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Literature / Double or Die

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The third Young Bond novel, written by Charlie Higson and published in 2007.

A teacher from Eton is kidnapped. Later, a cryptic letter from him arrives, and James Bond and his schoolmates realize that it is filled with puzzles that might to lead to his whereabouts. As they investigate the clues, they come across a conspiracy which intends to sell valuable technology to a foreign power.

This novel has examples of:

  • An Arm and a Leg: Wolfgang's legs are sliced off when the towrope holding the ship Amoras cuts off and whips across the deck where he was chasing Bond with an axe.
  • Ascended Extra: Bond's school gang (paticularly Tommy and Pritpal) get much bigger roles in the action this time around.
  • The Baroness: Col. Sedova, nicknamed "Babushka", is an older Russian woman working in its secret police, who is widely feared for her ruthlessness.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Sir John Charnage works together with Colonel Irina Sedova of the Soviet secret police OGPU to get Project Nemesis shipped overseas.
  • Bookcase Passage: Charnage locks up Bond and Perry inside his study, but they quickly find a way out when they discover that there's a passage behind a false bookcase.
  • Call-Forward:
    • Charnage, in disguise as the crossword compiler, reminisces about money he won at the casino in Royales-les-Eaux, aka the Casino Royale.
    • Bond looks at the office buildings along Regent's Park, and can't imagine working anywhere that looks as boring as "Universal Exports".
  • The Casino: Bond hitches a ride in Smith brothers' car, which takes him to disused chemical factory owned by Charnage. Inside, he discovers that it houses an illegal gambling den.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: Charnage's butler Deighton and a Mook find Bond, Kelly and Fairburn aboard the Empress and think they won't put up much of a fight. They are proven wrong when they are quickly subdued by Bond and Kelly who arm themselves with chairs.
  • Chase Scene: After finding more clues from Prof. Peterson's corpse in a form of an unfinished letter and codes, Bond escapes Cambridge in his car while the Smith brothers chase him with their Daimler, and try to drive him off the road.
  • Co-Dragons: Ludwig and Wolfgang Smith, a duo of criminal brothers who are currently working for Charnage.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Bond discusses about the events in Sardinia with his classical teacher Merriot and Eton's headmaster Elliot, and agrees to keep them a secret, since one of the school's teachers where involved in shady business.
    • When Bond meets with Red Kelly, their shared adventure in Scotland gets a mention.
  • Cool Car: The Bamford & Martin Bond inherited from Uncle Max gets wrecked after its first use in a proper Car Chase. But at the end, Bond buys a Bentley - the same supercharged, Battleship-grey Bentley Blower he would drive until it was destroyed itself in Moonraker.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Charnage is in charge of several failing businesses. His late father was even worse, as he let the men working in his factories work in inhuman conditions, and used his connections in high places to keep it that way for better profit.
  • Crossword Puzzle: Prof. Fairburn leads Eton's crossword club, and integrates parts crossword-related clues into his letter.
  • Ear Ache: Wolfgang Smith checks Bond's burning car to see if he's in it, when the heat sends a spark plug flying out of it, tearing Wolfgang's right ear off.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: At the end of the car chase, Bond crashes his vehicle, and it explodes. The force of it sends him flying through the air, and when the Smith brothers arrive at the scene, they try find him in vain.
  • Evil Plan: Charnage had Fairburn kidnapped so that he'll finish Project Nemesis (the supposed first computer in the world), which he intends to take to the Soviet Union, where he is going to start over a richer man than before.
  • Explosive Overclocking: The boilers in the engine room of Amoras are overheated in order to stop it from taking Nemesis to Soviet Union. Explosions soon rock the boat, turning the setting into a Sinking Ship Scenario.
  • Eye Scream: Ludwig catches Bond aboard the Amoras and intends stab him in the eye with his Apache revolver's bayonet, but before he can go through with it, the engine room explodes.
  • Fingore: Bond throws a jar of potassium into the wheelhouse of the barge he and the Smith brothers are in, causing an explosion, which sends the boat crashing on an another barge, and four of Wolfgang's fingers are severed when they're caught between the two vessels.
  • Force Feeding: Charnage forces Bond to swallow pitcherfuls of gin while asking questions about how much he knows about his plans. Bond ends up poisoned and almost dying.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Nemesis stands for Numeric Evaluating Mathematical Engine and Serial Intelligence System.
  • Game of Chicken: Thinking that he has outrun the Smith brothers on the road, Bond soon finds them ahead, driving straight at him. He briefly despairs, before deciding to just drive forward, forcing them to drive into a ditch to avoid a head-on collision.
  • "Help! Help! Trapped in Title Factory!": Fairburn plants cryptic clues (literally: he is a cryptic crossword compiler) in the letter he is allowed to send his students. If correctly interpreted, these clues reveal that is a prisoner and where he is being held.
  • Historical Domain Character:
    • Bond meets young Alan Turing at Cambridge when he goes there to visit Professor Peterson in hopes of getting answers regarding Fairburn's disappearance. He meets him again in the epilogue, which takes place in 1945.
    • Later Bond comes across the American gangster Dutch Schultz inside Charnage's gambling den, who forces him to play roulette.
  • Ironic Nickname: Babushka, which is Russian for "grandmother", is not very grandmotherly.
  • It Will Never Catch On: When the boys talk about communism, Bond's schoolmate Tommy Chong says it is unlikely that his home country would adopt something like it.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: After Bond is force-fed a bottle of gin, Charnage has the Smith brothers try to throw him into the Thames.
  • Mix-and-Match Weapon: Ludwig Smith carries a pair of Apache revolvers on him, which are a combination of a brass knuckle, a bayonet and a short muzzled revolver.
  • Mutilation Conga: Wolgang Smith is initally described to be very normal looking man, especially next to his tall, skeletal brother Ludwig. By the end of the novel, he has lost his right ear, several of his teeth, fingers from his left hand, and lastly, his legs are sliced off.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Bond tells his schoolmate Pritpal that solving Fairburn's puzzles is "for their eyes only".
    • The plot has some elements from From Russia with Love, which also was about a decoding machine and had a female Soviet officer as a main villain.
    • The incident with the gin could be a very dark Call-Forward to Bond's drinking problem later in life - the very first time he got drunk, someone was trying to kill him via alcohol poisoning.
  • Public Secret Message: Charnage allowed Fairburn to send a letter from his captivity, and used the chance write down clues that are supposed to lead its readers to him.
  • Red Right Hand: Ludwig Smith is a gaunt looking man with a face like a skull.
  • Repetitive Name: Kelly Kelly, Red Kelly's little sister who joins Bond in his quest to save Prof. Fairburn.
  • Running Gag: Wolfgang Smith slowly but surely losing body parts every time he tangles with Bond.
  • Tears of Blood: Bond finds Prof. Peterson dead, with blood dripping from his stabbed eye like tears.
  • Teeth Flying: Fighting Wolfgang in the dark cemetery, Bond grabs a piece of marble and swings it on Wolfgang's face, knocking some of his teeth off.
  • Unfortunate Names: The Smith brothers were bullied in school for being named after foreign classical musicians.
  • You Have Failed Me: Col. Sedova decides that Charnage is no longer useful to her mission once Fairburn escapes from them, and convinces the Smith brothers to attack him, leaving her the sole Big Bad of the book.