Raymond Benson

Reviews

Read reviews of:
The Black Stiletto
Fiction
James Bond
Tie-Ins
Computer Games

The Black Stiletto

“If the Black Stiletto series is under your radar, there’s something wrong with your radar. This is a five-book sequence of the highest quality, full of thrills and suspense, and fun and humanity too.”
—Lee Child, New York Times Best-Selling Author

“I love the Black Stiletto, the characters, the settings, the turn-the-pages-faster stories. If someone made a Black Stiletto movie, and they should, I’d paid full price to see it. If someone made a Black Stiletto television series, and they should, I would watch it every week. If someone published a Black Stiletto comic book, and they should, I would want to write it because Judy Cooper Talbot is a character a comic-book writer could easily fall in love with.”
—Tony Isabella, Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing

The Black Stiletto:

“The appeal in this series-opener lies in the transformation of Judy Cooper into ‘an international icon of feminist strength and power’ who assumes near-mythic proportions. Prolific crime-fiction writer Benson captures the style of a young woman’s diary and moves with ease between time periods in this comic book–like novel of nonstop action. Prime escapism.”
Booklist, Starred Review

“…a mashup of the work of Gloria Steinem, Ian Fleming, and Mario Puzo, all under the editorship of Stan Lee.”
Library Journal

“…an absolute joy to read… This could be Benson’s best work to date and we can’t wait for more!”
—Buzz Bin, CrimeSpree Magazine

“Benson has created one of the most original heroines I’ve read in a long time. Adventure and suspense made this book a rollicking good read. But the story is about much more than simply the evolution and escapades of The Black Stiletto. It’s about relationships and just how well we know—or not—even the people we love most.”
—Sandra Brown, author of Lethal

“A thriller that brilliantly succeeds at that most difficult of authorial endeavors: blending the past and the present into a single compelling story. Filled with cutting-edge suspense, wry humor and heart-wrenching warmth, not to mention great period detail, Black Stiletto will grab you instantly and simply not let go until the final page—no, make that the final sentence.”
—Jeffery Deaver, author of Carte Blanche

“Irresistible: Suppose you found out—just too late—that your mother had been a superhero crimefighter. What would you do? Sit back, take a deep breath, and let Raymond Benson tell you.”
—Lee Child, New York Times Best-Selling Author

“A terrifically fun thrill-ride featuring an intrepid heroine you won’t soon forget. I tore through it in one sitting!”
—Tess Gerritsen, New York Times-best-selling author of The Silent Girl

“It’s action! It’s adventure! It appeals to women—and to men! It’s faster than a speeding bullet, and a truly terrific read. Don’t miss it!”
—Heather Graham, author of Phantom Evil

“One of my favorites… we follow Judy ‘Black Stiletto’ Talbot’s adventures with a mixture of delight and awe. Benson isn’t just a talented writer, he’s an experienced one, too. The author of several James Bond 007 books knows a thing or two about making extraordinary heroes come alive… Benson has packed her exploits with so much heart that we want them to be true.”
—Betty Webb, Mystery Scene Magazine

“I admired the hell out of her… I completely enjoyed every minute of this fast-paced novel… WooHoo! A new series to look forward to!”
—MK, PopcornReads.com

“The Black Stiletto is a mesmerizing tale. The fact that it’s actually told from several different points of view—and that it goes back and forth between present and past—is an interesting (as well as effective) way to relay the story… Seeing how such an iconic (in the framework of the story) character comes into existence is absolutely fascinating, and reading the words of a teenager is an unexpected (but oh-so-appropriate) choice—certainly much more affecting than if the tale were written as the memoirs of an old woman. The writing in the journals consistently sounds like that of a young (and, early on, innocent and naive) girl, a tone which lends her tale–that of the creation of an alter ego more Catwoman than Wonder Woman—a genuine poignancy. From the early tragedies and hard times that shaped the determined young woman and tough avenger she would become, to her invincible good cheer and can-do attitude, you can’t help but root for Judy, and like her… Another element worthy of mention is the setting—notably that of 1950s New York. It just feels like author Benson must have surely gotten the details right, with the flavors, sights, and sounds of the city, as well as the overall look and tone of the era, and it was fun immersing myself in a time so foreign… The Black Stiletto is a cool blend of smooth mystery-suspense with some dark comic-book spice, and I enjoyed every bit of it.”
—Glam Kitty, The Literate Kitty

“Raymond Benson weaves an intriguing tale of the early life of a superhero. The Black Stiletto-aka Judy Cooper-is a very relatable character. Her innate humanness, despite her special abilities, is just one of the many likable qualities of Benson’s leading lady. Judy is a superhero that is real, she suffers the bumps, bruises and black eyes that any normal person would get in a fight. There are no miracle cures for the Black Stiletto. Benson also very skilfully utilizes various points of view. He switches back and forth between first person and third person, but manages to do so effectively and in a clear-cut manner. The story is aided by Benson’s talent as a writer of James Bond adventures as well. I believe that helps him weave the mystery and suspense throughout the story very well. The Black Stiletto never disappoints, it keeps the action moving and the story flowing… I recommend this book to anyone who likes mystery or suspense books. If you are looking for a great escape read, this is the book for you.”
Mom Reads My Books Blog

“Benson is a master of description and pacing, so every page is both believable and tightly sketched. While this novel is self-contained, Benson leaves open a number of questions and threads so that at least one sequel is inevitable. Visitors to his website can enjoy a free e-book Black Stiletto adventure and see a clever promotional video to whet your appetite. A fast read, you don’t have to be a feminist to enjoy this fresh approach to super-heroes.”
—Dr. Wesley Britton, Bookpleasures.com

The Black Stiletto is a wonderfully stylish (and addictively page-turning) return to the days of yesteryear. Full of action, full of suspense, and brimming with originality, this sleek and charming adventure will win your heart.”
—Hank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity-winning author

“Judy is a fantastic character, and Benson absolutely nails the way women write in their diaries. I think this sort of strong woman (particularly one in a time period where we don’t think of women having much independence) will be enormously appealing to female readers. The action is great, and Benson writes in a voice that’s accessible and engaging.”
—Tasha Alexander, author of Dangerous to Know

The Black Stiletto: Black & White:

“This second installment in the Black Stiletto series is just damn fun, effectively mixing the story of young, fearless Judy and the poignant struggle of Martin to protect his mother from an onslaught of publicity that she won’t understand. Sheer entertainment.”
—Wes Lukowsky, Booklist

Black and White is actually a better read than its predecessor. The pace is higher and Judy has grown wiser and more daring as she grows into her new alias… The plot weaves cleverly back and forth… The characters are all beautifully constructed with the lead of Judy shining out like a beacon… The Black Stiletto: Black and White is a rollercoasting romp which entertains, exhilarates and educates.”
—Graham Smith, Crimesquad.com

“It’s hard to say which is the more fear-provoking thrill in Raymond Benson’s latest book, The Black Stiletto: Black and White. You’ll have to choose between the fact that his masked heroine is about to be betrayed by her own heart and discovered, or the authentic ride the reader is taken through in her old-age… No thriller or murder mystery is as terrifying as the disease of dementia, and Benson weaves cold hard fiction with cold hard fact by forcing the reader to suffer the cold slap of wind in the face while riding, hands up and screaming, in the front seat of the Alzheimer’s roller coaster… There’s a literary justice in being able to split a book into different personalities to throw the reader off kilter. There’s a sumptuous voyeurism in being able to read the diary of a masked crime fighter… Paul Laurence Dunbar wrote, ‘We wear the mask that grins and lies, it hides our cheeks and shades our eyes’. Raymond Benson goes behind that mask and shows us what’s truly beneath it… The thing that makes this book so different is the way it’s served up to the reader. There are three courses placed on the table at the same time. Each chapter allows the reader to choose a flavor from a different plate. ‘The Stiletto’ or Judy Talbot’s story is told in diary form and takes the reader through a year in her life in the fifties at the height of her adventures as a masked crusader. Another dish is from Judy’s son, Martin, in real time, who’s dealing with the insanity of a mother with an insane disease. If his mother had rambled on about a life as a masked crime-fighter he would have thought her mad, even demented. And that’s the twist. You’d have to be demented to think your mother was the infamous Black Stiletto putting the bad guy in his place, fighting for truth, justice and the American way. Except when Martin finds her diaries and takes possession of a long hidden canister of film, the insanity becomes real. And so in present day the reader dishes on Martin’s own struggles with what he’s found out; being the ordinary son of a most extraordinary woman and his own need to step out of the shadows of his fading mother to save his own family. The third dish on the table is that of FBI agent, John Richardson, who’s been sworn to track down the Black Stiletto (Judy Talbot), arrest her and bring her to justice. Only here’s the catch. The Stiletto has fallen for the gumshoe. Has he fallen for her or is he just a man with a job who has no soul?… A trio of stories told from three points of view converge and intersect for a mind boggling siege upon the reader.”
—Paula Tutman, The Big Thrill

“The first book was full of the depth needed to get into Judy Talbot’s motives and development; the second book is clearly a part two of an ongoing series. Both novels so far are richly detailed, well-researched, and surprisingly believable. In particular, the Black Stiletto is completely human and takes on human gangsters and street thugs, not super-powered adversaries. In addition, Benson is very good at giving his narrators distinct voices which gives the books almost the feel of an oral history.”
—Wesley Britton, BlogCritics.org

“What a great book! It was a book that kept you wanting to read just a little more and you just couldn’t put it down until you finished…”
—Julie Moderson, Bestsellersworld.com

The Black Stiletto: Stars & Stripes:

Winner of the “Lovey” (Readers’ Choice Award) for Best Suspense Novel of 2013 from the Love is Murder Conference for authors and readers of mysteries, thrillers, horror and romance fiction!

“…an impressive effort at an inherently difficult subject.”
Thinking About Books

“In the third entry in this series, real-life concerns contrast with the comic book–like escapism of the Black Stiletto’s adventures of 50-plus years past, all likely to heighten anticipation for the next two series entries, promised for 2014.”
Booklist

The Black Stiletto: Stars & Stripes is Book #3 in this historical series by Raymond Benson, and mid-20th century supergal Judy Cooper just keeps getting better.”
Popcorn Reads.com

“Benson’s knack for toggling back and forth in time gives readers two engaging storylines to pursue. The Black Stiletto isn’t Wonder Woman, but her moxie is sure to be a hit with the Comic-Con crowd.”
Library Journal

“I love Black Stiletto books. Raymond Benson makes them so enjoyable to read and so believable that I just looked it up again to see if the Black Stiletto was real.”
—Julie Moderson, Bestsellersworld.com and Mysteriesgalore.com

“Top notch espionage and action, family drama and a superhero! Benson does a great job of switching time periods and the center of action. This is FUN stuff.”
—Buzz Bin, Crimespree Magazine

The Black Stiletto: Secrets & Lies

Winner of the “Lovey” (Readers’ Choice Award) for Best Suspense Novel of 2014 from the Love is Murder Conference for authors and readers of mysteries, thrillers, horror and romance fiction!

“…Benson’s appealing fourth novel featuring the masked vigilante… Reminiscent of heroes from the Golden Age of comics like the Black Canary and Lady Luck, thrill-seeking Judy makes an endearing protagonist.”
Publishers Weekly 

“Benson moves effortlessly from 1961 to the present and back, and gives readers a cultural look at life during the ’60s. His cast of characters is outstanding, including the supporting cast.”
—Sharon Magee, Mystery Scene Magazine 

“The fourth in a series, The Black Stiletto: Secrets & Lies, provides the reader who enjoys mysteries and can’t get enough of a specific character a chance to bond with a brave and mysterious woman. Readers won’t be disappointed by this latest addition to the series.”
—Kathy Habel, The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, VA

“This is all great fun… The historical side of 1961 is pleasingly detailed…”
Sacramento/San Francisco Book Review 

“…this is very much a series to savour”
Thinking About Books

The Black Stiletto: Endings & Beginnings:

Winner of “Best Book Serial of 2014” from Authors on the Air Global Network!

“Benson wraps up this five-book series in grand style with a satisfying climax, but as the title and final pages suggest, this may not be the end of the Black Stiletto. Escapist entertainment tinged with melancholy.”
Booklist

“Old grudges and fresh starts set the tone in Benson’s engaging fifth and final Black Stiletto novel…Multiple points of view help enliven this daring woman’s tale, leaving readers wishing for more.”
Publishers Weekly

“Along with pulsating drama, high intrigue, and suspense, I was taken with how well Benson captures the female voice and the historical period it was written. Definitely worth putting the five-book series on your bookcase.”
—Mark P. Sadler, Suspense Magazine

Endings & Beginnings gets off to a gentle start but then shifts gears and roars across the pages with enough action to satisfy any fan of the Black Stiletto series.”
—Bookloons.com

“The most thrilling story yet in this brilliant saga…”
—Tanzey Cutter, Fresh Fiction

 

Fiction

The Secrets on Chicory Lane:

“In a bold move away from the thrillers for which he’s best known, Raymond Benson offers readers a heartfelt and tragic tale. Across decades, the dark secrets on Chicory Lane shape and misshape the lives of all who live there. Benson, a master of suspense, has crafted a story as compelling as any thriller but with a depth of feeling few thrillers achieve. And the ending, I guarantee, will leave you breathless.”
—William Kent Krueger, Edgar Award Winning Author of Ordinary Grace

“The Secrets on Chicory Lane has a premise to envy: A killer and the girl next door meet one last time before execution day. How much do we know the people we have spent our lives with? Raymond Benson explores the nature of evil and how little chance we have to recognize it when we see it, or escape it, if we do.”
—Lori Rader-Day, Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning author of The Day I Died

“Where a novel lands on a bookstore shelf is defined by label: mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, literary. Raymond Benson’s The Secrets on Chicory Lane is all of those things, and a little more. Where would I shelve it? What label would I give it? A DAMN FINE BOOK. I was impressed from the beginning. Benson sculpts perfect sentences and scenes, memories and emotions dripping off the pages. I found parts of myself inside it. Benson writes: ‘I hate it. Actually, no, let me rephrase that. I hate starting a new book. I love everything else about the writing process…’ Aging author with caffeine and a keyboard…yeah, I found parts of me in the book. And then in the ensuing pages I found snatches of my childhood, awkward bits from long years ago. The abduction and malevolence and the like…that wasn’t in my childhood. But all of it came across so very real, like I had come home. Limite, Texas, Benson made me feel the place. Shelby Truman and Evil Eddie, Crazy Eddie, Unfortunate Eddie Newcott. Benson made me know them. Yeah, a DAMN FINE BOOK.”
—USA Today Bestselling author Jean Rabe

“THE SECRETS ON CHICORY LANE is a beautifully written thriller, filled with richly drawn characters, memorable dialogue, and a searing portrayal of a life-long friendship. Raymond Benson is a talented storyteller, and this is one of his best novels yet.”
—Alafair Burke, NYT bestselling author of THE EX.

“…a wonderfully written and heartbreaking account of the bond between Eddie and Shelby. It is as good a coming-of-age novel as I have read for many a year, but Benson’s skill as a storyteller doesn’t stop there. He delivers the poignancy and unbearable sensitivity of first love and sexual awakening. His account of how children escape from the shackles slapped on by their parents is masterly. Sometimes these shackles are forged from too much love, while with other children, the shackles are tempered in the fires of cruelty and hatred. There is also a very clever murder mystery, which isn’t resolved until the last few pages, and then the resolution brings only heartbreak. I am never entirely sure what a ‘literary novel’ is, but if it consists of elegant writing, a fine ear for dialogue and a gimlet eye for the painful inconsistencies of human behaviour, then The Secrets On Chicory Lane ticks that box too.”
—David Prestidge, FullyBooked2017

“Pitch-perfect characters drew me in, unrelenting suspense left me breathless by the end. Raymond Benson is a master storyteller.”
—Molly MacRae, award-winning author of the Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries

“Like me, you probably know Raymond Benson from his officially sanctioned James Bond spy thrillers or his own Black Stiletto thrillers, so you might assume I’m going to say that I read his newest book in a single day because it was a classic page-turner, with pulse-pounding action propelling the reader forward. But, The Secrets on Chicory Lane is more of a literary mystery with a touch of horror than a thriller. I read it in a single day because it has intriguing characters, reflective realism with a touch of melancholy, and, most importantly, a smoothly flowing conversational narrative that sweeps you along for a journey through darkness and despair framed by nostalgia and love. Recommended.”
—Donald J. Bingle, author of Frame Shop and Forced Conversion

“…readers will keep turning the pages”
—Publishers Weekly

“…the characters stayed on my mind long after I’d put the book down. Shelby’s first person narration is what makes the book. Her relationship to Eddie and how she struggles to reconcile their past and present are depicted in a way that feels honest and thoroughly gripping. Furthermore, her relationship to Limite, Texas and its townspeople feels authentic, like it’s the sort of place you swear you’ve passed through. In all, it’s a well-paced, thought-provoking thriller.”
—Katie MacDougall, kmacdougall.com

“Holy wow, I loved this book… I enjoyed the way the story was told – through Shelby as she sifted through her memories to try to make sense of her life and Eddie’s life, and how there is quite a twist at the end, that you would never expect, because you don’t even think there will be a twist at all. The story is haunting and fascinating and tells a tale of mental illness and just how our experiences can shape us.”
—Britt Hanson, My Little Sunshines

Sweetie’s Diamonds:

Winner of the “Lovey” (Readers’ Choice Award) for Best Thriller of 2006 from the Love is Murder Conference for authors and readers of mysteries, thrillers, horror and romance fiction!

“Raymond Benson… has produced an original thriller whose results are as exciting as any of 007’s adventures… Sweetie’s Diamonds is a gem.”
—David J. Montgomery, Chicago Sun-Times

“Benson, best known for his popular James Bond novels, proves here that he is equally adept at more realistic thrillers. This ever-more-intricate story (which involves a two-decade-old murder and several buried secrets) may remind some readers of the novels of James Grippando, who tends to structure his high-octane thrillers on families with closets full of secrets… Benson layers enough twists and turns to keep mother and son, not to mention the reader, searching desperately for the truth.”
—David Pitt, Booklist 

Sweetie’s Diamonds contains about everything that a suspense novel could or should contain. Bodies, past and present, are strewn over the landscape; hair’s-breath escapes are the rule; and a first-class car chase roars through crowded Los Angeles streets. Best of all are the twists, turns and convolutions which Benson scatters throughout the narrative.”
—John A. Broussard, I Love a Mystery Newsletter 

“Benson’s existing fans will be happy to see that he is as good at Hitchcockian-style thrillers as he is at international intrigue.”
—Neal Alhadeff, The Strand Magazine 

“…plays out like a Hitchcock film; long buried secrets, icy blondes, startling twists, cold-blooded killers, steamy sex, stolen jewels, and a mind-blowing finale. Benson has raised the bar in the thriller genre. These Diamonds are priceless.”
—J.A. Konrath, author of Bloody Mary

A Hard Day’s Death:

“A frantic dash through the world of rock and roll. Thrills a-plenty and backstage passes to the magical mystery musical twilight zone.”
—Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull

“Former James Bond novelist Raymond Benson hits his stride with the release of the first book in his new Rock ‘n’ Roll Detective series… Don’t miss this paperback original. Get in on the ground floor of this exciting new series. A Hard Day’s Death is highly recommended.”
—Neal Alhadeff, The Strand Magazine

“…mystery fans who are also aficionados of classic rock will find the story line as evocative as it is entertaining. Benson’s savvy use of musical icons (including David Bowie and John Lennon) as peripheral characters, as well as his use of songs and performers as chapter subtitles, make this an appealing read. With a core cast of realistic, well-developed and endearing characters, this budding series has a good shot at attracting and keeping a devoted reading audience.”
—Paul Goat Allen, Chicago Tribune

“A sizzling story full of classic twists, humor, and a dead-on look at the music business. A Hard Day’s Death is number one with a bullet.”
—Jeffery Deaver, author of The Sleeping Doll

“Raymond Benson scores big with A Hard Day’s Death, a rock and roll thriller that will make you feel like a real insider. Peter Flame is an aging star, once huge now on the downside of his career. After a mediocre performance he is found dead, at first an apparent suicide, but soon ruled a homicide. Spike Berenger and his Rockin’ Security are determined to find out what happened, but with a list of suspects that read like liner notes to a prog rock album they have their work cut out for them. Benson has thoroughly nailed this book, it’s fast and entertaining as hell and is every bit as perfect as a Carlos Santana guitar solo on a summer afternoon.”
Crimespree Magazine Buzz Box Reviews

“It is a fast paced novel full of rock tunes that will amuse and keep the interest intact of all rock lovers. The innovative part is that the chapters of the story are song titles. The author addresses religion and cult issues that are very interesting to read. The plot is well crafted and tight enough to grab the readers’ interest, and the characters are realistic and well described. The dialogue sounds truthful and the language style is clear and simple. It is a good read that will entertain and educate readers as regards the rock stars era at the same time. It caters to mystery and crime lovers.”
Midwest Book Review

Dark Side of the Morgue:

Nominated for a Shamus Award for Best Paperback Original PI Novel by the Private Eye Writers of America!

“Benson is a top-class thriller craftsman who knows showbiz and music like the back of his hand. An unbeatable combination.”
—Lee Child 

“Spike Berenger is so real that I even tried looking him up in my address book in order to give him a call! Best rock read you will ever find!.”
—Rick Wakeman of Yes

“Book two in the Spike Berenger series is a riot… Benson is a musician himself and he knows what he’s talking about. He also is a hell of a writer and this book moves faster than a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert. He keeps the suspense going right to the end and while keeping the action tight he still manages to toss in some humor and loads of fun. Raymond Benson is someone who should be on everyone’s must read list.”
—Jon Jordan, Crimespree Magazine 

Dark Side of the Morgue is a terrific page-turner by one of the best thriller writers in the business!”
—David Morrell, author of First Blood

“Filled with musical references, tongue-in-cheek humor and fast-paced action, Dark Side of the Morgue is a must for fans of rock-n-roll and mystery investigations alike. Benson artfully encourages the reader to predict various possible outcomes with his expert prose and springs surprises around every corner.”
—Vicky Gilpin, FreshFiction.com 

“This is crackerjack writing, especially pleasing because Benson takes pains to paint Berenger in a detailed and realistic manner. After an El chase, the out-of-shape private investigator is a wreck and feels the effects for days. A far cry from Bond! Cut to the chase: Dark Side of the Morgue is a must…”
—Jim Cirile, Progression Magazine

Ice Cold: Tales of Intrigue from the Cold War:

“…a must-have volume for your bookshelf… The stories are not long, but run deep and are memorable, particularly for those of us who remember the dawn of that cold conflict… Benson manages with great subtlety to include suspense, terror, horror and mystery into one story of sixteen or so pages without a wasted word.”
—Joe Hartlaub, Book Reporter

“Page turners all!”
—Dawn Raffel, Readers Digest

“Benson closes the series with “Ghosts,” a story set during the Soviet invasion of Hungary. This tale manages to cover the gamut from suspense to horror, terror to mystery in sixteen pages.”
—Mae Woods Bell, Rocky Mountain Telegram

“Due to the talents of these writers, there is no way to put the book aside once reading has begun.”
—Mary Lignor, Suspense Magazine

 

James Bond

Zero Minus Ten:

“I may upset a few Fleming devotees by suggesting that Benson, while obviously lacking Fleming’s sheer innovative vision, is by far a finer descriptive writer. The smells and sound of Hong Kong seem to seep out of these pages and the effect is both intoxicating and, to some degree, educational. Benson isn’t afraid, on occasion, to shower the reader in the heady results of his research. Bond’s tackle with Triad forces, over a seemingly in-depth Chinese game called Mahjong, is vividly detailed. So much, in fact, that Bond’s grasp of the game seems unlikely, to say the least. This detailing returns later in the book as Bond observes a Triad ritual, and one can’t help feeling that the author, too, must have sneaked into the inner sanctums of this mysterious, ancient and all-powerful oriental force… Benson shows a good deal of skill in reconstructing this character… ZERO MINUS TEN does succeed, and against enormous odds. Not enough perhaps, to appease the anger of the Fleming trainspotters, for they didn’t even accept [Kingsley] Amis. Personally, however, I’d feel no sense of irony in proudly filing this next to my prized first edition of FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE. Yes, it really is that good. Bond is back, in hugely entertaining style…”
Manchester Evening News, UK

“Bond novels have been written by several authors since Fleming’s death, including Kingsley Amis, but Raymond Benson is, for my money, one of the best. His fast-paced action and stylish recreation of 007 make his work a must for all Bond fans.”
Edinburgh Evening News, UK

“A Bond aficionado picks up the 007 mantle from John Gardner and reverts to the style of Ian Fleming. PC-ness goes out the window and it’s a more ruthless Bond with bad habits…”
Peterborough Evening Telegraph, UK

“…a more than serviceable first thriller that could give Ian Fleming’s ultracool hero yet another new lease on life… Benson’s 007 is a chip off the old block and, if not a gilt-edged Bond, at least a double-A.”
Kirkus Reviews, USA

“It’s not easy keeping James Bond up to date while retaining the mystique of the original Ian Fleming books, but Raymond Benson does a good job in this latest outing.”
Chicago Tribune, USA

The Facts of Death:

“The fate of the world, and James Bond, are in capable hands in this second 007 adventure from Benson… A postmodern treat for fans and newcomers that lovingly, if not ironically, duplicates a formula so familiar that originality would be sacrilege.”
Kirkus Reviews, USA

“Benson imbues his Bond with enough honor, sexual prowess and action-hero skills to please the purist and enthrall the novice.”
Publishers Weekly, USA

“The author has portrayed Bond as the somewhat amoral character of the original novels and the book is typical of its kind, easily read and full of enough cliffhanging situations, gadgetry, beautiful women, sex, villains and violent death to satisfy any James Bond fan.”
Telegraph & Argus, Bradford, UK

High Time To Kill:

“Benson… shows why he was chosen to pick up from stylish John Gardner the franchise on Ian Fleming’s deathproof hero. No one can ever match FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE, Fleming’s dark masterpiece of serious Bondian daring… but Benson’s latest will satisfy those destined never to have the thrill of discovery FROM RUSSIA gave us in the 1950s… Smartly plotted all the way, right down to a black climax echoing the final page of ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE.”
Kirkus Reviews, USA

“The new Bond adventure HIGH TIME TO KILL is [Benson’s] most thrilling yet.”
Evening News, UK

“This is by far Benson’s best Bond novel. Not only does he present a realistic plot, but he gives 007 interesting people to interact with…As in the original books, Benson makes use of the “Fleming Sweep,” which whisks the reader from one short chapter to another…This is a thoroughly modern espionage novel that also gives insights into James Bond’s past…Benson’s writing fits precisely into the Bond tradition of escapist fiction…As Ian Fleming was fond of saying about his own books, HIGH TIME TO KILL is the perfect book to read on an airplane or waiting for a train. It is light fare that goes down quickly and is not meant for serious thought-just plain summer fun. Nobody does it better.”
Oregon Daily Emerald, USA

DoubleShot:

“Benson’s faithful manipulation of Fleming’s boilerplate formula will have Bond fans cheering as 007 and the sexy twins race to save the day…”
Publishers Weekly, USA

“The difficult part for a writer of 007 tales is coming up with new villains, new plots, and new settings. What makes Benson a good writer is that he is willing to stretch the character to make things interesting. In his hands, Bond is more than a robot and deeper than the cardboard cutout that populates the films.”
Marin Independent Journal, USA

“Benson’s new books are real vintage 007.”
Peterborough Evening Telegraph, UK

“Benson’s Bond books are much more in the style of the originals.”
Glasgow Evening Times, UK

Never Dream of Dying:

“…it’s clear that [Benson] knows his material backward and forward. It’s also clear that he’s an adroit writer, the best of the successors to Bond creator Fleming. Fans of Fleming’s original novels can pick up a Benson adventure and feel right at home, and readers coming to the series without any previous knowledge of 007 (if there are any such readers left in the world) will learn everything they need to know about him from this tight, tough, thrilling yarn.”
Booklist, USA

“Benson does Fleming credit; his Bond is a worthy replica of the original.”
Publishers Weekly, USA

“Benson seems to have hit his stride in this, his liveliest and nastiest Bond book yet.”
Kirkus Reviews, USA

“What sets this book apart from its two predecessors in the Union series, however, is not just a better constructed and more gripping plot, but also the humanisation of Bond… he has rediscovered the mood and psyche of the self-assured and, at times, humorous assassin… Bond is human, after all, and Benson has him looking deep within himself.”
The Journal/Newcastle

The Man with the Red Tattoo:

” * * * * * (5 stars) This is James Bond as tough and sexy as in his younger days, with Benson’s stories reflecting the rejuvenated 007 of the Pierce Brosnan era.”
Peterborough Evening Telegraph

“Benson, who has written other Bond books, manages to capture the essence of the suave spy. The Man With the Red Tattoo has everything you would expect, such as high-tech gadgets, beautiful women and gripping action. Benson’s writing style is clean and crisp, and he manages to inject just enough detail and context, while keeping the book to a manageable 292 pages. If you have seen all the Bond movies several times and wish there were more of them about, then this book is the next best thing.”
Newbury Weekly News Group

Red Tattoo is Benson’s best Bond tale for some time. There is non-stop action from page one, a great set of villains and, surprisingly for a Bond novel, a plausible plot.”
Yorkshire Evening Press

“There are all the usual thrills and spills you would expect from a Bond adventure as our hero travels through Japan’s criminal underworld with the help of a beautiful female spy. Benson recreates the hustle and bustle of Tokyo superbly with just as much detail given to Japanese customs and traditions.”
Doncaster Free Press

The James Bond Bedside Companion:

Nominated for Edgar Allan Poe Award, Best Biographical/Critical Work, 1984 (Mystery Writers of America)

“Fleming’s highly interesting life, and the parallels between it and his enduring character, provide an engrossing study. In addition to the many Bond aficionados, this is recommended reading for anyone researching how to write mystery/suspense stories. It details the Bond formula right down to the bone.”
Variety

“…this hefty album celebrates James Bond with an altogether infectious enthusiasm and an equally solid scholarship.”
Washington Post

“A buff’s delight.”
Booklist

“Thorough and judicious… in its coverage, this tells us more than any but committed fans will want to know.”
Publishers Weekly

“Raymond Benson has attempted—and succeeded—in the mammoth task of covering everything connected with Bond, from the Fleming novels through to the films and their attendant spinoffs, such as toys, games and even fan clubs… It is therefore the most complete work on Bond to date.”
007 Magazine, James Bond 007 Fan Club

 

Tie-Ins

Metal Gear Solid:

Winner of the “Lovey” (Readers’ Choice Award) for Best Paranormal/Sci Fi/Horror Novel of 2008 from the Love is Murder Conference for authors and readers of mysteries, thrillers, horror and romance fiction!

Named as one of the Top Ten Videogame Novelizations (No. 8!) by Videogame Review Pro website

“The book works extremely well as a stand alone, bringing you into Solid Snake’s world. If you are looking for an exciting novel filled with action and surprises, Metal Gear Solid is definitely worth grabbing!”
—Tracy Farnsworth, Roundtable Reviews

“The author has managed to create a likeable protagonist using the singular dimensional material he was given to work with. It’s a great romp with a touch of humor and actually manages to give the video game some fictional ballast that works. The novelization of Metal Gear Solid isn’t something I’d recommend to serious readers of fiction, but those who play the game will find it a satisfactory and fun accessory to their gaming pleasure. Then again, serious readers who read Tom Clancy or Clive Cussler thrillers might get some fun out of this book too: it’s well written and a lot of fun.”
—Marianne Plumridge, MuseDuJour.blogspot.com

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty:

“The book follows the path and events of the game down to the annoying amount of pigeons plaguing Raiden at the Big Shell. Every codec conversation that doesn’t explain how to climb a ladder or swim with a 110-pound weight on your back for gameplay sake is included. A few times during the book, I would say a line of dialog aloud before flipping to the next page to read it. This linear adaptation doesn’t mean Benson forgets to have a little fun, though… During the tanker mission, Snake snaps a photo of a locker model poster. It’s hinted that he’s doing it to see Otacon’s reaction more than for his own personal use. This bit is an Easter egg in the game but in all honesty, I got a good chuckle at how it was included as an actual event in the book… Benson also does a nice job at alluding to elements in MGS4. Near the end when Snake gives Raiden the sword that Olga left for him, Benson makes sure to put a great deal of emphasis on how quickly it affects his battle psyche and becomes essential to him which gives a nice nod to his complete badassery with it in Guns of the Patriots… Also, remember when we all thought for about five or six years that Olga’s child was a boy? At the end when Raiden and Snake are discussing the whereabouts of the child, it’s originally referred to as a “he” though by the time the trailers with Sunny in them started to break, we realized it was actually a “she”. Benson offsets this “mistake” with an exchange between them that suggests the child could be a girl as well. It’s a very minor addition and I doubt anyone but me will appreciate it but it made me smile…The book truly shines in giving better control of pacing the build… Bottom line: Go get it even for the sake of adding another official piece of MGS merch to your collection (it’s got the Kojima seal of approval, guys). If you think your understanding of SoL is already on the expert level, the novelization is a great companion to the game. In fact, if you play the soundtrack whist reading it, you can nearly have the full experience without ever turning on your PS2. But if you’re like me, then you’ll benefit indefinitely from reading it. It’s not groundbreaking but it’s not supposed to be. It gives you exactly what you need without making you begrudgingly participate in those fleeting moments of “gameplay” where you actually have to move the character to cue the next cutscene.”
—Amanda Mack, Mishmash Magazine.com

Homefront—The Voice of Freedom:

Winner of the “Lovey” (Readers’ Choice Award) for Best Paranormal/Sci Fi/Horror Novel of 2011 from the Love is Murder Conference for authors and readers of mysteries, thrillers, horror and romance fiction!

“…you’d expect an exciting, intriguing and perfectly structured novel, one of those books that is almost impossible to put down and makes you think about it even when you’re not reading it. And you know what? That’s exactly what we’ve got… the story builds up to the conflict outlined at the beginning and then moves past it to a finale that makes it physically impossible to stop reading until the end… There are some key moments throughout the novel, when several storylines click together and give you those “light bulb” moments. Without going into detail (the story is too good for me to ruin) Walker’s arrival at Las Vegas is one of the major turning points of the invasion, and the events we read about at the beginning start to fall into place. On top of that, the narrative switches seamlessly between the story of Walker’s life, sections from his journal and a parallel story following Salmusa, the Korean General in charge of operations in the States. Seeing the involvements of the two main characters merging together as the novel progresses, as well as first hand entries from the journal, gives a much wider view of the conflict despite the focus mainly being on the two main characters. It works beautifully – you see the success of one man causing grief for the other, and despite the power of the Koreans they don’t always have the upper hand, to the point that up until the final page you have no idea who will eventually come out on top… Any book that has you so engrossed that you think about it during your normal day to day life, and makes you start to believe that the events unfolding could actually happen one day, deserves a place in your collection whether you’re a gamer or not. Brilliant!”
—TheGamingReview.com

“There are many reasons to love Homefront: The Voice of Freedom whether you’re intending to invest in the videogame when it launches or not. For those who are, however, Homefront: The Voice of Freedom presents a significant expansion to the fiction within which the game takes place than could possibly be imagined. Simply one of the most intelligently handled expositions of a videogame franchise ever, be it a television series, comic book or novel, Homefront: The Voice of Freedom is essential reading for anyone who intends to look beyond Homefront’s shooting mechanics.”
—ElectronicTheatre.co.uk

“Raymond Benson is the author for this one and I have to say I love his writing style. He’s done a ton of work previously from James Bond, Metal Gear Solid, to Splinter Cell. I’ve read his Splinter Cell novels and one thing I loved about them is his first person writing styles. Switching off between a traditional 3rd person writing style to a first person style, Homefront continues this trait with ‘Walker’s Journal’ chapters. Here we get an inside look at what the main character is thinking, feeling, and events around the US all in a ‘diary’ sort of format. It’s a fantastic aspect and really provides the reader a good look into the character. The novel moves at a quick pace… the action is tense and more than once I found myself not wanting to stop reading. The book manages to paint a futuristic world that is extremely plausible, that I found myself thinking how I’d react in some of these situations. It’s a bit chilling to be honest. You honestly don’t have to be someone chomping at the bit to play Homefront or be an avid gamer to enjoy this book. With Benson’s writing style and the subject matter of the novel, you’ll be hooked and won’t want to put it down. You can tell great care and research went into this book as the history the book presents, while fictional, presents itself in a logical sort of way. If you’re into Homefront this is a must buy easily. If you’re also someone who likes action thrillers or militaristic novels, you’ll also enjoy this book.”
—GamerCrash.wordpress.com

“Bang!, right off the start it’s one of those concepts you might have thought about due to current events that makes your mind explode and this is only the background story. It might sound a tad too far fetched at first thought but honestly, the way in which John Milius and Raymond Benson piece this all together makes this distant possibility a sudden, close reality…With a such sharp contrast of characters, it really helps to build tension and show you both sides of the coin…Overall, Voice of Freedom could become a forerunner for bridging the gap between video game literature and upcoming releases and help people count down to the release better then any old preview ever could. Its mix of possible reality and extreme believability make Voice of Freedom one heck of a good book.”
—Square-go.com

Computer Games

Ultima VII—The Black Gate:

“When it comes to suspense and a strong, unified plot, ULTIMA VII delivers as none of its predecessors did… The storytelling here is of a very high level, superb because it develops real characters, real fear, and a real sense of loss… As the best fantasy is, ULTIMA VII is an allegory for problems in the real world… ULTIMA VII contains much more than just adventure. Scriptwriter Raymond Benson and the other members of the writing team have really outdone themselves. In terms of plotting, ULTIMA VII is head and shoulders above almost any of the other fantasy games out there… A good novel doesn’t have to revolutionize the form; it simply has to use the form well and tell a good, new story. ULTIMA VII does this, and in many ways is like a really good fantasy novel.”
Computer Gaming World

“This is by far the darkest of the ULTIMAs, not so much for what appears on screen, but for the way the game makes you feel. THE BLACK GATE is not the first ULTIMA to generate atmosphere, but it’s the first to do so in much the same way a well-crafted novel or a movie generates it—with an initial shock to get your attention, and a nice slow burn to keep it… Indeed, the game is the most subtle and eloquent of all the others in the ULTIMA series… Playing ULTIMA VII—THE BLACK GATE alone and at night absolutely gave me the creeps…”
PC Games Magazine

“…the plotting of ULTIMA VII is way ahead of anything that has gone before. At first, talking to any character offers three avenues to pursue: ‘name,’ ‘job,’ or ‘bye.’ Much information can be gained from this starting point and more questions can be asked as the dialogue progresses. Talking to practically every character reveals a complex web, or tree, of conversation topics…it’s way ahead of the competition…it is this communication system that forms the heart of the game—all advancement into the story is made by fact finding and clue solving…the characterization and communication system in ULTIMA VII is so strong that walking around, exploring, talking to people and cross referencing their conversations is actually far more fun than the combat aspects…every individual in the game really is individual… it’s also a world which has been fully fleshed out, right down to the smallest detail. Take, for instance, a plot that includes parallels with real-world racism, drug abuse, cults, and even includes a sexual element for good measure. It also takes time to laugh at itself…”
PC Format Magazine

Return of the Phantom:

“Great art is its own excuse, of course, but there’s a graphic adventure here, too. It’s a rather good one and has character and brains to go with its looks… there’s something intelligent about the writing that kept my interest…”
Compute Magazine

“This game is a centuries-old mystery, full of chilling suspense. Diabolical traps, intricate puzzles, and an unusual story make for a great adventure…Feel the excitement as you try to solve one of the most intriguing mysteries ever! Make sure you don’t miss this one!”
Computer Game Review

“Past and present swirl together in a macabre mystery that you, as police detective Raoul Montand of the Surete, must solve. Designer Raymond Benson… spins a tale derived from the classic horror epic that has scared and delighted the world… Things get wilder and weirder by the minute…”
Electronic Games Magazine

Picked as one of the six “hot new games for summer shut-ins” by Newsweek

Are You Afraid Of The Dark?—The Tale Of Orpheo’s Curse:

Newsweek Editors’ Choice Award—Parents’ Guide To Children’s Software ’96

Parents’ Choice Award For Excellence (Parents’ Choice Foundation)

“… a title of substantial quality… The puzzles are perfectly balanced between hard and soft and many of them are inventive. It looks good. It plays good. It’s great!”
Computer Game Review

“…Despite targeting younger kids, ORPHEO’S CURSE will likely appeal to adults as well as it follows Nickelodeon’s tradition of not talking down to kids in an insulting manner. As a game, though, don’t be tricked into thinking this is a walk in the park. It is even likely that seasoned adventurers will find some challenge in the game… ORPHEO’S CURSE is a pleasant surprise: an entertaining and enjoyable adventure for all ages.”
Strategy Plus

“ORPHEO’S CURSE provides seemingly limitless possibilities, and it’s sure to keep the whole family occupied past the witching hour. Rating: * * * * * ”
Electronic Entertainment

The Indian in the Cupboard:

Winner: Digital Hollywood Award—Best Children’s CD-ROM Computer Game

Winner: Digital Hollywood Award—Best Overall CD-ROM Computer Game

Recommended Kid Picks title, **** (USA Today)

“…one of 1996’s finest children’s CD-ROMs… we’ve never seen kids’ software portray Native American culture quite so sensitively or so well. Any child who loved the film will flip for the CD-ROM, but missing the movie didn’t dampen Laura’s enthusiasm—the 6-year-old peered pensively as each character came to life in the cupboard. ‘That’s so cool,’ she whispered, ‘So cool. So cool…’ ****”
Home PC

Dark Seed II:

“DARK SEED II offers a much better and more full-bodied adventure [than its predecessor]. The artwork is still gorgeous—rendered Super VGA graphics in the normal world and Giger’s grotesques in the Dark World. But now a substantial game supports the whole. DARK SEED II is not inventory-driven, as so many graphic adventures tend to be. The focus is story, exploration, and careful observation, not collecting objects. You’ll need to talk to people and then talk to them again (and yet again) once you’ve sorted out more of the plot… The result is a deep and intricate involvement with the adventure. When you play, you play passionately, learning the game terrain as though you lived in it. DARK SEED II will absorb your full attention… DARK SEED II is a classic graphic adventure that improves on its predecessor in almost every way. ****”
PC Entertainment

“The plot thickens as more and more clues come to light (or dark, as the case may be). The puzzles are difficult at times, easier at other times, but always challenging… If you think that a character is acting weird, that’s because they are weird. More than one person in this game is running a few sandwiches short of a picnic… the style of characterization only adds to the feeling that something is horribly wrong in your little hometown… All told, DARK SEED II is a marvelously macabre piece of dark work…”
Strategy Plus

“In addition to offering more images and greater resolution, the game promises more chills and thrills than its popular predecessor… DARK SEED II takes Giger’s terrifying visions to a whole new level… this DARK SEED is a frighteningly good time for all.”
Starlog Magazine

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