I never understood the whole Sebastian Faulks writing as Ian Fleming schtick as the book never felt like Fleming. Like you said, there is good stuff in there and it has great potential. But it wastes it on an undercooked villain, a Darko Kerim stand in, and the most ridiculous twist this side of Rey being a Palpatine. I just don’t get how Bond doesn’t figure out that Poppy and Scarlett are one and the same. Scarlett tells him, her sister, who is addicted to heroin, is named Poppy. I mean it’s so painfully telegraphed and Bond comes off as the biggest dolt as a result.
I also agree that Faulks seemed to be only collecting a pay check. I think the reasons Amis and Horowitz were so successful in their efforts, was that they were fans and actually cared. It showed in their works.