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Cold (Cold Fall)- John Gardner 1996

Summary- This novel is separated into two books. The first one deals with the creation of COLD in 1990. Cold stands for the Children of the Last Days. This is a sort of pseudo-military group that thinks they know what is best for America. They want to end crime, but have a unique way of doing it. Anyone caught with drugs will be killed on sight, thieves have their hands cut off, etc.
   Bond gets involved in the case when an airplane crashes, with one of the passengers who supposedly died on it was Sukie Tempesta, whom Bond first met in Nobody Lives Forever when he saved her from some thugs. Bond investigates the crash and finds Sukie Tempesta alive. She wasn't on the flight. Bond discovers that Sukie is the sister in law of the Tempesta brothers, who are Italian criminals, with suspected links to COLD. Sukie appears to be killed in a car bombing, and Bond investigates them, but they put him on the trail of General Brutus Clay, who appears to be even higher in the COLD hierarchy. Bond ends up in a helicopter flight, in which he destroys the General's men, and it appears the general as well.
  The second book picks up four years later, in 1994. This is just after the events in Seafire. Flicka, whom Bond proposed to in Seafire, is in a coma after being beaten. Bond accepts the fact that Flicka will die, which she does after a little while. Bond gets a message from Beatrice Maria da Ricci, whom he first met in Win, Lose, or Die. It seems as though she is in trouble. Bond is suddenly involved in the Cold business again. Beatrice has been trying to penetrate the Tempesta brother's organization. Bond is supposed to be snuck in so he can help the Italian authorities bring in the area commanders of COLD, who are having a meeting at the Tempesta's villa to discuss the moving forward of their movement.
  Bond gets into the Tempesta villa and discovers that Sukie Tempesta and General Clay are both alive, and are going to get married. Bond is meant to give away the bride, as an irony, but this gives him time to set off his mayday signal to bring in the authorities. With their help, Beatrice's help, and the help of one of the general's men who decides the general is just a little too crazy, the area commanders of cold are stopped.
  In the aftermath, the old M retires; making room for the new female M, and Bond is left to spread Flicka's ashes.
My Grade- B+   There is definitely a feel that this is Gardner's last Bond novel. He brings back two of Bond's ladies from previous novel's, trying to wrap there stories up a little more. He puts the new M in charge, and leaves Bond without any attachments. It seems like he was trying to set up a mostly blank slate for the next writer, who ended up being Raymond Benson. This last novel doesn't have the best plot, but it has a sort of sentimental feel to it.
Best Moment- The best line of this novel is ironically not even Gardner's work. It is a borrowed line from Churchill that Bond thinks of at the very end of the book: "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." Bond says that Churchill was always good with words, and also realizes that this statement applies to his life.

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