Sunday, May 30, 2010

James Bond: The Union Trilogy, by Raymond Benson

James Bond: The Union Trilogy: Three 007 Novels: High Time to Kill, Doubleshot, Never Dream of Dying, by Raymond Benson

I’d read a few of Benson’s James Bond novels before (most notably The Facts of Death where 007 visits Austin and has dinner at Chuy’s) so when I found this compilation of High Time to Kill, Doubleshot, and Never Dream of Dying on a bargain table, how could I resist? I do think Bond stories come off better on the big screen than on paper (unlike Ludlum), but these three form a loose trilogy that fit well together. The Union is a terrorist organization that MI6 fights throughout, taking the place of SMERSH and SPECTRE in the Fleming novels. Bond fights them with his usual humor and ruthlessness, teaming up with Rene Mathis and his father-in-law from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Marc-Ange Draco. The main antagonist was typically over the top, possessing a Daredevil-like ESP, but entertaining as only a Bond villain can be. Of course 007 prevails in the end, but not without leaving a trail of sex and death in his wake.

There is also a satisfying short story, “Blast From the Past” included in this book, telling the ultimate fate of Irma Bunt from the novels On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and You Only Live Twice. Often I think Bond is more effective when seen in a short story rather than a full novel, and this was no exception. I can’t shake the feeling I’d read this before somewhere, but still loved it.

First Sentence of High Time to Kill:
The barracuda surprised them by opening its jaws to an angle of ninety degrees, revealing the sharp rows of teeth that were capable of tearing out chunks of flesh in an instant.
First Sentence of Doubleshot:
The Convent’s Security Officer gasped when he saw what came up on the computer screen.
First Sentence of Never Dream of Dying:
A tiny bead of sweat appeared at the commandant’s right temple and lingered there, waiting for the moment when it would drop off and trickle down the man’s high, scarred cheekbone.

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