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Book Review: True Believers

Posted August 27th, 2012

Kurt Anderson's True Believers

True Believers, the latest novel by Kurt Anderson, was sent to us for review by Random House. The marketing material highlights the heavy influence of Ian Fleming and James Bond on the storyline, so we feel our review must be two fold: giving details on the book in isolation, as well as it's relevance to Bond fans.

True Believers follows attorney Karen Hollander, who is looking back over her life and writing her memoirs. She remembers a time in her youth when she reenacted James Bond missions with her lifelong friends Alex and Chuck. The pair become concerned when they discover that Karen plans to tell the truth about where their adventures led them, and they try to dissuade her from publishing.

The story is set in sixties America and although it's larger than life, it is convincing and flows nicely. The way the story switches between the past and the present adds an extra dimension to the narrative. There is an element of suspense too, as very little is revealed about the events of the past until later on in the book.

Karen realises that there is more to the past than the secrets she has been hiding for so long, and the whole truth is gradually pieced together. True Believers is an enjoyable read with characters that are well developed and quite likeable. It's admirable that a male author has written so convincingly from a female perspective, just as Fleming had done with The Spy Who Loved Me. Karen is very engaging and easy to identify with. She's a high flying attorney dealing with a lot of pressure, but her interactions with her granddaughter show her maternal side.

The novel itself is an interesting read, but I wouldn't recommend that Bond fans buy it solely for the Fleming twist. The author appears to be very knowledgeable about James Bond. He makes a lot of references to the novels and films, as well as the wider cultural influence of the James Bond phenomenon. Some of the trivia presented throughout the story is quite obscure, and will be new to most casual fans. It does, however, at times feel rather like the author is just injecting James Bond facts into the story in an attempt to tap an existing market.

In conclusion, True Believers is a well written, entertaining book. However, an interested reader should look past the marketing, to the actual story. Although fans of James Bond may appreciate the author's extensive knowledge, if the baseline story doesn't interest them, then neither will the book.


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