The Union is a criminal organization with tentacles throughout the world, specializing in military espionage, theft, intimidation and murder. After one of its agents assassinates James Bond's friend, the Union becomes 007's priority target.
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On the trail of the missing micro-dot, 007 travels to Brussels and onto Nepal where he embarks on an epic mission climbing the Kangchenjunga, the World's third highest mountain, in an attempt to rescue the micro-dot from a crashed plane. Needless to say, the British Secret Service isn't the only party interested in retrieving this top military secret and Bond encounters other challenges besides that of surviving this great mountaineering expedition.
In High Time to Kill, Benson has created a 90s' criminal organisation to rival Fleming's own "Smersh" or "Spectre", with a chilling method of disposing of those who cross them. There are some strong episodes--a golf match between Bond and his old Etonian rival, Roland Marquis, and the climax of the mountaineering adventure where Benson keeps you guessing right to the end. Indeed, the appearance of Marquis provides an interesting insight into Bond's schoolboy-like competitiveness.
Although wholesome enough, Bond's romantic adventures aren't as strong here as in many of Benson or John Gardner's previous novels--his efforts are spread too thinly between Marksbury, a toothpick-sucking Belgian agent and the rather dour New Zealand mountaineer, Dr Hope Rendell. Nevertheless, High Time to Kill is a refreshing Bond novel, with the emphasis firmly on espionage and suspense rather than over-stated action and Q-Branch gizmos. --Julian BrosterEND