Looking Back: No Deals, Mr. Bond
In May of 1987 John Gardner’s sixth James Bond 007 novel, No Deals, Mr. Bond, was published. Continuing on after his previous James Bond novels Licence Renewed, For Special Services, Icebreaker, Role Of Honour, and Nobody Lives Forever this sixth original 007 adventure continued on after the SPECTRE series had ended with the previous novel. CBn takes a look back at No Deals, Mr. Bond. Included are trivia notes about the book and CBn forum fan reactions.
Between the Danish island of Bornholm and the Baltic coast of East Germany a nuclear submarine of the Royal Navy surfaces under the cloak of darkness. James Bond and two marines slip quietly from the forward hatch into their powered inflatable and set off for a lonely beach where they are to collect two young women who have to get out in their socks. Planted to seduce communist agents to run for cover in the West, they have been rumbled by the other side. Bond little knows that this routine exercise is but the prelude to a nerve-racking game of bluff and double bluff, played with consummate skill by his own chief M against the East German HVA and the elite branch of the KGB, formed out of Bond’s old adversary SMERSH.
Over a plain lunch in the sober dining room in Blades, Bond learns of M’s predicament. He cannot tell the police what he knows about the series of grisly murders of young women, found with their tongues removed, which occupy the day’s headlines. Two of his undercover ‘plants’ have gone; Bond must find three others and conduct them to safety before they meet a similar fate. The first he spirits away from her Mayfair salon just as the next strike is made, taking her with him to the Irish Republic in pursuit of the second. But the urbane HVA boss, Maxim Smolin, is ahead of him this time, despite the astute ministrations of the Irish police. The KGB is soon on the scene, but nothing is at all what it seems, and Bond finds he needs all his wits to negotiate the labyrinth of double-crossing that is to lead him to a bewildering showdown in a remote corner of the Kowloon province of Hong Kong.
There, with only the trusted belt of secret weapons specially devised by Q branch, he has to fight a terrifying duel in the dark, with all the cards in the hands of his opponents. No Deals, Mr. Bond is the sixth and by far the best of John Gardner’s 007 adventures.
UK First Edition Hardback
- John Gardner’s original title was Tomorrow Always Comes.
- Gardner recalls horrific titles such as “Oh No Mr. Bond!” and “Bond Fights Back!” before they settled on No Deals, Mr. Bond.
- The US paperback was the only one of the Gardner series to have a “National Bestseller” caption listed on the spine.
- US readers received a free Casino Royale novel as a giveaway when they purchased the hardback of this sixth John Gardner 007 novel.
- The artwork on the UK edition of No Deals, Mr. Bond represented the new style of the UK covers, as the Jonathan Cape styled covers had ended with his previous book.
- 1987: 1st British Hardback Edition
- 1987: 1st American Putnam Hardback Edition
- 1987: 2nd British Hardback Edition
- 1987: 1st British Guild Bookclub Edition
- 1987: 1st British Coronet Paperback Edition
- 1988: 1st American Charter Paperback Edition
- 1988: 2nd British Guild Bookclub Edition
- 1993: Reprint British Coronet Paperback Edition
Relationship to the film series
- No Deals, Mr. Bond: M tells Bond the #1 rule is there will be “no deals” if he’s captured.
- Die Another Day (2002) – Bond tells M he understands the #1 rule is there will be “no deals” if he’s captured.
- No Deals, Mr. Bond: Bond kills love interest turned villain Heather Dare in cold blood at the end of the novel.
- The World Is Not Enough (1999) – Bond kills love interest turned villain Electra King in cold blood at the end of the film.
- No Deals, Mr. Bond: Gardner’s original title was Tomorrow Always Comes.
- Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) – Tomorrow Never Dies?
I’ve just re-read No Deals, Mr. Bond. I find it interesting. I like the car chase in Ireland and most of all the climax in Hong Kong. The gladiator-like chase is really amazing.
CBn Forum member Cesari
Despite its really bad title No Deals, Mr. Bond ranks as my favorite John Gardner novel after Icebreaker – I thought Gardner wove a really interesting and involving narrative.
CBn Forum member DLibrasnow
Luckily, it was one of my first Gardner novels. It has really great thrills. Nice plot and nice locations. The usual Gardner overdose of needless doublecrosses, though. Still it works, and rocks!
CBn Forum member Grubozaboyschikov
See Death is Forever – this is essentially the same idea. As far as this goes, traitor, hotel rooms and overloaded technical descriptions all present but it’s beginning to feel a bit mechanical; the first evidence of JG’s boredom with it all?
CBn Forum member Jim
Gardner appears in the last two, to be thankfully getting away from “the formula.” The Bond formula is great on screen, and great when done by Fleming, but Gardner was getting too, well, formulaic. You know; who’s the bad guy, follow the bad guy to his lair, bring the girl with you…there was still plenty of that, but the storyline here (and to a small degree, the last two) are beginning to remind me of LeCarre. And that’s a good thing. Blown networks, safe houses, even a paper chase, that sort of thing. I like the gradual change in Gardner.
One thing that does get annoying (as someone else pointed out on another thread) is the constant double-triple cross. I loved it in Icebreaker, because I wasn’t expecting it. But now, every single novel has it. There had to be one in No Deals, Mr. Bond, otherwise that network couldn’t have been blown, that was fine, but at the end, when Murray appears out of nowhere was just horrible.
But I did like No Deals, Mr. Bond, even if the title still has me scratching my head.
CBn Forum member Jriv71
For me, No Deals, Mr Bond is his best book. All it lacks is a slightly stronger villain, General Chernov was quite nasty, but he lacked a bit of depth to his character I thought.
CBn Forum member scaramanga
I?m not sure exactly why, but No Deals, Mr. Bond is one of my least favorite Gardner books. I remember being deeply disappointed by it when it came out in ’87 (yes, I too was getting very tired of the double and triple crosses by then) and when I did my mass re-read of the Gardner books a year or so ago, No Deals, Mr. Bond didn’t improve at all (unlike Role Of Honour and Never Send Flowers).
CBn Forum member zencat
The Looking Back at John Gardner Series:
- Licence Renewed
- For Special Services
- Role Of Honour
- Nobody Lives Forever
- No Deals, Mr. Bond
- Licence To Kill
- Win, Lose Or Die
- The Man From Barbarossa
- Death Is Forever
- Never Send Flowers