybe I should order the book? Im getting the notion of Carte Blanche vibes from reading this thread.

A new M (who is a former 00, not Miles Messervy or any of the Judi Dench analogues) is the head of MI6, while Moneypenny (without any letter designation) is the head of the 00 Section. I would say yes, just get the book and judge for yourself. I did quite enjoy it, despite some apprehension. I have both a spoiler and non-spoiler review a few pages above.

I got the book shortly after it was released, but somehow can’t bring myself to read it.

https://twitter.com/anthonyburgess/status/1592872052389974018

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Oh boy!

So I just got done with it - a solid 12 hour read. Probably the longest I’ve taken to read a Bond novel :smile:

First off, I have to say, it’s a great book. I was skeptical about this project to begin with. It seemed like a bit of a cash-grab at best, and an exercise in making the Bond franchise ‘woke’ at worst. But then watched interviews of Kim Sherwood, and her sincerity about her love for Bond and Fleming really shone through! Sherwood isn’t trying to undermine Fleming or Bond or denounce them as outdated or ‘politically incorrect’ - she simply wants to add her own contemporary (and somewhat more progressive) perspective to Fleming’s world. And for the most part, I think she’s pulled it off brilliantly. The only part which felt preachy and made me tune out a bit was Moneypenny’s prolonged lecture on climate change to 004 during the mission briefing.

The three 00’s we’re introduced to are all well fleshed out. Joanna Hardwood, 003, is easily the most fleshed out of the bunch (which I figured, given how much Sherwood spoke about her compared to the others). The dichotomy of her being a doctor and a killer was already juicy, but the whole idea of her being a progressive and idealistic person who’s also a covert government agent, and how that figures into the plot and her arc in this novel, was a stroke of genius on Sherwood’s part. People joke about Bond becoming ‘woke’ - Sherwood actually gives us a new 00 agent who’s somewhat ‘woke’ and really delves deep into the implications of that, both positive and negative.

004 AKA Joseph Dryden is the next best developed, particularly in terms of his relationship with Lucky Luke. 009 AKA Sid Bashir is an intriguing character too, who, to my mind at least, gets the least development but still remains memorable.

I love how seamlessly the novel splits the plot between 004 on one end and 003 and 009 on the other. There are times when a typical Bond novel drags due to something like Bond being captured, or Bond waiting to make a move (or for the villain to make a move). Here, Sherwood has the luxury to switch to another protagonist when things start to slow down in one part of the story, constantly keeping us on our toes.

Heading into SPOILER territory now…

Summary

I knew that Felix Leiter and Mary Ann Rusell were returning due to some early reviews, but the return (sort of) of Trigger and of Tiger Tanaka were a complete surprise! All of their returns made this truly feel like Bond’s world, even in his absence. And they were also meaningful to the plot and not just pure fanservice. I look forward to seeing more with Felix, Trigger and Tanaka in these books, as well as the possible return of other Fleming characters. Mathis? Mary Goodnight? Bring 'em on!

In general I love that this isn’t a hard ‘reboot’ like Carte Blanche (though I also loved that book) and it’s actually kinda set in Fleming’s continuity, albeit updated to the present-day (in the same vein as Gardner or Benson’s books). Though the chronology does get a little confusing on one point - Bond is supposed to be a little over 45 during the events of this book, meaning he’d have been born sometime in the mid-1970’s. And yet, we’re told that the events of From a View to a Kill happened in the late 90’s. So are we supposed to believe that Bond was already active as 007 in his early twenties? It’s a minor nitpick admittedly but was a little frustrating when I tried to imagine the timeline of Bond’s career here.

I loved the world-building in general. It was neat to keep both the Regent’s Park and Vauxhall Cross headquarters, with the former being the Double O HQ and the latter being HQ to MI6 proper. I loved the ‘generational’ aspect to MI6 - Sir Miles Messervy (the former M), Mrs. Keator and Major Boothroyd being the first-gen, Sir Emery Ware (the current M) and Bill Tanner being the second-gen, Bond and Moneypenny being the third-gen, and the new 00’s and the current Q Branch techs being the fourth-gen and the future of the Service. Speaking of Q, the quantum computer idea was great and frankly felt a lot more ‘realistic’ and modern than a guy handing out explosive pens (though I look forward to seeing some of those in the next book!)

Sherwood has said in interviews that her introduction to Bond was through the Brosnan films and it shows. Sir Bertram Paradise really feels like a Brosnan era villain (I felt he channelled the ghost of Elliot Carver a little, but that’s maybe because I just rewatched Tomorrow Never Dies. I loved the little call-backs to the Brosnan films - a chapter titled Icarus, ‘‘the world is not enough’’ almost being said by Moneypenny, ‘‘I’m just a professional doing a job’’ and of course, the mention of 006 being Bond’s friend who turned rogue.

Rattenfanger seem to be set up as the new SPECTRE here and I’m interested to see where this goes.

009’s death was tragic. I kinda knew one of the three would die and I’m glad Sherwood did it, because she could afford to (with multiple protagonists to choose from) and because it legit raises the stakes. But it did feel a waste because I feel we barely got to explore Sid Bashir compared to the other two. It certainly makes Johanna’s story interesting moving forward, since she now has her own ‘Tracy’ haunting her.

Last, but not least, I was a tad disappointed in how they handled the mole reveal. Not at the decision to make it Bill Tanner per se (that was gutsy!) But it was a bit anti-climatic. What could have been a truly shocking twist was diluted by the fact that everyone suspected Tanner for the last third of the novel or so, he was even in custody, and everything seemed to be set up to pull the rug under our feet and reveal that he wasn’t the mole after all…only for us to be told, almost belatedly, that he was the mole. An idea that we’d had a while to get low-key used to, and so had lost some of its shock value.

Frankly, I thought that they’d reveal that M was the mole and that was why Sherwood introduced her own new version of M instead of using Fleming’s. Who knows, maybe that’s still on the cards?

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Thanks! I haven’t read your spoilers part, but your review and overall presentation sure makes it appealing.

I may well end up reading it after all (while hoping it’s not too “woke-oriented”)…

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Glad to see that my post has had an impact :grinning:

I don’t think it’s too woke-oriented (or even emphatically so). The only part I found overly preachy was a briefing Miss Moneypenny gives 004 on climate change early on. That apart, there is some discussion about issues like police brutality, racism, feminism, inequality etc. but it’s pretty organic and it makes sense for the characters involved to have those perspectives.

James Bond isn’t deconstructed any more than, say, the Craig films have deconstructed him. Most of the other characters respect or even revere him (the villains trash-talk him a bit, but that’s to be expected).

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Once again, isn’t it better to wake up to reality than to stay asleep in one‘s own dreamworld?

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Or maybe not push agendas disguised as veiled context?

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Everybody is pushing their agenda - one can recognize it, share it, dislike it. But to expect something that is free of any agenda is pointless.

By the way, the fear of being awake and responsible, connected with the urge not to be, is an agenda, too.

And nobody forces anyone to enjoy a particular entertainment.

Why has it become impossible, apparently, to just not buy or to switch off something? Why does everything has to be exactly like one wants it?

And as for Bond: I never enjoy the “agenda” of having Bond being a macho male, sending out women because “man talk” was beginning. Still I could enjoy “Goldfinger”. Why? Because one can separate personal viewpoints from those that are presented in entertainment.

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Tarkovsky was sadly right to say that all people want is a mirror.

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Had the Stitches taken out of my toe last Wednesday,by a home visit nurse and was taken back to the hospital to assess my foot last Friday.So far so good, I am currently tied up with watching the world cup at the moment,but will return to the book soon…

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Sounds very annoying. Keep up the good spirits!

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Spirits? Not allowed to drink those at the moment! Although I did have a little shot of scotch in honour of the fortieth aniversary of my dad’s passing last week.

My mate nasty Alex the jaws lookalike kindly bought me three six packs of alcohol free lager the other night,so I can have a “drink” when I’m watching england or France in the world cup. England as that’s my country of birth and residence and France as it’s the country of my ancestors,well my great grandfather

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Oh and of course I watch our Celtic cousins, Wales ,play but are obviously not behind them when they are playing England

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