Icebreaker, first published in 1983, was the third 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 Jonathan Cape and is the first Bond novel to be published in the United States by Putnam, beginning a long-standing association.
After a routine SIS training mission in Finland, Bond decided to pay a visit to his old friend Paula Vacker. When he arrived at her apartment, he was attacked by armed assailants and sustained a shoulder wound. The next day he immediately went back to London to report the occurrence to M. M then informed him that the training mission had been intended to get him ready for Operation Icebreaker, a multi-intelligence operation founded by the KGB. The Soviet Union sought help from the CIA, MI6, and the Israeli intelligence organization Mossad in order to stop arms reaching the hands of the National Socialist Action Army, a group based in Finland near the Russian Border that believed itself to be the Fourth Reich.
Bond was then sent to meet his colleagues, Mossad's Rivke Ingber, the CIA's Brad Tirpitz and the KGB's Nicolai Moslov. Bond quickly tested his colleagues' information by pretending to have none and seeing what they withheld. Ingber seemed to have little to no information, while Tirpitz and Bond were equally well informed. Moslov however withheld key details such as the suspect Konrad von Glöda, and omitting tanks and warheads from his list of weapons trafficked to the NSAA facility "Blue Hare".
Before leaving town, Bond stopped back at Paula Vacker's apartment and found it ransacked with two Nazi medals belonging to an "Aarne Tudeer". Recognizing the name Tudeer as the surname of a colleague Paula had admitted to discussing Bond with after the initial attack, he called M to send a picture and to gather intelligence on "Anni Tudeer". Bond decided to drive his Saab 900 Turbo to the rendez-vous point, but en route was attacked by several snow plows that meant to crush him. Bond was able to outmaneuver the plows, and arrive safely.
When he reached his hotel room, he found that the picture of Tudeer had arrived, and he opened it to find that Tudeer was in fact Rivke Ingber. He confronted her about it, and she admitted to having once been named Anni Tudeer, daughter of Aarne Tudeer, who had escaped from her father in her youth. She did know Paula Vacker, but had not known since her school days.
The next day, Bond was informed by Tirpitz that treachery surrounded their entire operation, and suggested that they look after one another. Bond then was received a phone call from a woman that he believed to be Paula Vacker, who told him to "say goodbye to Anni". Rivke, who had just started down a ski slope at their hotel. On her way down, a bomb went off that fractured both her legs. Moslov called the hospital while Bond and Tirpitz worked with police to get her down. Ultimately, Bond used his Schermuly Pains-Wessex Speedline line-shooting gun to shoot her a line, which she grabbed, and they reeled her down from the slope. He got her into an ambulance, and a Doctor Simonsson informed him that she would be taken to the hospital in Salla. After calling the hospital he not only learned that Rivke had not been admitted, but that no Doctor Simonsson worked there, and that no police squad was sent to their hotel. Despite his fears for Rivke's safety, It was decided that the ride to Blue Hare would commence without her.
Before the trip began, Tirpitz bugged Moslov's room and shared with Bond that they were planning to take him out next. the two then worked out a way for Tirpitz to stage his death, and escape the landmine that was planted for him. Bond then began to theorize that the "Ice Palace", Moslov's theorized underground "Heart of the NSAA" was not where he has told them, but was in the Soviet Union, and altered his map to reflect the possible change before heading out with Moslov and Tirpitz for a ride through the tundras and forests that surrounded Blue Hare. Along the way, Tirpitz's scooter hit the mine, and just as Bond expected, Moslov insisted that they continue on to the facility. They took photos of the arms deal and followed the convoy of trucks to the Ice Palace, and were joined by a Russian Agent that Moslov had contacted to replace Rivke. Shortly after, they were surrounded by armed soldiers, and the new agent turned out to be Paula Vacker.
She and Moslov then led Bond into the facility and to the office of their führer Konrad von Glöda, who sat with his reichsführer Brad Tirpitz. The count asked everyone to leave the room and revealed his scheme to Bond. As it turned out, Bond was part of a deal between the NSAA and the re-branded SMERSH to remove a person who was keeping the NSAA from rising to power in return for their most wanted spy: James Bond. He then revealed his plan to destroy the Blue Hare arms facility and to take residence in another bunker to use his newfound trusting relationship with the Soviet Union to take his Fourth Reich into the world, but first needed to know what MI6 knew about his plan from a captured soldier. After refusing to give any information, Bond was tortured by being taken hundreds of feet below the freezing earth and dipped in to an underground pool. He eventually passed out and awoke in a hospital room next to Rivke, whom he told what he knew and began to plan an escape.
Paula then rushed in and smashed hidden bugs in the room before shooting Ingber in her face and killing her. She then told him that She was an agent of the Finnish Intelligence Agency, SUPO, and that Anni Tudeer had all along been in league with her father, and that she herself had been in under deep cover to get information for Operation Icebreaker. Disguised as a NSAA officers, Paula led Bond out of the facility and to a makeshift headquarters with SUPO operatives in the forest. One took Bond into one of the tents where they were ambushed by Kolya Moslov who planned to take Bond to Moscow as his prisoner. Paula and the other operatives were able to overpower Moslov with ease and left him tied up at the camp while they went to observe the move from the Ice Palace that commenced after Bond's security breach. They then watch as Soviet bombers destroy the base and return to Finland after finding that Moslov had escaped and murdered his guard.
At his hotel room in Finland, Bond was again captured by Moslov who demanded that he be allowed to use the phone unit in Bond's Saab. Bond took him to the car, but instead of opening the phone compartment, he opened a compartment with a Ruger Redhawk pistol which he used to eliminate Moslov before speeding to the airport to stop von Glöda, whom Moslov informed him was leaving the country. At the terminal, Bond was aided by Brad Tirpitz to eliminate the führer in front of a horrified crowd. Bond took two bullets to the chest in the firefight and awoke in hospital with M nearby. He informed him that Tirpitz was also a deep-cover agent sent to gather information on the NSAA. A Nurse called Ingrid then came in to check on him, and Bond asked her on a date, which she was more than willing to accept, but only when he was completely healed, as she informed him that he would need it. Paula then came in and put a damper on their plans before Bond fell asleep content with his situation.
- Bond gets several weeks of driving training from Erik Carlsson as preparation for this arctic assignment. Carlsson was a real associate of Gardner's on his trip to Finland for background information, and is mentioned in the book's acknowledgements.
- Gardner, on his website, reveals that his publisher originally rejected the title Icebreaker, only to come back to it after rejecting "turkey after turkey" in terms of alternate titles.
- Icebreaker was released in Finland under a title James Bond - Tehtävä Suomessa (James Bond - Mission in Finland). Part of the book takes place in Finland.
- In this book, Bond uses a Rolex Oyster Perpetual watch.