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Literature / Never Send Flowers

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The thirteenth James Bond novel by John Gardner, published in 1993.

Five seemingly unrelated assassinations take place across the globe, and Bond is tasked to look into them. Investigating together with Swiss agent Flicka von Grüsse, the clues lead Bond to the castle of a retired actor David Dragonpol.

This novel contains examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: Bestowed upon the MI5 agent Carmel Chantry, whose boss is also named Gerald Grant. Later she brings up a retired actor called David Dragonpol into the thickening plot.
  • Artistic License: Gardner acknowledges in the foreword that he took some liberties in depicting the security of Disneyland in the climax.
  • Assassination Attempt: The serial killer has this as his gimmick. The climax of the book has him trying to assassinate Princess Diana at Disneyland.
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  • Bad Habits: The first assassination in the opening chapter has a killer disguised as a nun shooting a General (who is visiting the pope in Vatican) in a scooter drive-by.
  • Big Bad: David Dragonpol, who commits assassination in fits of insanity.
  • Calling Card: A rare hybrid rose is delivered into each funeral of the assassinated people, accompanied with the message "This is the way it must end. Goodbye."
  • Continuity Nod: Bond hears from Flicka that she was told by M that she can't take part in the climax, and he suggested to her to take some time off in the health clinic at Shrublands. Bond tells her that he tried it once and it almost killed him.
  • External Combustion: The second person to be killed in the first chapter is a politician whose car was rigged with a bomb, which took eight startings of the vehicle before blowing up.
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  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Dragonpol is killed with the bomb which he was going to use to kill Princess Diana and her children.
  • Malaproper: Swiss policeman Lempke, in a part of making himself appear simpler than he really is, constantly mangles English idioms.
  • Master of Disguise: Dragonpol's skill in acting has also granted him with ability to make himself unrecognizable through disguises.
  • The Reveal: David Dragonpol isn't just a retired actor, he is a Serial Killer who in fits of insanity plan and execute high-profile assassinations.
  • Serial Killer: David March, the brother of MI5 agent Laura March (who was one of the five assassinated people), was a serial killer who back in the seventies (on the "orders" from the Egyptian Goddess Isis) killed four women by decapitation and kept their heads as souvenirs.
  • Show Some Leg: Flicka distracts a henchman that has her and Bond on gunpoint by moving in such fashion which makes her skirt get caught in the railing next to them, uplifting it. As the guy is stunned by the sudden sight before him, Bond tackles him.
  • Stopped Clock: The time of Dragonpol's escape from the authorities is determined by the broken wristwatch on one of the policemen set to guard him.
  • Sword Cane: The assassin who is responsible for the deaths around the globe carries a cane that has a gun built into it.
  • Twin Switch: David Dragonpol has an identical brother Daniel, whom he switches places with when his insanity takes hold on him.
  • The Von Trope Family: Flicka von Grüsse, Bond's Swiss Intelligence ally in the investigation of the death of Laura March.