Zero Minus Ten, published in 1997, was the first James Bond novel by Raymond Benson. The book was first published in Britain by Hodder & Stoughton and in America by Putnam. It is set mostly in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China.
Benson's approach to the character was more in keeping with the film version of 007 than the literary version of Fleming. Continuity with the Gardner books was also, for the most part, not maintained. For example, Gardner had promoted Bond to the rank of captain in the Royal Navy in previous books, but Benson demoted him back to Commander. Benson later stated in interviews that, as far as character continuity was concerned, he had been given free lease by his publishers to follow or ignore other continuation authors as he saw fit.
As the transfer of the sovereignty of Hong Kong from the British to the People's Republic of China nears, Bond is given ten days to investigate a series of terrorist attacks taking place that could disrupt the fragile handover and cause the breakout of a large-scale war. Simultaneously a nuclear bomb is test detonated in the Australian outback. In Hong Kong, Bond suspects and is led to a wealthy British shipping magnate, Guy Thackeray, who he catches cheating at mahjong at a casino in Macau. Later, after cheating the cheater and winning a large sum of Thackeray's money, Bond attends a press conference where Thackeray announces that he is selling his company, EurAsia Enterprises to the Chinese, secretly due to a long-forgotten legal document that grants the descendants of Li Wei Tam ownership of the company if the British were to ever lose control of Hong Kong. Because the descendants were claimed to have abandoned China, General Wong of the People's Republic of China claims the document on behalf of the government and forces Thackeray out. Immediately following the announcement Thackeray is killed in a car bomb by an unknown assassin after numerous previous attempts that claimed the lives of the entire board of directors at EurAsia Enterprises as well as several employees.
Through his Hong Kong contact, T.Y. Woo, Bond also investigates Li Xu Nan, the Triad head of the Dragon Wing society and the rightful descendant of Li Wei Tam. Li's identity as the Triad head is supposed to be a secret, though after Bond involves a hostess, Sunni Pei, 007 is forced to protect her from numerous Triads for breaking an oath of secrecy. When she is finally captured, Bond makes a deal, off the record, to go to Guangzhou and retrieve the long-forgotten document from General Wong that will give Li Xu Nan ownership of EurAsia Enterprises upon the exchange at midnight on July 1, 1997. Through Li's contacts, Bond successfully travels and meets General Wong in Guangzhou under the guise of a solicitor from England. Bond's cover is later blown and T.Y. Woo who followed Bond is executed. Bond avenges his friend's death by killing General Wong and stealing the document, which he hand delivers to Li Xu Nan and retrieves Sunni Pei.
With Li Xu Nan in Bond's debt, Bond uses Li's contacts to go to Australia to investigate EurAsia Enterprises and find a link between it and the nuclear blast. As it turns out Thackeray is very much alive and has been mining unreported uranium in Australia to make his own nuclear bomb, which he plans to detonate in Hong Kong at the moment the handover takes place in retaliation for his loss of his family's legacy. Returning to Hong Kong, Bond, Li Xu Nan, and a Captain with the Royal Navy track down Thackeray's nuclear bomb and defuse it. The battle claims the lives of Li Xu Nan as well as Thackeray's, who is drowned by Bond in the harbour.
Locations where the book takes place include:
Benson's working title for the novel was No Tears for Hong Kong; this was eventually used as the title for the last chapter in the book.
|The James Bond novels|
|Ian Fleming (1953-1966)|
Casino Royale -- Live and Let Die -- Moonraker -- Diamonds Are Forever -- From Russia with Love -- Dr. No -- Goldfinger -- For Your Eyes Only -- Thunderball -- The Spy Who Loved Me -- On Her Majesty's Secret Service -- You Only Live Twice -- The Man with the Golden Gun -- Octopussy and The Living Daylights
Kingsley Amis (1968)
John Gardner (1981-1996)
Sebastian Faulks (2008)
Jeffery Deaver (2011)
William Boyd (2013)
Anthony Horowitz (2015)