Deaver's thriller roots are obvious in this book. I do dislike the habit he has of having Bond shipped something over from Q Branch, but he doesn't show you what it is straight away. First, Deaver attempts to conceal what the gadget is until it's needed, when he tries to pull it out as a surprise of sorts.
A reminder of the time when novels were fully serialised is present as well, as scarcely a chapter goes by without ending on a cliffhanger. As a result, half of the time reading the book is like watching a horror movie, in which the father advances in the boy hero's room with a knife, only to offer some brownies to the boy. All just a hilarious misunderstanding. Fortunately, knowing about how such literary devices work doesn't stop them from working.
My main complaint about the book is that it has ending upon ending, some of which occur at the end of chapters as I mentioned earlier. Just when you think the book is done, you notice the chunk of pages left to go and you know that you're in for another secret plan being unveiled or some such. And of course, I'm pretty sure I spotted a sequel hook or two.
Another very minor niggle is that I don't like the way that the title made itself felt throughout the book. Fair enough, M has given Bond "Carte Blanche" to do whatever he likes (we know this because the dust-jacket tells us, with a delivery that must've had Horatio Caine reaching for the sunglasses), but did he really have to devise a drink called the Carte Blanche as well?
That aside, I did enjoy reading the book. It's one of those books that if you devote the time to it, it'll just fly past and you'll be left wondering where the time went. I felt that it was a well-written book that really captured the essence of James Bond and left me stirred, not shaken.