DEATH TO SPIES
Fawcett has had some success injecting series life into the fictional character of Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's smarter brother (The Flying Scotsman, etc.). But Fawcett's taxidermy skills fail him here, as he tries to turn writer Ian Fleming into a believable fictional character. James Bond's creator, who was a mid-level agent for British naval intelligence during WWII, did retire to Jamaica and work there as a local journalist before turning some of his own and his colleagues' adventures into his famous 007 series—which kept him living in fine style until his early death. But Fawcett's fiction asks us to believe that Fleming let himself be talked back into the espionage game in the early 1950s, traveling from Jamaica to Los Alamos in order to probe leaks of atomic secrets by British scientists. Brand names familiar to Bond fans dot every page—enough Players cigarettes get smoked to qualify as a paid endorsement—but all the details don't add up to a complete or even an interesting portrait of a fictional Fleming. Nor can the stiff, silly dialogue ("Oh, Ian," says a Jamaican madam, "so proper and cool, and with the fires of hell seething inside you") or the inside jokes (the British spymaster who visits Fleming offers an "authorization to kill" if he takes the job) make readers believe they're in Bond country. (July)
Forecast:The latest Bond pastiche (The Man with the Red Tattoo by Raymond Benson) is just out from Putnam; booksellers may want to pair the two.
Release date: 08/01/2002