A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by John Lutz


JOHN GARDNER – License Renewed. Rochard Marek, US, hardcover, 1981. Berkley, US, paperback, 1982. Published first in the UK by Jonathan Cape, hardcover, 1981.

   After the death of Ian Fleming, the holders of the James Bond copyright bestowed upon John Gardner the honor and responsibility of moving the British master spy, along with his galaxy of gadgets and arch-villains, into the 1980s. This established thriller writer has responded admirably.

   Here Bond is assigned to infiltrate the castle of the Laird of Murcaldy, a renowned nuclear scientist who has had meetings with an international terrorist known as Franco. Bond manages to deftly extract an invitation to Gold Cup Day at Ascot. Very English. He is off to the castle in the highlands, where he meets people with names like Mary Jane Mashkins and Lavender Peacock and affects the courses of nations with names like England, France, and America.

   If this novel isn’t a Fleming original, it is still great fun. Everything Bond fans would expect is here: the eccentric, larger-than-life villain with his sexy and thoroughly evil female companion and preternaturally tough henchman; the seductive and seduced beautiful woman of questionable allegiance; the slyly sexual double entendre; the infusion of ultramodern technology; and the name-dropping of expensive quality brands of everything from perfume to handguns.

   So artfully has Gardner penetrated and captured Fleming’s style that one can only wonder if Bond’s old nemesis, SPECTER, might somehow be involved. No doubt Bond’s boss, the enigmatic M, could tell us; but. as usual, he is tight-lipped.

   Another recommended title in the new Bond series by Gardner is Role of Honor (1984).

Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust