Author: John Gardner
Original language: English
Russian terrorists kidnap a man suspected of Nazi war crimes–and get the wrong man. The rebels threaten to kill their captive unless ten million dollars and the real war criminal are delivered to them within 72 hours. Only the KGB’s newest secret weapon could possibly stop their plan–Comrade James Bond.
From Kirkus Reviews
Gardner rouses himself for more elaborate plotting than usual in his tenth stint as Ian Fleming’s stand-in, but Gardner’s James Bond, on loan to the KGB for some antiterrorist housecleaning, has aged a lot less gracefully than Sean Connery. A dissident Russian cabal calling itself The Scales of Justice (SoJ) has kidnapped somebody it claims is Josif Vorontsov, notorious second-in-command at Babi Yar, from his home in New Jersey and threatened to assassinate high-level brass hats until the government takes Vorontsov off their hands and places him on trial for war crimes. When the Kremlin denies that SoJ has the real Vorontsov and refuses to recognize his extradition, SoJ begins taking out high-level brass hats, and the KGB asks British Intelligence to let them have somebody–guess who–able to infiltrate SoJ by substituting for two English-speaking recruits. Gardner lays some promising trails–Bond working for the KGB, Bond partnered by Mossad agent Pete Natkowitz, two interloping French agents (one a natural bedmate), the news that SoJ intends to videotape its own free-lance war-crimes trial, and all the usual seductions, killings, double-crosses, flashbacks, and intimations of The End (this time by hard-liners bombing Washington while the US is busy bombing Baghdad)–but the going keeps getting muddier, as if somebody else had finished the book over a third martini (shaken, not stirred). Bond saves the world, gets the woman and the Order of Lenin, and turns in a less muffled performance than in last year’s Brokenclaw, though still below average for Gardner’s series. Let’s not talk about how far below Fleming’s average.