Double or Nothing by Kim Sherwood – James Bond is missing – and the stakes are high for MI6 in this exciting contemporary spy thriller
Double or Nothing by Kim Sherwood
“James Bond is Missing” is a sort of subtitle for this book, and it means that most people who have ever seen a Bond film or read an Ian Fleming novel will have some idea what this fast paced book revolves around. This, however, is no 1950s glamourous spy novel, nor yet a politically incorrect spy chase, this is a novel of high tech, ambitious operatives trying to track down the elusive 007. Who seems to have disappeared while on a mission, despite leaving a series of bewildered friends, lovers and spymasters in pursuit and search. This is novel of mystery, tension, secrets, potential betrayal and the dangers of just being a “00” with a licence to kill in the twenty first century. It reveals something of the doubts and hesitations of being a trained operative in a world of electronic surveillance, listening and instant communication. Despite the possibilities of quantum computing and the resulting problems of dropping out of sight anywhere in the world, there is a reassuring amount of human interaction and resourcefulness that cannot be performed by a computer.
The main characters are those at the top of Britain’s MI6 who are keen to discover what has happened to their most flamboyant operative who had made some noises about life after his usual work but seemed immortal and ever present. The new generation of spies, Joanna Harewood 003, Joseph Dryden 004 and Sid Bashir 009 are the brightest and best operatives in the field, especially as the number of active 00s have been recently reduced in various incidents. They all have their own background issues of difficult family situations, failed romances and in one case, severe injury which has led to an innovative adjustment. Though they are affected by Bond’s disappearance, they have a target in their sights – Sir Bertram Paradise, a tech billionaire who is claiming that he is developing the technology to reverse the effects of climate change – to effectively save the world. Meanwhile a sinister mercenary group have been doing their best to deflect attention from this central mission – to discover if Paradise is all that he claims. Those closest to him seem to be a shifting group – can the three OOs work out what is really going on with a man who seems to be determined to gamble with everything, even the future?
This is an enthralling novel which demanded my attention and kept it throughout a series of worldwide encounters. As each of the operatives make discoveries as they search for the truth of Paradise’s activities and associates, I also found the work of those behind the scenes, especially Moneypenny, fascinating. This is a novel with much to offer in terms of excitement, intrigue and danger to the main characters. James Bond is a theme in that is so cleverly handled as the references to his well-known preferences and habits are threaded throughout the narrative, especially given his status with the younger characters, but this is no mere Bond spinoff; it has its own identity as a genuine thrilling novel. It is difficult to write about in detail without revealing the twists, secrets and even lies that are necessary to the plot. The writing is clever, taking in details as well as holding to the main drive of the story. The characters are well drawn and consistent, given that secrets are emerging about them throughout. This is an exciting and innovative novel which I was very pleased to have the opportunity to read and review, and I recommend it as an excellent read for all those who enjoy a spy-based thriller, and many others who are fascinated by contemporary technology in action.