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I have read various of John Gardner's James Bond novels. Some were very good, though he ended off with the same old recipe. In Raymond Benson's first James Bond novel, he does what I thought could not be done anymore - he blew life into the recipe.
Staying true to Ian Flemming, he seems to take more freedom not to include all of John Gardner's changes to the Bond scene, though he keeps enough to ensure continuity.
Placed against Gardner's last novel "Cold" "Zero minus Ten" is more believable. By using the handing over of Hong Kong to China as a setting, Benson merged fact and fiction in a very entertaining and original way.
One thing that is a bit strange to me, is how smitten James Bond with the Bond girl Sunni Pei. It is important for the story-line, but I felt it was a bit overdone.
Be that as it may, Benson succeeds to "update" Bond. I enjoyed his eye for detail. There must have been quite a bit of research into making Bond believable.
With the solid narration of Simon Vance, it would be quite wrong not to give this novel 5 stars. Good story, good performance and quite original for James Bond.
The best non-Fleming Bond book bar none. Narration by gold standard Vance. Really enjoyed the story.