The sixth James Bond novel by John Gardner, published in 1987.
Former operatives who took part in a mission in East Germany are being killed, and Bond is tasked to look after them. Eventually he learns that his real mission is about weeding out double-agents and capturing a powerful KGB official.
Chronologically, the last Bond novel to feature SMERSH as a major antagonist, and indeed a sort of Grand Finale for that arc.
This novel contains examples of:
- Big Bad: General Konstantin Nikolaevich Chernov, the Chief Investigating officer in a KGB department that was previously known as SMERSH.
- Code Name: Within British intelligence, Colonel Smolin is known as Basilisk and General Chernov as Blackfriar.
- Continuity Nod:
- Bond is greeted by a porter at Blades whose father he remembers working there when he had to play cards with Hugo Drax.
- Bond's late wife is brought up in narration yet again when M notes to Bond that he'll make good husband one day, realizes what he just said and quickly apologizes for his lack of tact.
- The Dragon: Mischa, General Chernov's right-hand man.
- The Dreaded: General Chernov is a feared man in intelligence world, since his machinations has led to deaths of many agents of CIA and MI-6. Not even his countrymen are safe, as thirty men from KGB and GRU have been dealt with disciplinary actions.
- Epic Flail: Three of the four "Robinsons" set after Bond in Cheung Chau island are armed with conventional weaponry, but one of them insists upon using a morning star.
- From Dress to Dressing: Heather rips pieces from her skirt to apply bandage to the cuts on Bond's hands that he received from barbed wire.
- Groin Attack:
- Bond deals with two guys tailing him and Ebbie in Hong Kong by kneeing the first one on the groin and shoving him face first against the second, breaking his nose.
- Another case of kneeing is needed when the treacherous agent among the Cream Cake operatives tries to execute him. This is then followed by breaking of an arm and ultimately the spine as well.
- Heal It with Booze: After a shootout, Bond loses consciousness due to the bite that he received from a trained attack dog. When he comes to, he is sorry to hear that vintage wine from the year 1914 was used to clean the wound.
- Honey Trap: Operation Cream Cake was about sending agents to East Germany to seduce members of military, HVA, GRU and KGB. Their actual purpose was actually about securing two defectors.
- Interservice Rivalry: Smolin mention to Bond that even without the defection business, the relations of GRU and KGB are really strained.
- The Mole:
- Bond comes to realization that M told him to bring every former member in Cream Cake back because at least one of them has been possibly been turned into the opposition's side, and this includes the would-be defectors as well. He also comes to conclusion that the reason he has no official support from his agency on the mission is so because he won't arouse any suspicions of the said individual that way.
- When he gets a moment of privacy with Bond during his interrogation, Maxim Smolin reveals to him that he knew from the start what was going on as a target for Operation Cream Cake, but played along because he was already looking a way out and became a defector in place. He then releases Bond from his restraints.
- Mythology Gag: When a subject of peoples interests come up regarding Bond's comment to Smolin of him having a cover name of a nineteenth century politician, Smolin mentions that some might even read the works of Margaret Drabble and Kingsley Amis, latter whom wrote the James Bond continuation novel Colonel Sun.
- Nothing Personal: As he has Bond on gunpoint, General Chernov tells him that he respects him, and his supposed execution is nothing personal, Chernov's job just demands his death.
- A Real Man Is a Killer: KGB uses what they call "Robinsons" in training. They are condemned and desperate men whose job is to provide kill-or-be-killed training for the KGB and Spetsnaz, and they have been led to believe that if they can win these training exercises three times, they are free to go. Bond is put against four of them by General Chernov as a form of execution.
- The Reveal: Heather is the mole among the Cream Cake operatives.
- Spiteful Spit: Ebbie spits in General Chernov's face after she and Bond are captured, and gets slapped across her face for it.
- Tongue Trauma: The murdered former honeypot operatives are found with their tongues surgically cut. It is meant as a reminder for those in the know about passing on secrets.
- Trapped by Gambling Debts: Norman Murray of Republic of Irelands Special Branch started working for the KGB to pay off his gambling debts.