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Literature / High Time to Kill

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The fourth James Bond novel by Raymond Benson, published in 1999.

Rising criminal organization calling itself the Union is making itself known by committing assassinations and espionage. After they manage to steal an important formula from the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, Bond is put against them to retrieve the thing.

This novel has examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: Lawrence Littleby, who is a minor member of The Union.
  • Back for the Dead: The (unnamed) former governor of Bahamas, whom Bond met in the short story "Quantum of Solace", appears long enough to become an another victim for The Union.
  • Big Bad: Roland Marquis's actions make him the direct antagonist for Bond to face, while The Union's leader Le Gérant (French for the "The Manager") is the Bigger Bad working behind the scenes.
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  • Blackmail: Those whom The Union doesn't recruit are blackmailed to work for them.
  • Camping a Crapper: Bond surprises and tries to knock out a mook in a bathroom, but underestimates the guy and ends up in a brawl with him.
  • Climbing the Cliffs of Insanity: The hijacked plane carrying the Skin 17 formula crashes into Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. Since Bond has experience in climbing mountains, he is sent to retrieve Skin 17 with an expert in mountaineering as the expedition leader; his rival Roland Marquis.
  • Continuity Nod
    • Bond's former personal assistant Mary Goodnight and the "Scaramanga case" are mentioned.
    • Bond's intimate moment with Helena Marksbury in the rain, which occurred in the last book, is held as the start of their relationship. Another allusion to the novel is made with a reference to "the Decada affair".
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  • Disney Villain Death: Paul Baack tries to make Bond and Dr. Kendall jump off from a cliff, but after a brief struggle, ends up going over it himself.
  • Downer Ending: Bond's mission of retrieving the Skin 17 is succesful, but he is unable to save Helena Marksbury, who is killed by the Union as she is not useful to them anymore.
  • Evil Counterpart: Roland Marquis, Bond's Rival Turned Evil. Both men are highly skilled professionals in their respective organizations and a have a history womanizing, but Bond is loyal to his government while Marquis had no problem selling out and become its enemy instead.
  • Eye Scream:
    • While being chased by motorcycles on road, Bond permanently blinds one of the pursuers with a laser flash from his car, which burns the guy's retinas.
    • Retinal hemorrhage is one of the many symptons that exhausted Marquis suffers from when desperately climbs up to the summit of Kangchenjunga.
  • The Faceless: While Le Gérant is described to blond caucasian, no clear description is given about his face since he sits in the shadows in his sole appearance.
  • First-Name Basis: When Bond goes to meet Gurung, the Gurkha who is supposed to come with him to the expedition to Kangchenjunga, he is told that plenty other Gurkhas use that name, as they adopt their tribe's name as their surname, and they are referred to by their first names instead. The rest of the novel then refers to said Gurkha as Chandra.
  • The Group: The Union. It is a large union of various criminals after all.
  • Improvised Weapon: Bond has to relay on a glass-shard, a deodarant can, a chair, toiletries, a lamp, a broken bottle and a television set for help as he fights the brutish Union mook Basil in a hotel suite.
  • Kukris Are Kool: As a Gurkha, Chandra carries a kukri, and is eager to use it, as he is yet to kill someone with it despite all of his experience in combat. He eventually gets his wish granted when he decapitates Marquis' partner Glass.
  • MacGuffin: Skin 17, a formula for a plane-coating material which allow them achieve the speed of Mach 7. It is later hid inside a golden pacemaker, which then becomes the MacGuffin.
  • The Mafiya: One of the rival expeditions in Kangchenjunga is made of members of the Russian mafia, who seek the Skin 17 formula for profit.
  • The Mole:
    • Someone in the SIS feeds information to the Union about Bond's movements. It's Helena Marksbury, who has been forced to work for them so that they won't hurt her sister.
    • The expedition to Kangchenjunga also a has a traitor among its ranks, whole four of them.
  • Nebulous Evil Organization: The Union started out as a mercenary outfit, but later upgraded into espionage and terrorism for hire.
  • Office Romance: One has developed between Bond and his personal assistant Helena Marksbury, much to their concern.
  • Red China: Chinese communists hired the Union to deliver them the Skin 17 formula. When the thing ends up in Kangchenjunga, they sent out their own expedition to retrieve it.
  • Red Herring: Since Marquis has workerd for the Union before, reader is led to believe that he is their mole in the expedition, and Bond's suspicions about Schrenk are misplaced. However, it is revealed that Schrenk really is working for the Union, and Marquis, while a traitor as well, is actually working just for himself.
  • Red Right Hand: Le Gérant is blind, and wears thick sunglasses because of it.
  • Remember the New Guy?: The book introduces us to Roland Marquis, a Royal Airforce group captain who has been Bond's rival ever since their studies together in Eton.
  • Slashed Throat: The Union's Calling Card is leaving its victims with deeply cut throats, even when they are killed with other means.
  • Spanner in the Works: The Union's plan could have succeeded if Marquis hadn't compromised one of their operatives, and tried to steal the Skin 17 for himself.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: Bond and Chandra sabotage the Chinese mountaineering expedition by contaminating their food with piss, and setting the sacks containing them on fire.
  • Title Drop: Planning to have Bond and Dr. Kendall killed by forcing them to jump over the edge of a cliff (since it's "much more fun"), Baack tells Bond that "It's high time to kill, James. You first."


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