BROKENCLAW by John E. Gardner


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Not even Ian Fleming hit the mark every time, and Gardner's latest James Bond pastiche, his ninth (soon he will have written more about Bond than Fleming did), reads as if it were written by a committee from a computer-generated summary of all the others. First, the supervillain: half-Chinese, half-Sioux Fu-Chu Lee (called Brokenclaw because his left hand has its thumb on the wrong side), who's kidnapped five scientists working on LORDS, a submarine signal detector, and LORDSDAY, its antidote, and who also plans to bring the world financial network to its knees by tapping into the computer bank of the New York Stock Exchange. Next, the counterplot: Bond will take the place of Peter Argentbright (a.k.a. Abelard)--a courier carrying Brokenclaw's payoff from the Chinese in return for the plans for LORDS and LORDSDAY--and will infiltrate the enemy's high-tech playground. Add some new faces in familiar roles--Sue Chi-Ho, who joins Bond in his masquerade, and Ed Rushia, the aw-shucks US Naval Intelligence officer running the show--to a cast including Bond's chief M and the usual hostile local law (here, the San Francisco FBI), and let 'er rip. Sadly, all too little ripping gets done: Bond watches a man following him get beaten to death; hears a long story about how Brokenclaw got his clutches into Wanda Man Song; and worries about whether he's going to go the way of that other Peter Abelard, but gets almost no chance to act like James Bond until his final face-off with this year's incarnation of evil--a competitive trial by torture described graphically but with a complete lack of conviction. Bond has always been most engaging when he takes himself least seriously, as in last year's Win, Lose, or Die. Not this time.
Pub Date: July 17th, 1990
ISBN: 0425127214
Page count: 324pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1990


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