Shortly following the events chronicled in By Royal Command, James’ Aunt Charmian arranges for the incubating spy to spend a few weeks in an educational institute managed by an acquaintance of hers. She pulls a few strings to provide some extra privileges for the young man, which end up backfiring pretty significantly, at least from his point of view.
Within days, Master Bond is once again embroiled in a dangerous game of bloodthirsty criminals seeking to eliminate anyone who has learned of their plans, and retrieving evidence of same. In this particular installment, James cannot proceed alone; he must include members of his peer group, since they have all discovered the truth, and thus, all are targets.
Steve Cole skillfully takes over where Charlie Higson left off, crafting a well-constructed tale that leads the teenage James Bond incrementally closer to his destiny. The plot is solid, and the locations are described clearly, but I found the characters to be seriously lacking in both motivation and background. In fact, I was expecting to learn more of one particular person, since there were plenty of hints that he was integral to the story, but nothing ever materialized, much to my disappointment.
I did find, much to my enjoyment, plenty of terms, phrases and other assorted goodies connecting this episode to the original Fleming books. The author also appears to be preparing the reader for more insight into Bond’s family history, which has never been done in any detail previously. If he can pull that off without being maudlin, and also present us with more depth to his other characters, we fans will be in for some seriously enjoyable reading in the books to come.
Rated: Mild. Random instances of swearing and violent acts involving teenagers.