Nobody Lives For Ever

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Nobody Lives For Ever (published in American editions as Nobody Lives Forever), first published in 1986, was the fifth novel by John Gardner featuring Ian Fleming's secret agent, James Bond. Carrying the Glidrose Publications copyright, it was first published in the United Kingdom by Jonathan Cape and in the United States by Putnam.

Nobody Lives For Ever was the last novel to have its first edition cover designed in the style of Richard Chopping. Chopping had previously drawn nine Ian Fleming novels from 1956 to 1966 as well as Gardener's Licence Renewed in 1981.

Plot summary

En route to retrieve his faithful housekeeper, May, from a European health clinic where she is recovering from an illness, Bond is warned by the British Secret Service that Tamil Rahini, the current leader of S.P.E.C.T.R.E., now dying from wounds suffered due to his last encounter with Bond (as described in Role of Honour), has put a price on Bond's head. "Trust no one," Bond is warned. Soon after, May and Miss Moneypenny, who had been visiting his housekeeper are reported missing, and Bond finds himself dodging would-be assassins while searching for his friends, assisted by a young debutante and her capable, yet mysterious, female bodyguard.

The price on Bond's head is a competition orchestrated by Rahani and S.P.E.C.T.R.E. known as 'The Head Hunt', and is an open contest to anyone willing to capture, kill, or present Bond to Rahani, where he would be subsequently decapitated by guillotine. Along Bond's journey of attempting to rescue Moneypenny and May, Bond is betrayed and chased by a number of people and organizations, including his own British Secret Service ally, Steve Quinn who has defected to the KGB, corrupted police officers, and agents of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. in disguise.


  • Principessa Sukie Tempesta
    Sukie is an Italian princess whom Bond saves while driving to check up on his Scottish housekeeper, May. He later sees her again and offers to drive her home to Rome; however, these plans are cut short after Bond learns of the price on his head. She stays with Bond acting as a hostage and later refusing to leave his side in his moment of need. She is accompanied after her second meeting with Bond by her friend and bodyguard, Nannie.
  • Nannette 'Nannie' Norrich
    Is the head of an all-female bodyguard organisation, NUB, tasked to protect Sukie. The two are good friends; however, Sukie is unaware that Nannie has entered the competition as freelance and has promised Rahani of delivering Bond to him.
  • Herr Doktor Kirchtum
Doktor Kirchtum
  • Kirchtum is the doctor who was overseeing May while she was at the clinic. After Moneypenny and May were kidnapped, Kirchtum was taken captive by Steve Quinn and forced to send instructions to Bond. Bond later frees Kirchtum only to learn later that Kirchtum was actually in league with Quinn. Kirchtum is subsequently killed by either Nannie or Sukie (the identity is never given) upon attempting to rescue 007 from Kirchtum and Quinn's clutches.
  • Steve Quinn
    Quinn is the British Secret Service's man in Rome. He is sent by M to assist Bond in fleeing mainland Europe so that Bond can return to London. Unbeknownst to everyone, Quinn has defected to the KGB and currently works for SMERSH (currently called Department Eight). Quinn is assisted in capturing Bond by Doktor Kirchtum, who likewise to Kirchtum is subsequently killed by either Nannie or Sukie (the identity is never given) upon attempting to rescue 007 from Kirchtum and Quinn's clutches.
  • Tamil Rahani
    Rahani is the successor of S.P.E.C.T.R.E., previously in Role of Honour. After parachuting from an airship at the end of Role of Honour to escape capture by Bond, he landed badly and injured his spine causing an incurable disease. Throughout the book Rahani is said to only have days to live. Knowing the end is near Rahani creates a competitive contest, the 'Head Hunt', for any person or organisation willing to capture James Bond. Rahani is killed by Bond after having his bed rigged to detonate upon pushing a button that would normally allow Rahani's bed to raise up.



  • John Gardner's original title was "You Only Die Once."

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