1. Looking Back: Never Send Flowers

    By Devin Zydel on 2005-08-15

    In July 1993, John Gardner’s twelfth original James Bond novel, Never Send Flowers was published. This is one of the later John Gardner James Bond novels and one that is often held in more high regard than some of the others published around the same time. CBn takes a look back at Never Send Flowers with release dates, publication blurbs, trivia, and forum reactions.

    UK First Edition Hardback

    UK First Edition Hardback

    When Laura March, an officer of the British Security service, is murdered in Switzerland, James Bond is send to liaise with the local authorities. He teams up with the lovely and lively Flicka von Grosse, a member of Swiss Intelligence, and together they discover some curious information about Laura’s past.

    In turn, they become conscious of a link between the March murder and four recent, high-profile assassinations, in Rome, London, Paris, and Washington. They also discover a further connection between the assassinations and the internationally famous actor, David Dragonpol, who has retired early from a spectacular career and now lives in a castle on the Rhine, in which every room becomes a bizarre step into the past.

    But the past is dangerous, to Dragonpol, Bond and Flicka, and it leads them to a deadly game of hide and seek, following a sinister shadow across the world, from Athens to Milan, to Singapore, the United States and back to Europe for a denouement in the most unlikely setting of EuroDisney outside Paris.

    UK First Edition Hodder & Stoughton Hardback


    • Bond once again drives a Saab in Never Send Flowers, but it’s not the “Silver Beast.” This time it’s a Saab 9000 CD Turbo, which was the car Gardner owned while living in America.
    • In Gardner’s acknowledgments for Never Send Flowers he thanked Euro Disney for their co-operation in allowing him to use the wonderful Euro Disney facility as a backdrop to the final scenes in this book.
    • The US paperback of Never Send Flowers includes a teaser for John Gardner’s next original James Bond novel SeaFire, citing the upcoming villain as Sir Maxwell Lustig. However, the villain came to be known eventually as Sir Maxwell Tarn.


    I must thank Senior Vice-President and Board of Euro Disney SA for their co-operation in allowing me to use the wonderful Euro Disney facility as a backdrop to the final scenes in this book.

    Particular thanks must go to my friend Jean Marie Gerbeauz, Vice-President, Communications, Euro Disney SA, for all his help in providing information.

    For the purposes of a work of fiction, and for complete security, I have played a little with the security arrangements at Euro Disney. Only those who know will spot these alterations which are minor, for this tremendous complex reamins one of the best Disney facilities in the world.

    John Gardner, Virginia 1992

    Release Timeline

    • 1993: 1st British Hodder & Stoughton Hardback Edition
    • 1993: 1st American Putnam Hardback Edition
    • 1994: 1st American Chivers Large Print Hardback Edition
    • 1994: 1st British Coronet Paperback Edition
    • 1994: 1st British Chivers Large Print Hardback Edition
    • 1994: 1st American Berkley Paperback Edition
    • 1996: 1st British Chivers Large Print Paperback Edition

    Relationship to the film series

    • Never Send Flowers: David Dragonpol uses a walking stick gun.
    • The World Is Not Enough (1999) – Valentin Zukovsky uses a walking stick gun.

    Forum Reviews

    UK First Edition Paperback

    UK Paperback

    I read this last year and I think it’s the worst Bond novel I’ve ever read. There’s no action, no thrills, and although there’re plenty of bedroom scenes between Bond and Flicka, there’s little chemistry. The villian is absolutely useless, and the plot is bored and tired. I’m sorry, but I think this spelled the end for Gardner and paved the way for Benson.

    CBn Forum member Digitarius

    I like the way Gardner tried to have Bond on a different type of case but the book is quite uneven. As a California native, I did get a great deal of amusement from Bond at Euro-Disney.

    CBn Forum member Genrewriter

    I thought the climax in was very weak. Bond in EuroDisney?

    CBn Forum member JAWS

    Large Print Edition

    Large Print Edition

    Gardner leaps on the mid-90s serial killer craze. Really quite an odd book (although not quite as weird as The Man from Barbarossa, nor quite as bad (just) as Brokenclaw). The novels plumb a pre-Benson depth with the comment about Bond’s admiration for the Disney corporation, which is one of the oddest things I’ve read in any of the books and doesn’t seem to fit in with the 007 of (say) Diamonds are Forever and his views on American culture.

    CBn Forum member Jim

    I thought it sucked. Well, maybe I’m just easily distracted by bad dialogue. Really, really brutal dialogue. The story was fine (I guess), but I can’t get past his dialogue anymore.

    I wanted to punch myself in the face when Bond starts with that ‘child-in-all-of-us’ bit about Disney. When was he ever at Disney? I guess this is really Gardner showing his age, and he really should’ve stopped writing Bond by this point. Again, the story was ok, but there was too much that I just couldn’t stomach. Bond is too sappy (now, every girl seems to be the one) and I don’t feel like I’m reading a James Bond story until M enters a scene. Really.

    CBn Forum member Jriv71

    US First Edition Hardback

    US First Edition Hardback

    I really enjoyed Never Send Flowers. It had one of the most clever villains of the series, certainly Gardner’s most memorable, for me anyway. The EuroDisney thing bugged me when I first read it, particularly because the only news I had ever heard of EuroDisney up to the point when this novel was released was that it was failing miserably and was likely going to close. I got over it though after reading just a paragraph or two farther. And I’ve always really like this title. For me, Never Send Flowers is second in Gardner titles to only Icebreaker. It speaks of death in a clever way without using the words DIE, DEATH, or KILL.

    CBn Forum member Mister Asterix

    Easily one of the better novels from the later John Gardner era. Here we have a relatively simple plot that works. Alot of Gardner’s plots tend to have swift turns, many double-crosses and on the whole, can be quite complex. In this case, I find Never Send Flowers to be much more level and because of that, it works very well.

    I was pleased with the Bond girl in Flicka and villain in Dragonpol in this book, as some of his others can be less memorable. I think the locations and mood are evoked to a greater depth in this book compared to some of his others, again something that helps. On the whole, I highly recommend this novel to any fan of the literary 007.

    CBn Forum member Qwerty

    Yes, this was a (another) great Bond book by John Gardner. I thought this was his last really terrific book before ending his run on the series. Top notch villain, one of my favorites from the Gardner era, and an interesting girl. Though, I’m not too fond of the idea of Flicka returning in the next two books, though it did set up the terrific cliffhanger ending in SeaFire.

    CBn Forum member RossMan

    US Paperback Edition

    US Paperback Edition

    I really hated Never Send Flowers when it first came out. Another Gardner disappointment, I thought. But I recently re-read it (as I did all the Gardner books) and while I still think it’s a weak entry in the Gardner canon, I found it was not as bad as I remembered. I sensed that Gardner was going for a Bond horror story with this book. At least that’s how it starts out. There’s lots of references to Bond feeling “spooked”, and Gardner goes to great lengths to create “eerie” atmosphere with the castle, etc. Of course, it kind of goes wacky with ending the book at EuroDisney — but I do like the motif of the imaginary world that runs through the book. I don’t know, I now kind of like Never Send Flowers for what it TRIES to be. My biggest complaint is the MASSIVE amount of superfluous exposition we get about Dragonpol’s brother, etc. Very Gardner.

    CBn Forum member zencat

    The Looking Back at John Gardner Series:

    Related Articles: