Win, Lose or Die - Small Title NovelLocationsEquipmentCharacters

Win, Lose or Die, first published in 1989, was the eighth novel by John Gardner featuring Ian Fleming's secret agent, James Bond. Carrying the Glidrose Publications copyright, it was first published in the United Kingdom by Hodder and Stoughton and in the United States by Putnam.

Beginning with this novel, and continuing for the remainder of the John Gardner series, Bond is promoted to the Royal Navy rank of Captain.

Plot summary

M receives word that a terrorist organisation known as BAST (The Brotherhood of Anarchy and Secret Terrorism) is planning to infiltrate and destroy a top-secret British Royal Navy aircraft carrier-based summit scheduled a year hence between American President George H. W. Bush, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Russian Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. To counteract this, James Bond is returned to active duty in the Royal Navy and promoted from Commander to Captain, in order to infiltrate the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible and identify potential sleeper agents.

In the months leading to the top-secret summit, Bond spends his time training at Yeovilton learning to fly a Navy Sea Harrier jet. With knowledge of Bond's task, BAST decides that Bond is a hindrance to their plans and attempts to kill him, once attempting to shoot him down while in his Sea Harrier during a training exercise. After long Bond goes on holiday in Italy where once again another attempt is made on his life, but presumably ends up taking the life of his then-current girlfriend, Beatrice Maria da Ricci.

Returning from holiday Bond boards the HMS Invincible and is tasked with security for the secret summit referred to as the "Stewards' Meeting" all the while a massive war game is being carried out between American, British, and Soviet Navies known as Landsea '89. Before long Bond is at the center of a murder investigation of an American Naval Intelligence officer, and while away to report the incident BAST has executed it's plans to capture the ship and hold the world three most powerful leaders for a 600 billion dollar ransom.


  • Bassam Baradj
    Born Robert Besavitsky in New York, Baradj is the main leader of BAST, codenamed "Viper." Beginning his criminal career as a small-time robber, Baradj is a conman, sociopath, and master of disguise, adept at changing his identity to disappear when the need suits him. BAST's plot to take over and hold the world's three most powerful leaders was his idea. He is later killed by Beatrice Maria da Ricci in Gibraltar as he is about to murder Bond.
  • Abou Hamarik
Abou Hamarik
  • Hamarik, codenamed "Snake," is the second of three leaders of BAST. He is able to infiltrate the HMS Invincible by killing an American Naval Intelligence officer who has been called into replace another that was murdered onboard the carrier. Hamarik is found out and is wounded by Nikki Ratnikov after he had taken Bond and a number of secret service agents from the three nations hostage. After the incident, Hamarik is arrested by Bond.
  • Clover Pennington
    First Officer Clover Pennington is a Wren with the Royal Navy. She is scretly the third head of BAST, codenamed "Cat." Under Pennington's leadership while Bond is away BAST is able to take over the aircraft carrier with a number of supporters (all Wrens), whom were aboard the ship for the Landsea '89 war game. Pennington is accidentally killed by one of her supporters after being used as cover and pushed into a room by Bond.
  • Beatrice Maria da Ricci
Beatrice Maria da Ricci
  • Ricci is a secret operative working for the British secret service who has been tasked with protecting Bond, specifically while on holiday. She is supposedly killed while on holiday in Italy with Bond, however, she makes a return later on informing Bond that her death was appropriately faked in order to save Bond from another attempt on his life by BAST. She and Bond later team up to arrest Bassam Baradj, although ultimately she kills Baradj while saving Bond's life.
  • Nikki Ratnikov
    Nikki Ratnikov is a secret service agent from Russia who was sent to protect Mikhail Gorbachev during the Steward's Meeting. She is killed by Abou Hamarik during an exchange of gunfire while on board the HMS Invincible. During the exchange she successful wounds Hamarik, which later leads to his arrest.