Monday, April 25, 2011

Cold Fall Review

*Spoilers if you think you might want to read these someday. Though it is 15 years old.

Too Many Villains Too Many Girls and a James Bond who goes beyond womanizing to complete asshole sink Gardner's last James Bond Novel.

A James Bond Book/Movie can be good with a poor villain. A James Bond Book/Movie can also be good with bad Heroine though this is a much tougher problem to overcome. A James Bond book/movie can not be good with a bad James Bond. That is what ultimately makes Cold or Cold Fall one of the worst James Bond books in the series.

The Book reminded me of the Movie The World Is Not Enough. Not that the plots are in any way similar but in the fact that neither quite knew what it wanted to be. The World Is Not Enough wanted to be a deeper Bond Movie with a more complex plot and more human emotion and even more realism. Which is fine except for one problem. Denise Richards cast as a nuclear scientist named Christmas Jones. I've often wondered why of all the James Bond movies why is TWINE the one I can never get a grasp on just where to rank. It was only on the last viewing of the film that I figured out it was the split personality of the film. There is Moonraker and On Her Majesty's Secret Service and I love them both but TWINE's attempt to be both leads the film to be a sort of On Her Moonrakers Secret Service and robs the film of any intended purpose. And the same is true with Cold Fall. Though TWINE is a better movie than Cold Fall is a book.

Bond is more grown up! He's real, he's an Adult. So why does he act like a teenager with over-flowing hormones through out the book? The book starts in 1990 with the terrorist act of blowing up a plane. Bond hears an old lover Sukie Temptesta (Nobody Lives Forever) was suppose to be on the flight he is devastated by the thought of her death. However in Washington D.C. Bond meets Sukie at the motel She's alive! Bond is so happy discovers she is a true love of his life. Curses Bond has to go to a Meeting to discus the plane being blown-up and when he comes back Sukie has been blown up in her car. Bond is crushed again.

Bond is really devastated this time in Ms. Tempesta's death He has to tell himself to pull together and find out who did this for Sukie's sake. Bond is so crushed that about 5 pages after hearing how devastated he was over Sukie's death he's sleeping with another woman. Even by Fleming's James Bond standards the speed with which Bond jumps out of depression over Sukie's death and in to bed with FBI Agent Toni Nicholetti would be out of character and we were told he was the character in teen fantasy stories. This Bond is for Grownups.

Then the Book actually get's quite good until... Bond goes to investigate Sukie's step-son's (whom are older than she is) Vila. They have kidnapped M. whom by this point pretty old and pretty worthless. We meet another woman. "Fliss" Whose name is similar to Fredericka 'Flicka" Von Grusse whose Nickname was Flicka but now is Freddie but we are getting ahead of ourselves. Fliss helps Bond save M and dies for her troubles. Another woman's death to pray on Bond's mind. He'll need a Psychiatrist after this one.

Jump ahead to the second part of the book or book 2 1994.
Bond is now worried that his fiance the aforementioned Flicka Von Grusse (Never Send Flowers, SeaFire) who is a coma (from the beating she took in SeaFire) will not survive. The Doctors tell him that even if she does make a recovery she'll be wheel chair bound and will probably never walk again. Bond sweetheart of a fella he is in this novel decides he'd rather she'd die because she wouldn't want to live in a wheel chair and of course he doesn't want to take care of her. God Bond is an asshole in this book. He begins to think of ways to dump her easily. Is Bond Newt Gingrich and nobody told us?

But alas he gets taken away from the Flicka Freddie problem by a audio tape sent to him by yet another old flame Beatrice Maria De Ricci (Win, Lose or Die) and this cause Bond to think of how much he loved her and she should have been the love of his life. Um Bond Freddie Flick is still alive you know.

Bond goes off to meet Beatrice Flicka Freddie does the world a favor and dies thus leaving Bond for Beatrice whom he loves more than any woman he has ever known and wonders why he ever left her. If you're keeping track this is the third Love of Bond's life and at least the 4th woman he's slept with in what has been to this point oh about 120 pages.

At the end of the book Bond and Beatrice job well done return to his flat with Freddie Flicks ashes which they decide to keep in his bedroom because Beatrice says she is apart of their lives. No really. Anyway Sukie turns out to be alive all of the time and evil Toni is killed by the Temptesta men so Bond does manage to get 4 women killed in the book. And he even feels guilty over FreddieFlick's death as her ashes sit in the bedroom over looking Bond boinking Beatrice.

Now this is just the part about Bond in his women. And at the end of the day there are just too many women, too many deaths and Bond going from depression devastation and despair to nailing another woman in the space of 6 pages to over look anything else that might be good. And this is ultimately the tragedy of the book. When we get away from the nonsense the plot about a group of religious nuts, anti government kooks and organized crime taking over the world starting with the United States in a good one. In fact some of Cold Fall contains Gardner's best work since earlier in the series. As I said elsewhere the book is a maddening combination of very good and extreme lousy. It would even have been better if we learned about it sooner than 13 pages before the book ends. Why Gardner didn't focus on that instead of oh Sukie's dead...she's alive Bond is crushed Bond sleeps with Toni she's dead and so on.

The Villains are The Tempesta's both Sukie and her Son in laws. And Brutus Clay who does almost nothing in the book. Except get shot down twice. None of these villains is really fleshed out so they aren't memorable in the least. In fact they are a pretty stupid lot. Again more time on them and their evil plan would have made this a pretty solid book.

And about Sukie Tempesta. When first we meet her way back in 1986 in Nobody Lives Forever (Gardner's best Bond book) She is with her Body Guard Nannie Norich and as I said at the time Norich not Tempesta was the best woman so of course she was evil and gets killed. Tempesta was miss goodie goodie and lived. So now she was a psychopath all along who actually killed her husband? And about that earlier book. If Sukie is crazy surely she knows of the reward for bringing in Bond's head on a silver platter yet she makes no play on killing him as Norich does? Cold Fall actually manages to kill not just one book but two. Good job.

Finally at the end of the novel Bond meets the new M. who is a female nicely syncing book and movie Bond world together. It seems for his last Bond novel Gardner wanted to bring back as many old characters as he could for the last go around. Where was Persephone Proud? (Role Of Honour) I liked her a lot. Maybe she could have turned out to be an evil hooker! maybe just maybe Gardner made Bond such a sexist dick in this novel to again point out what he never liked about the character. Or Maybe as has been surmised Gardner just didn't give a shit anymore and wanted to move on. Either way it doesn't work. Gardner wrote some entertaining Bond novels and I am thankful for everyone of them and I am equally glad they are finally reprinting all of them. But Cold Fall or COLD is a sad way to go out. ** 1/2 *****

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