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Review: James Bond, Reflections of Death

I ended up reading this for two reasons. One: the excellent cover, which made me think of a noirish, 1960s Bond, maybe done in the style of the recent Casino Royale and Live And Let Die trade paperbacks. Two: it was sealed in plastic so I couldn't flip through and see what a shambolic mess it really is. If you’re hoping for an epic trade paperback length story you will be sorely disappointed by this handful of one shots pretending to be something else. These feel like back up stories done for the regular comic run. Or a mini-series that was recognised as being too weak to get away with and has been disguised as something grander. The overarching plot is both shallow and confused and serves o

Review: Troubled Blood

The first three books in the Cormoran Strike series explored worlds, such as celebrity and publishing, that felt real and somehow opened up to outsiders by the stories. This fourth one, Lethal White, was set mostly in the world of the traditionally Posh British upper class, and didn't seem quite so well observed. The murder happened very late in the book and is surrounded by red herrings that, ultimately, were a bit too gauche when explained. One nice touch was that the central motive is hidden in plain sight from the very first, but those responsible are little more than caricatures and it's hard to care all that much about whether they are brought to justice or not. Curiously, I thought th


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Blanket7 - real?

In Rakehell, agents like John Caul operate under what is known as a ‘Blanket7’, referring to Section 7 of the Intelligence Services Act of 1994, which gives immunity from prosecution in the UK to agents of the crown for crimes committed overseas. In Caul’s world this is a wide-ranging immunity which technically is not supposed to exist and is, in effect, a license to kill. It basically means that the agent has been given in advance the right to take the assumptions of Section 7 to their maximum logical conclusion. So, is it real? Yes and no. There is no Blanket7 as such referred to in the ‘real’ world operations of the Secret Service. But if there were a world in which the UK habitually sent

Caul's Angels

Betsy Gale: Image by Jason Yoder. Licensed from Unsplash Luckily John Caul doesn’t have to save the world alone. He has three remarkable women joining the action: the mysterious painter Betsy Gale he meets on the SecreSea; the adventurous TV producer Coira Love, who has chased her story to the Russian tundra; and para-athletic circus star Beatrix Carrier, Rakehell’s most recent lover. Let’s get it out of the way. The idea comes from the James Bond films. Yes, films, not books. In the Bond books only once does Bond have three trysts in one book (Goldfinger; Pussy Galore and the Masterton sisters), but the films are more profligate. According to Wikipedia, so let’s assume it’s true, Roald Dahl

Meet John Caul

(c) Jerry Bauer from the book cover of Millennium People John Caul's origins came from a weird idea that came to me one day: what if it had been J G Ballard who had picked up the mantle of Bond author after Ian Fleming died rather than Kingsley Amis? What if Ballard had become Robert Markham? Of course there would be car crashes, but that would not be any different to the usual Bond novel. But what sort of villains would Ballard create, and what about their plots? Certainly he would not be so squeamish about preserving the status quo. From there I began thinking about the world of Super-Cannes and it was not far from there to the SecreSea. Around the same time I read a spy thriller, part of



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