The fact that Gardner was entrusted with fourteen Bond novels implies that somebody thought that he was worthy of taking on Fleming's mantle. What we get is a novel that, though better than the previous one, License Renewed , is neither Fleming, nor Fleming's Bond. On the plus side, the story is fun and Gardner tries his hardest to keep the identity of the new Blofeld a guessing game for the reader. Though, as it's so totally out of character for either the novel or the known history of Bond, he backs off almost immediately and never returns to any discussion of feminism while seducing his host's wife or thinking about his best friend's daughter. This is a better Bond than the previous outing, but ultimately Gardner still manages to blow the novel at the eleventh hour.
The man resorts to fan service by bringing back SPECTRE, Felix Leiter, and using the child of a pre-existing villain as its central antagonist. Determining his old enemy has returned, Bond teams up with the college-age daughter of Felix Leiter in infiltrating the compound of SPECTRE's most likely new leader. Even so it's a much-much older Bond if Felix Leiter now has a twenty-year-old daughter who wants to sleep with our anti-hero. It doesn't help Felix Leiter approves of his daughter pursuing the much-older Bond despite knowing it'd be purely for sex. The plot is very strong for the first half of the book with the hijackings well-done as well as Bond's reaction to SPECTRE rebuilding itself. Bringing back SPECTRE is good, making Blofeld's relative into the main villain is not. Cedar Leiter is a fun character but having her be a love interest as well as the sister of a close friend ages Bond too much as well as makes him a creep when he goes after her (doubly so for her father in encouraging it).
There are many plot twists and turns (some of which youll see coming), some great set-piece scenes worthy of the best Bond movies, and a large cast of vivid characters, all of which are created with verve and gusto...
When I originally read For Special Services (Ive read it a couple of times), I thought it was one of the best of Gardners continuation novels, and re-reading it today it still holds up quite well. Yes, James Bonds old adversaries, the evil organisation SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counter Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) have risen from the ashes. Coupled with Bond, she has to find out if Bismaquer is the new head of SPECTRE and calling himself Blofeld? To get to Bismaquer, Bond and Cedar pose as a married couple who have a rare set of Hogarth prints to sell. But Bismaquer has an efficient intelligence network across the USA, and soon enough, our heroic couple are tracked to a hotel in Washington.This time the thugs plan a nasty surprise for Bond and Cedar as they prepare to leave the hotel. I wont spoil what happens, but I am sure it will come as no surprise that Bond and Cedar survive the attempt on their life. As Bismaquers guests, Bond and Cedar are treated to the full extent of his hospitality, as he is still eager to buy the prints. As Bond and Cedar dig deeper into the Bismaquers world, the more tangled the plot becomes. For Special Services reads far more fluidly than Gardners preceding novel, Licence Renewed. He has returned to his own writing voice, rather than trying to imitate Fleming and Gardners strength in action passages comes to the fore. There are rather obvious odes to Flemings previous Bond stories in For Special Services, but rather try to write like Fleming, Gardner simply attempts to evoke a Flemingesque feel using his own words. Gardners description of the relationship between the Bismaquers, for me, evokes memories of the Krests (Milton and Liz) relationship in Ian Flemings The Hildebrand Rarity (which was in the For Your Eyes Only collection.
Bond and Cedar Leiter believe SPECTRE is being revived and they go about stopping the criminal organization. But Markus is actually gay and falls for Bond, coming to his rescue, the real leader of SPECTRE is Nena, who is actually the daughter of Blofeld.
Of necessity, the plot requires a great deal of Fleming-era flashback, probably more than in any later Gardner Bond, which, again, foregrounds 007 as someone with a lot of miles on the clock.
"FOR SPECIAL SERVICES" by John Gardner THE GOOD NEWS: Bond is back, better than ever! MORE GOOD NEWS: Leiter is back too....this time as in Felix Leiter's lovely ans coquettish daughter Cedar, an up-and-coming CIA operative in her own right. This was the first-ever John Gardner 007 novel I ever read, back in 1988 at the tender age of 12, and after all these years, even with the Cold War being long over and thus rendering the storyline dated, it is still rollicking entertainment, with the action, adventure, humour, and sexy women one has come to expect from a Bond story. 50: "the vast twin towers of the World Trade Center dwarfing everything else." Well, that passage right there certainly renders the novel dated! 80: "Bond asked for a very large vodka martini shaken, not stirred giving her the precise instructions." Aahh, just like ol' times, 007! I could've sworn in earlier editions of the novel, the word used was "shit" instead of "muck." CENTRAL CASTING: Roger Moore (RIP) as Bond, Wayne Newton as Mazzard, Joe Don Baker (or John Candy, RIP) as Bismaquer, Ian McDiarmid (the Emperor Palpatine actor) as Walter Luxor, Maria de Medeiros or Mirelle Mathieu (she'd have to grow her hair out, though) as Nina Bismaquer
* Gardner's second Bond book. Sex covers also for Gardner's decision to excise the romantic center of Bond that had him constantly falling in love with his damsels in distress. Gardner's Bond doesn't fall in love; rather he makes love and leaves. She's also an agent and, like every other woman in Gardner's world, she's got the hots for Bond. In fact, as far as he's concerned, Bond can treat her like every other woman he meets. This is due to the fact that Bond need do no more than pay lip service to it since every woman wants him anyway.