Cbr15bingo On the road
This is the second, and as far as I can tell, final Jane Bond/James Bond parody novel. This time, the action takes place in swinging 1966 Las Vegas at a convention for the accident prone that is actually a gathering of top spies, and at a “bake-off” competition that involves more intrigue and inventiveness than the spy gathering. James Bond is still out of commission and so Her Majesty’s Secret Service once again turns to his lesbian twin sister Jane to act as his double. Mabel Maney brings back Jane’s bumbling handler Cedric Pumpernickel, as well as her girlfriend agent Bridget St. Clare, and adds in a variety of colorful and funny characters in this enjoyable caper.
Since Jane’s last adventure, she and agent Bridget St. Clare have entered a serious relationship and Jane has joined GEORGIE (Girls In Europe Organized to Right Grievances and Insure Equality). The existence of GEORGIE is a secret, even Her Majesty’s Secret Service is unaware of its existence, and its existence is a direct response to the aggressive and violent actions of the Secret Service. Jane’s work filling in as a substitute for her brother James is also a top secret matter; within the secret service, only director N. and “retired” agent Cedric Pumpernickel know that James Bond is unwell and his twin sister Jane has stepped in for him. Initially, Jane’s role was to stand in at purely ceremonial affairs so that Britain’s enemies would never realize that its top agent, 007, was out of commission. But now, a trickier mission has arisen and Jane will be involved as both 0071/2 and as an agent of GEORGIE. At the annual spy convention, to be held in Las Vegas under cover of a convention for the accident prone, some sort of secret invention is going to be unveiled. For Queen and country, Jane Bond’s mission is to work with Cedric to get that invention. Of course, since GEORGIE knows all about this (because GEORGIE is a much better organized and effective agency than the Secret Service), agents Bridget St Clare and Bibi Gallini will also be going to Vegas. Their boss has given them strict rules to let Jane handle the mission and only step in if Jane requests help, but from the get go, things go pear-shaped in hilarious fashion.
Brits on the road in rat pack era Vegas is a pretty great premise to begin with. Cedric and Jane end up staying in a cheap “teepee” motel on the outskirts of town, which is where they meet Wanda. She and her husband run both the motel and the diner next door, and Wanda (70-ish) is a font of information and help for Jane. Sandy and Betty, two other 70-ish ex-showgirls, end up being of vital help to Jane when she is framed for the murder of American agent Dougie Smathers. Wanda, Sandy and Betty are my favorite characters here, as they regale Jane with tales of mobsters and old Vegas while stuffing their empty bowling bags with food from all-you-can-eat buffets. Cedric meanwhile is convinced that Dougie Smathers’ dorky assistant Felix is “the inventor,” and begins to get close in order to get the invention and perhaps spark a romance. Meanwhile, Bibi and Bridget are meant to be part of a floor show at the bake off in order to be in the same building as Jane and render assistance as needed. Unfortunately, they end up getting fired and have to find a way to instead enter the bake-off as contestants. The bake off scenes are a lot of fun, as we meet middle aged women whose competitive instincts and “creativity” in the kitchen make them more impressive and imposing than the spies meeting down the hall.
This novel is full of crossed signals, secret identities and worries about current and former lovers. A trip to the Hoover Dam and a 500 pound cheese wheel meant for fondue add plenty of ridiculous fun to this over the top story. Mabel Maney brings Vegas to life in a very amusing Austin Powers way, and proves once again that Jane Bond is much more interesting and entertaining than 007. The secret “invention”, by the way, is hilarious.