THE JAMES BOND WRITING SYNDROME
1) Of course these novels purporting to imitate real life are escape fiction bearing little resemblance to spying life in terms of the gratuitous violence in which our hero will survive to the conclusion of the story and in that process have the big bad protagonist ,whom is limited to money and power (greed), extinguished in hand to hand combat by our hero with his intangible ethics intact at the end. Along the way, of course, all those other bad guys with guns whom don't seem to know what they are for are evaporated by clever hero stratagems. Nowadays Jane Bond is being touted which is accurate when one considers most modern assassins are women who are more cut-throat untroubled by moral ethics. So why read them if not for plot?
2) For the research into geographical locations, culture, human reactions, historical references and how these factors intertwine.
3) In actual fact, tradecraft has it that when you have a chance to kill the enemy, take it and do not leave any loose ends such as collateral human witnesses. But our hero, to demonstrate that he can think outside the box and on his toes, must be captured by invariably being clunked on the back of the head collecting, in a life-long process, more concussions than the entire NHL. Dementia rules their old folks homes as they always survive for the ultimate indignity but by that time we have moved on to another young hero.
4) Of course, Mr. Big has to brag about his empire to a captured Bond who is not to survive but we know otherwise as he disarms bad guy after bad guy and directs them to their final destination basically for being just plain stupid. Usually the odds are 5 to 1 against him but the idiots all wait their turn to be sent to their final oblivion. Those random bullets flying through the air never have their heroes name on them. Saving maidens in distress is all part of a days work for Bond in which he compromises tradecraft for personal prestige of 'getting it on' with the women but is never caught in that process. That titillating part sure helps to sell movies with a little or lot of bare skin which the situation does not warrant but the screen demands.
5) Our hero can drink like a fish and eat hearty meals and burn both ends of the candle at the card table and yet retain the physique of an Olympian. Superman would have a heart-attack trying to keep up with him. Bond never ever yields under torture. His antics are right up there with Cirque du Soleil and then some with a twist of whimsy and just when the reader can't take any more brutality, the scene shifts to a bucolic panorama with a sideways shift in the story.
6) Of course he is ethical, picking and choosing his assignments but knowing that if he rejects one, 008 will supplant him and get all future contracts. In short, to keep his job, he is an out and out assassin. Further, he never kills the wrong person by mistake, even in the dark.
7) The constant worry of being exposed by such as U.S. Ed Ames in 1993 whose double crossing cost many spies their lives over which our hero has no control is heavily muted in such novels. A worry wart Bond is not. Nor a coward as he hits everything head on...'conscience may make cowards of us all' but not the Bonds of this world. His respect for authority is based on offsetting any blame which may accrue to his mission (which never happens) by working for the government which gives him his Order but will deny him if he is caught...Oh, the hypocrisy! He doesn't ask the usual Spec Ops question; 'Is it worth it?'
8) Even Shakespeare had problems of clearing the stage of bodies in the end explaining why major battles took place off-stage. For modern writers who likewise lose control over the gratuitous violence; they suddenly think...'Oh what the hell, forget the plot and sell this to the special effects movie makers' as they step aside for more gratuitous mayhem...and please don't forget the sequels lining up for contracts with this winning formula. Of interest here, is why 80% of movies lose money waiting for that block-buster to even the profit picture. Why the producers don't scrap many movies in their infancy escapes this writer.
9) Most of these novels are written by trained writers with only vicarious experiences explaining why All Quiet on the Western Front is unique in that it was written by an experienced soldier. Even where experienced spies are concerned in the writing, escape fiction techniques are necessary to candy-coat the ghastly truths underlying their stories.
Respectfully submitted, armchair general, Roger Callow