Stephen's Reviews > Doubleshot

Doubleshot by Raymond Benson
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Jan 16, 08

Read in June, 2001

Any time I pick up a new James Bond novel, I still get that little twinge of excitement I got when I first started reading Fleming's Bond novels some 30 years ago. However, the thrill just doesn't linger like it used to. Raymond Benson has proven with his previous novels that he can stir up a fairly decent plot for a Bond novel; but he also tends to be clumsy in their execution, and this is exhibited more in DOUBLESHOT than perhaps any of his others. Even after several practice rounds, Benson allows his prose to stutter and stumble along, displaying no more flair with the English language than an average college creative writing student.

Benson's worst offense (ever) is to have conceived the Taunt twins: easily the lamest, dumbest blondes ever to people the pages of a Bond novel. Their presence taints the entire novel with the stench of amateurism; on their way to a possible rendezvous with gruesome death, these supposed CIA professionals blurt out lines like "Oh, this is going to be fun!" with the abandon of high school cheerleaders on their way to a post-game party. Truly an embarrassment, these characters should never have made their way into the novel, and the editor at Glidrose/Jove ought to be flogged for allowing Benson to indulge himself with them.

The foreshadowings and "subtle" disguises for the obligatory plot twists in DOUBLESHOT are obvious, again pointing to clumsy, inexpert treatment at the author's hands. Slightly elevating the reading experience, the character of Le Gerant--the head of the formidable Union--comes across as a fascinating and strong villain, a worthy successor to Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Auric Goldfinger, and kin.

Whereas HIGH TIME TO KILL showed a lot of promise for upcoming Benson Bond thrillers, DOUBLESHOT is perhaps the weakest of all Benson's yarns, rivaling John Gardner's (frequent) dips into inanity--a disappointing path for James Bond to have taken in recent years.
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