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Devil May Care Full Review
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Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks

Penguin 2008

Read by Jeremy Northam

Unabridged CD audio edition

The unabridged CD edition of Devil May Care was released simultaneously with the hardback edition and is read to good effect by Jeremy Northam.

Northam’s reading is in sympathy with the text – the tempo is appropriately modulated to reflect the tension and mood of the book’s scenes and by and large the delivery is ideal for the thriller genre.

When Sebastian Faulks was asked to write the latest James Bond novel, he was perhaps an obvious choice, having previously written a collection of spoofs of other authors – an experience which appears to have been good preparation for this attempt to imitate Ian Fleming’s writing without descending

into parody.

The Bond in Devil May Care is more Ian Fleming’s rounded character, than the cardboard alternative in the Bond films.

There can be little doubt though that this novel will be turned into a film. And there is plenty in the book to keep the special effects and make-up departments busy.

The book is best regarded as an homage to Ian Fleming – the Bond novel Fleming would have written had he lived. But is it a success? Absolutely. The writing, plot, characters and scenarios all combine pleasantly to bring to mind Ian Fleming’s novels.

Where the novel disappoints is in its ability to provide a good thrill. Faulks’ pen is awkward in some of his fight scenes, which are often difficult to understand. This is a pity – because well written fight scenes can signify far more than just the throwing and landing of blows and can add significantly to the thrill of reading a thriller.

If the action fails to grip, however, the plot is very engaging, the narrative absorbing and there are sufficient traces of the wit and irony and – yes – contemplation and reflection, expected of Bond to keep the novel fresh throughout.

The plot is essentially of the supervillain variety – the arch crook in this instalment is the utterly depraved, but intelligent, passionate and even occasionally witty megalomaniac, Dr Gorner. Gorner is a dubious drug merchant and has a thing about the British. And as Bond so clearly epitomises the race, perhaps this explains the degree of torment Gorner tries to force our hero to endure.

Gorner is a mistake. He is a puzzling and contradictory character – coupling a bizarre morality with profound inhumanity. In the end the scale of his depravity begins to depress, even as his schemes add to the sense of peril, drama and suspense.

Faulks twins the main plot with a well disguised subplot and draws together neatly all the strands of the novel into a tidy if somewhat clichéd ending.

There are many pitfalls in attempting to emulate a writer of genius.

Bond fans are likely to either hate or love the novel – seeing it either as a homage or as an impudent imitation.

This is a homage to the genius of Ian Fleming. Sebastian Faulks does very well. Though Faulks is not Fleming, this is probably the next best thing.

The presentation of the audiobook defies convention. Penguin have enclosed the CDs inside a brushed metal presentation box which is enclosed in a slipcase. The playback is split into man-size tracks of around 20-30 minutes – only 3 tracks on each CD.

This makes for a superior listening experience to the conventional 3 minute tracks which introduce unnecessary pauses in the playback. The whole is rounded with a suitably upbeat punk-rock song by British rock band, SAL who sing the theme song for the novel.

Litrev rating 3 / 5

Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks

Penguin 2008

Read by Jeremy Northam

Unabridged CD audio edition

 

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