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THE MAN WITH THE RED TATTOO by Raymond Benson

THE MAN WITH THE RED TATTOO

The New James Bond Adventure

By Raymond Benson

Pub Date: June 10th, 2002
ISBN: 0-399-14884-1
Publisher: Putnam

James Bond, British Intelligence's immortal action hero, returns to Japan to stop a Mishima-quoting crimelord whose killer mosquitoes threaten to disrupt a G8 conference, and worse.

With terrorists maintaining a daily presence in the news, the greatest challenge for Benson, the American author currently working the Bond book franchise, is plotting a tale that can have Bond do what the US military doesn’t: infiltrate a terrorist organization and take down the bad guy in charge. Benson succeeds by sticking with the tried if not-so-true formula: deluxe tourism (Bond endures endless lectures about Japanese culture, sees the sights and stays in only luxury hotels, so he can maintain his cover as a wealthy playboy, Benson tells us), over-the-top action (a flashy sword-fight during a Kabuki performance, a bout with a karate-kicking dwarf inside the 50 km-long undersea Seikan Tunnel) and sex—first with Reiko Tamura, a brainy aide to Tiger Tanaka, the semiretired head of Japanese law enforcement first introduced in Fleming's You Only Live Twice (1967), then with Mayumi McMahon, a high-class prostitute “practically perfect in every way” who inherits a drug company after Japanese mafiosi murder her relatives. Tattooed Japanese nationalist Goro Yoshida, first introduced in Never Dream of Dying (2001), needs the drug company to breed genetically altered mosquitoes whose sting inflicts a fatal form of West Nile disease. Yoshida's reasons for setting his bugs loose at a G8 conference, and then in cities throughout the world, aren't terribly clear, but it's enough for Bond to get involved, equipped with an exploding Palm Pilot, a collar-stay knife, a packet of gas-making antacid pills, and his trusty Walther PPK.

Benson's prose is as limp as ever (“Tokyo lay before him, a sprawling, metropolitan machine”)—but for mindless escapism, Bond suffices when nothing else will.