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Literature / Nobody Lives for Ever

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The fifth James Bond novel by John Gardner, published in 1986.

SPECTRE's current leader is dying, and he has placed a prize of ten million Swiss francs for Bond's head in a competition for killers. Bond, who is driving through Europe, now has to avoid people who are after him while trying to figure out how to save his colleague Moneypenny and his housekeeper May, who have been kidnapped by one of the factions.

Not to be confused with No One Lives Forever, despite both being (broadly) in the same genre.

This novel contains examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: Nannette "Nannie" Norrich, a friend of Sukie's who joins her and Bond to the drive to Rome.
  • Animal Assassin: Bond is attacked by a hybrid giant vampire bat in a hotel bathroom. Its threat comes from the possible diseases it may carry and after killing it, Bond scrubs the bathroom with antiseptics so that no trace of said diseases are left behind.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Following the confusion in the execution chamber's explosion, Bond sees Nannie reaching for a gun behind the guillotine. Just before she can reach it, Bond pulls the lever on the contraption, which cuts off her arms. Bond then pries them off from the weapon, and leaves her among the flames.
  • Big Bad: Tamil Rahani, the soon to be late leader of SPECTRE in three to four months.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Inspektor Osten, and even his men, waste time after capturing Bond by explaining the their plans instead of killing him. Justified because they were told to hold the killing by SPECTRE, and they then proceeded to kill Osten and his men in a bid to herd Bond to them safely.
  • Carnival of Killers: All manner of organizations take part in Head Hunt, each taking part on the competition with their top men.
  • Continuity Nod: Union Corse is brought up in a list of people after Bond, and it is mentioned that they have already been less than helpful since the death of his ally Marc-Ange Draco. Bond is not happy of being reminded of the circumstances of said partnership.
  • Dark Lord on Life Support: Rahani's parachute jump in the previous book damaged his spine, which gave way for him to develop cancer. Now he is dried out, bedridden man who wants his dying wish to be granted.
  • Deadly Euphemism: It is mentioned that a 'mechanic' is a term for hired killer.
  • Demanding Their Head: The prize is literally on Bond's head; the money can only be collected if his head is brought to the organizer on a silver charger. However, SPECTRE plans to remove it by themselves with a guillotine.
  • Dirty Cop: Inspektor Osten, a corrupt German policeman. He is well past retirement age, but nobody dares to enforce that fact since he has so much dirt on anyone who could make a difference.
  • Electric Torture: Dr. Kirchtum, who is forced to relay instructions to Bond through phone, tells him that he tried to refuse, but electricity was used on him to make him comply. Bond suspects that it was the kind of torture that involves one's genitals.
  • Faking the Dead: Inpektor Osten is going to retire by being "dead" after killing Bond, and there are already reports of his demise in the news.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Nannie is revealed to be an employee of Norrich Universal Bodyguards, NUB for short.
  • Gangsta Style: According to the novel, Stechkin machine pistols tend to pull upwards when fired in automatic, so Bond turns it sideways as he shoots three mooks.
  • Groin Attack: Bond hits a thug on groin with his collapsible baton, and follows it by knocking him unconscious.
  • Hidden Weapons: When a firefight breaks out in the German autobahn, Bond finds out that Nannie has a special pistol holster between her thighs. He didn't find it while frisking her because, in her words, he was too much of a gentleman.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Bond finds Inspektor Osten dead and hanging from his own hook.
  • Hooks and Crooks: Inspektor Heinrich Osten got his nickname "Der Haken" because he favours a butcher's hook as a torture weapon.
  • Hostage Situation:
    • Bond takes Sukie Tempesta hostage for his drive through Europe, since he is not sure if she's one of the killers after him, or just a woman whom he really met by coincidence. This also goes for her friend Nannie, whom he takes hostage as well.
    • One faction takes Moneypenny and Bond's housekeeper May hostage. They'll be freed on exchange for Bond.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: SPECTRE's headquarters in Key West reside in a place called Shark Island.
  • Literal Metaphor: The 10 million goes to whoever brings Bond's physical head on a silver platter.
  • The Nondescript: MI-6 prefers to hire "grey" people who can easily disappear into crowds, which makes Steve Quinn, their man in Rome, an odd case since he can be easily recognized from his height and great beard.
  • Red Herring: Bond suspects Tempesta for foul play from the first time they met, but when Nannie reveals herself to be working for SPECTRE, she tells him that Sukie isn't part of the organization, and the first meeting between her and Bond really was a coincidence.
  • Red Right Hand: Inpektor Osten is described to be an oddly proportioned person, which includes overly long arms that end in very small hands.
  • Removing the Rival: Some of the killers after Bond are killed themselves by their competitors for the prize for his head. Bond suspects that SPECTRE itself is doing it to save their money.
  • The Reveal:
    • Steve Quinn and Dr. Kirchtum work for KGB, and are behind the kidnappings of Moneypenny and May.
    • Nannie is a Love-Interest Traitor working for SPECTRE, and her job is to get Bond to their base before Rahani kicks the bucket.
  • Shameful Strip: Early in the story, Bond grows suspicious of the chance-met Sukie Tempesta (an Italian Princess) and strip-searches her to make sure she's not carrying anything dangerous. Later, a fuller evocation of this trope comes when Tempesta and the bodyguard Nanette Norrich are abducted by one of the villains who's after Bond's head. Bond finds them Bound and Gagged and stripped to their underwear.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Averted. Needing to open a locked metal door, Bond fires around its hinges instead to weaken its support.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Sound of Music is mentioned twice as Bond travels through Switzerland and Germany.
    • After finding out that SPECTRE's headquarters are somewhere in Key West, Bond tells Nannie that they're "Off to see the Wizard. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."
  • Steel Eardrums: Averted. An explosion in closed quarters has Bond's ears ringing for the rest of the day.
  • There Are No Coincidences: A string of events on the way to Rome (Bond being tailed on the road, a sight of destroyed car, him rescuing a woman from muggers, seeing a high-level mob killer in a cafe, and later finding the said killer with his throat slit) convinces Bond that something suspicious is going on.
  • Threatening Shark: Bond comes across a bull shark as he swims to Shark Island, and must race it to the shore before it gets a chance attack him.
  • Wrench Whack: One of the two thugs mugging Sukie carries a wrench, and tries to attack Bond with it.
  • You Say Tomato: It's mentioned that Bond's landlady May has a problem with the m-n pairing, referring to something as "crinimal".