Review: Forever and a Day by Anthony Horowitz

9781911214779Like Trigger Mortis, Anthony Horowitz’s first 007 novel, Forever and a Day has all the essential James Bond ingredients — the audacious plot, the maniacal villain(s), the beautiful woman, the rip-roaring pace — but lacks that secret sauce, the Fleming Factor that has made Bond the sacrosanct icon of the spy genre. But even Ian Fleming, Bond’s creator, couldn’t always harness this; for every brilliant Bond novel there was a dud; for every Casino Royale, Moonraker, From Russia with Love and Goldfinger there was a You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me and Diamonds are Forever. Rest assured: both Trigger Mortis and Forever and a Day are closer to the top tier of Bond novels than they are the bottom, and are top-notch, read-in-one-sitting thrillers.

Set before the events of Casino Royale, James Bond — newly-promoted to the 00 section —  is assigned to investigate the murder of his predecessor whose body was found bullet-ridden in the waters of Marseille. Fleming never delved too far into Bond’s backstory; snippets were revealed throughout the course of the series, but it never much mattered how and why Bond acquired his license to kill. Horowitz seems to recognise this too; we don’t spend too much time with an ‘unlicensed’ Bond, and regardless of his ‘inexperience’ in the 00 section of Her Majesty’s Secret Service, he’s still a formidable operative; just not yet hardened into the bruised, battered, and eventually broken man readers are confronted with in later novels.

Horowitz has concocted an excellent, truly Fleming-esque villain in Scipio, a tremendously overweight Corsican drug-dealer. Bond’s first encounter with the man is evocative of Fleming’s greatest standoff’s, and the subsequent torture sequence is played brilliantly, and is truly chilling. Sure, he and his cohort’s dastardly sinister scheme is preposterous, but when it comes to Bond, we expect the outlandish. One character Fleming mightn’t have had the capacity to create is Sixtine, who is assuredly a post-#MeToo partner for 007; alluring for sure, but the kind of kick-arse, strong, independent woman Bond’s creator populated his books with alarmingly infrequency. Of course, they eventually sleep together —  hardly a spoiler — but not before Sixtine makes it absolutely clear their union is on her terms, not his. Still, it might be time to remove this trope from Bond novels; he’ll be no less a cool character for not bedding someone in future adventures; we’re here for the thrills and spills, not the bluntly-rendered sex. Horowitz has started the process of tacitly cleaning-up the seamier aspects of 007’s character, but there’s still more to be done. 

Forever and a Day is, if anything, superior to some of Ian Fleming’s originals. Horowitz’s affection for Bond and for all the tropes that surround him is abundantly clear, and the book works perfectly as an in-continuity pastiche, which I believe was the author’s objective. We’re not modernising Bond, as Raymond Benson, John Gardner and Jeffrey Deaver attempted; Horowitz is merely borrowing Fleming’s character, and propelling him on another thrilling adventure. Which it is. There is ultimately only one test for a book such as this: do you want to keep turning the pages? Answer: heck, yes. And not because it’s James Bond, but because the pace propulsive and there are enough twists and surprises to keep you gripped.

ISBN: 9781911214786
ISBN-10: 1911214780
Format: Paperback
Pages: 336
Imprint: Jonathan Cape Ltd
Publisher: Random House Children’s Publishers UK
Publish Date: 18-Jun-2018
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

 

Review: The Man With the Golden Gun by Ian Fleming

Golden GunIan Fleming’s James Bond series began its descent with Thunderballand never regained traction, or ever threatened to reclaim its former glory, despite fleeing glimpses of ingenuity in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and a couple of hair-raising scenes in You Only Live Twice. At this point, both the author, and his famous protagonist seem to be running on fumes. The Man With the Golden Gun — Fleming’s final Bond novel — epitomises the disappointing turn the series had taken, with a weak villain, insipid premise, and altogether un-thrilling prose. But in this case it’s hard to point the blame squarely at Fleming, who died before he could properly edit the novel. Perhaps it was salvageable. We’ll never know. Unfortunately what we’re left with is a half-baked 007 caper, which never takes advantage of its monumental opening chapter.

When we last saw Bond, he had been posted missing, presumed dead, after events in Japan (detailed in You Only Live Twice). But at the beginning of The Man With the Golden Gun, Bond is back in London, via the Soviet Union, where he has been brainwashed, and tasked with the assassination of M, the head of the Secret Service. Allowed access to M’s inner sanctum, Bond’s attempt to kill M is unfortunately — (for the sake of the plot, I wasn’t rallying for M’s demise, I swear!) — foiled inside the first couple of chapters, and his rehabilitation almost entirely skipped over in order to transition the book’s focus to his mission to find and kill Francisco Scaramanga, an American trigger-man known as “The Man with the Golden Gun,” who is facilitating a meeting in Jamaica with a bunch of notorious gangsters.

Had Fleming chosen to focus on Bond’s brainwashing and rehabilitation — perhaps then re-targeting Bond at the men who poisoned his mind — this novel might’ve been something special, at the very least, a very different kind of 007 thriller. After all, Fleming was no stranger to changing his formula; the less-than-spectacular The Spy Who Loved Me being a key example. But what we’re left with his a very uninspired, by-the-numbers James Bond thriller. It’s tired, it’s stale, and its only saving grace is the climatic battle between 007 and Scaramanga, which isn’t enough to elevate it above middling.

The Man with the Golden Gun is a disappointing end to a series that hit its high points early and never reattained its glory. But nothing will ever take away from the brilliance of Casino Royale, Goldfinger, Moonraker and the pinnacle, From Russia With Love.

ISBN: 9780099576990
Format: Paperback (198mm x 129mm x 14mm)
Pages: 240
Imprint: Vintage Classics
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 1-Sep-2012
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Review: James Bond, Vol. 2: Eidolon by Warren Ellis & Jason Masters

9781524102722_p0_v2_s192x300Despite the exemplary creative team attached, the first volume of Dynamite Entertainment’s James Bond relaunch flattered to deceive. It was  packed with the staples Bond fans expect — shoot-ups, car chases, deadly cybernetically-enhanced henchmen, to name but a few — but lacked that special something. Less akin to Casino Royale, and more like Spectre. Thankfully volume 2 — produced by the same creative partnership of Warren Ellis and Jason Masters — rectifies the first’s missteps, and outdoes its predecessor in every way.

As dirty money is being laundered through MI5 — the United Kingdom’s domestic counter-intelligence and security agency — the Secret Intelligence Service has been neutered and disarmed. ‘Eidolon’ — another word for ghost, or spectre — has infiltrated the highest levels of British intelligence, and it’s up to Bond to terminate their operation. It’s a simple set-up, as the Bond novel plots have been since day dot, when Fleming wrote Casino Royale; but it means the creators get to focus on perfectly-choreographed, wide-screen action sequences, including one terrifically rendered car chase. There’s a dash of sex, plenty of thrills, and even features a visit to Q Branch, although there’s a distinct lack of high-tech gadgetry.

Ellis lets Masters take charge during the action scenes, limiting dialogue, allowing  these blockbuster moments to occur in silence. Masters pulls it all off with aplomb. It is brutal and visceral, but not gratuitous. But when Ellis does have the characters interacting, he nails their repartee. This is a tight script, full of great one-liners and scything commentary. One moment in particular had me chuckling, when Bond dumps a gun in a bin during an escape, and his companion asks: “You’re going to leave a loaded gun in a bin?” Bond’s reply is perfect: “It’s America. I don’t have time to give it to a child or a mentally ill person, so I’m leaving it in a bin for them to find.”

It is a shame, then, that with Eidolon, Ellis and Masters bid adieu. Just as they hit their stride and manufactured the perfect contemporary James Bond adventure, they’re gone. Still, what an exit. Any comic book reader with even a remote interest in 007 will dig this volume; so, too, any readers looking for a standalone action thriller.

ISBN: 9781524102722
Format: Hardback (267mm x 178mm x 19mm)
Pages: 152
Imprint: Dynamite Entertainment
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Publish Date: 14-Mar-2017

Review: You Only Live Twice by Ian Fleming

9780099576983The twelfth James Bond book marks a real low point in the series. More a travelogue than an espionage novel, and with fewer thrills than Ulysses, beyond the opening pages, which provide some genuine characterization and depth to 007 as he wallows in self-pity and guilt following the murder of his wife, there’s an overriding sense of boredom in Fleming’s prose and plotting. Fleming exhibited such imagination and bravado in his earlier works, but his trademark zest is in short supply here.

Since his wife’s death, Bond’s usefulness to Her Majesty’s government has expired. He is drinking more than ever, gambling gratuitously, and even worse, has bungled his most recent assignments. M is ready to pull the plug on 007’s career with the service, but is encouraged to send Bond on one final, “impossible” mission. And so, he is dispatched to Japan to convince the head of Japan’s secret intelligence service to provide Britain with information from radio transmissions captured from the Soviets. Alas, Bond and his superiors at MI6 don’t have anything Tiger Tanaka wants; but Tiger sees something in Bond, and demands he use his deadly skills to assassinate Guntram Shatterhand, who operates a “Garden of Death” in an ancient castle. And yes, you should take “Garden of Death”quite literally – it is a place full of toxic plants, where people come to commit suicide.

The big twist? Shatterhand is actually Ernst Stavro Blofeld – the man responsible for the murder of Bond’s wife, and former head of SPECTRE. So naturally, this is an assignment 007 accepts. But this time he’s not doing it for Queen and Country; this is about revenge.

The final fifty pages of You Only Live Twice pack some genuine excitement as Bond infiltrates Blofeld’s sanctum and seeks his prey. But even then, it’s all rather perfunctory, and far from Fleming’s best. And the cliffhanger ending – which worked brilliantly in From Russia With Love – is a tad insipid here.

It’s a shame, because the weary, shattered Bond we meet at the beginning of the novel is interesting. We have never seen 007 like this before, with such emotional baggage. But that baggage is rapidly eviscerated in favour of Fleming’s detailed account of post-war Japan. It’s set-up promises much, but fails to deliver; not even the rudimentary elements of the best Bond novels.

ISBN: 9780099576983
Format: Paperback  (198mm x 129mm x 19mm)
Pages: 304
Imprint: Vintage Classics
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 6-Sep-2012
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Review: The Man With the Golden Typewriter

Golden Type.jpgThe Man With the Golden Typewriter by Fergus Fleming provides unparalleled insight into Ian Fleming’s quest to become a successful novelist. This is a book for the James Bond aficionado, or indeed, anyone who has ever written a book, aspires to, or worked in publishing. It’s an expose of the man who created spy fiction’s everlastingly popular hero, told through the copious amount of letters he wrote to his wife, publisher, editors, fans, friends and critics. It reveals the man behind the myth, in his own words.

The best exchanges are those between Fleming and two of his most trusted readers, William Plomer and Daniel George, to whom he sent early drafts of each Bond novel. While they always found something positive to say, they didn’t shy away from criticism, either. As a writer myself, it is chastening to read commentary such as “on some pages the sentences all begin with ‘And.’” Polmer couldn’t see the point of this. “Presumably you are aiming at producing an effect of panting continuity. Take out all the ‘Ands’ and see if it makes any difference.” These are lessons every writer can learn from. But there are practical criticisms, too; faults in Fleming’s plot, or the continuity of events. 007 fanatics will lap up these exchanges.

Most terrifying (at least from my perspective, as I currently work in a marketing and PR) are Fleming’s interactions with his publisher, Jonathan Cape. To say Fleming was not an easy customer is an understatement. The way he haggles Cape for higher royalties, additional proofs, and pushes various marketing ideas, is frightening. But there is an elegance to their letters, despite the occasional underlying of sarcasm or (sometimes) malice. Fleming remains a gentleman throughout, seemingly unflappable and confident – an egotist – but there are moments when this façade cracks, revealing the anxious persona that exists inside all writers. In a letter to Raymond Chandler, he reveals his disparaging opinions of his James Bond novels, labelling them “straight pillow fantasies of the bang-bang, kiss-kiss variety.” He admits, “I don’t take them seriously enough and meekly accept having my head ragged off about them.” But his readers took them seriously, showcased by the plentiful letters, many full of praise, others critiquing certain details.

Interesting, too, is the distinct lack of letters between Fleming and his wife, Ann. Not because they never wrote to each other – there are a few scattered throughout the pages of The Man With the Golden Typewriter – but because their correspondence was withheld from publication because of Ann’s daughter, which highlights the fractured nature of the Fleming family. Indeed, one can’t help but wonder whether Ian and Ann were better off as occasional lovers than partners for life – their relationship had an acrimonious ending.

There is plenty for readers to latch onto in The Man With the Golden Typewriter, and one needn’t be a Bond fan to find nuggets of gold here, though of course, it helps. The Man With the Golden Typewriter showcases a different era of publishing, and the mindset of one of the world’s most popular authors. I simply couldn’t put it down.

ISBN: 9781408865484
Format: Paperback (234mm x 153mm x mm)
Pages: 400
Imprint: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publish Date: 1-Sep-2015
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Review: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by Ian Fleming

Maj SecretFollowing the failed experiment that was The Spy Who Loved Me, Ian Fleming reverted to type with his next Bond novel, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. But even here, there is evidence of his discontent with the 007 formula, perhaps with the character himself. For the six years of his existence, James Bond had been firing on all cylinders, dismantling the plots of various villains with a zestfulness that belied the high stakes of his capers. But as OHMSS opens, Bond is deliberating over his resignation letter, tired of his hapless hunt for the head of SPECTRE, Blofeld, who disappeared following Operation Thunderball. It seems the end is nigh for agent 007; he’s had his fill of adventure. Perhaps it’s even time to settle down…

The events of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service play out languidly (though no less assuredly), with the action reserved for two extraordinary set pieces in the alps. More than ever, the plot relies on happenstance rather than Bond’s cunning. While many thrillers utilise coincidence to ignite their plots – the protagonist happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, as an obvious example –  the great ones don’t rely on it as fuel. When 007’s interest is piqued in the enigmatic Contessa Teresa “Tracy” di Vicenzo, he is promptly introduced to her father, the head of the criminal empire known as the Union Corse, who (after pleading with Bond to marry his daughter) reveals his sources, coincidentally, know the location of Blofeld. This, despite the auspices of British, and indeed global intelligence agencies, who have been scouring the globe for the villain for a year. Turns out, the bastard is in Switzerland – and he’s up to his old tricks.

Posing as Sir Hilary Bray, Bond infiltrates the secluded headquarters and learns Blofeld is conducting biological experiments on ten women, and intends to release them ‘into the wild’ so their contagion spreads like wildfire. Armed with that knowledge, 007 is chased down the snowy peak in the novel’s most spectacular scene; Bond, on skis, being blasted from all sides by SPECTRE henchmen. At its conclusion, Tracy – again, coincidentally – comes across a battered, bloodied and bruised James Bond and escorts him to safety. It’s at this point Bond realises just how wonderful Tracy is, and with certitude he decides it’s time to settle down: Tracy is the woman for him, and she accepts his proposal without hesitation.

The thing is, while Tracy is unquestionably one of the more capable “Bond girls,” we’re not exposed to enough of her personality to understand precisely why she is the woman for Bond. Naturally, such scenes might’ve slowed the novel’s already languid pace, but without additional explication, she is undercooked. So her death, come the novel’s end, at the hand of Blofeld (spoilers, I know, but seriously, the film and the novel are decades old), lacks the emotional impact Fleming intended. Her romance with Bond is so short, and founded on so little, it’s very difficult to be moved by her untimely end. Of course, as Bond connoisseurs, we understand the impact her murder will have on the character, but we, the audience, have to conjure up emotions of our own making to feel 007’s pain rather than rely on Fleming’s rendering of their doomed relationship.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service aspires to be greater than it is. Fleming’s attempts to flesh out Bond’s character should be applauded, but it comes at a cost to the rip-roaring pace for which we remember, and celebrate, the character and his creator. It is a novel held in high esteem for its dramatic ending, but in this reader’s opinion, it lacked gravitas; much like the entire narrative. As we near the end of Fleming’s James Bond adventures, I wonder whether Fleming can reclaim the genius of his first novels? If memory serves, the answer is unfortunately no; but here’s hoping You Only Live Twice and The Man With the Golden Gun surprise me.

ISBN: 9780099576976
Format: Paperback (198mm x 129mm x 23mm)
Pages: 368
Imprint: Vintage Classics
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 6-Sep-2012
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Review: The Spy Who Loved Me by Ian Fleming

Spy Who.jpgI’m all for authors writing outside their established wheelhouse, or breaking free of their ‘series characters.’ Recently, I’ve wished for Lee Child, mega-selling author of the Jack Reacher novels, to try his hand at a standalone; to remove himself from the ‘comfort’ of his nomadic purveyor of justice. Not that he has any reason to do this; the Reacher novels continue to do gangbusters, and always reach #1 on the sales charts. Heck, even I, the naysayer in this scenario, always grab a copy of his latest on the day of release. But the writers who have refused to conform – Harlan Coben, for example, whose batch of standalones over the past decade have elevated him into a sphere he might never have reached had he stuck with Myron Bolitar. And as much of a fan as I am of Dennis Lehane’s Kenzie and Gennaro, the landscape of crime and thriller fiction would be much poorer without Shutter Island and Live By Night. Standalones encourage experimentation. They allow writers to flex muscles they mightn’t have previously used. Alas, in the case of Ian Fleming’s The Spy Who Loved Me, the experiment is a failure – and one the author himself admits.

In principle, the theory behind The Spy Who Loved Me is sound; exciting, even, to have Bond analysed from another perspective. Because while there’s no question readers consider 007 a hero, the simple fact is, he is an instrument of death utilised by Her Majesty’s government. Bond will occasionally contemplate the morality of his actions, but the truth is, he assumes he is being used for good rather than evil, and merrily goes about the deadly business of espionage and, when called upon, assassination. In fiction, yes, he is a hero; but were we to meet such a man in person, if James Bond stood before us, what would we think of him? It’s an exciting question, and a solid premise for a thriller. Alas, it’s protagonist – Vivienne Michel – is merely a device used to showcase James Bond’s slaying of the men hunting her, rather than a full-fledged character.

It’s not that Fleming doesn’t attempt to establish her backstory – he does. Indeed, the first two portions of the novel detail Vivienne’s past love affairs and her long journey to the motel she has been entrusted to monitor for the night. But that’s just the problem – her history is seemingly comprised entirely of failed love affairs rather than anything substantial. She is a women defined by the men in her life, who finds herself threatened by two mobsters masquerading as insurance men, requiring the aid of another man – James Bond – to rescue her. Perhaps, had Fleming flipped the script and had Vivienne dispatch the men with her own wits, They Spy Who Loved Me might’ve been salvaged, or at least partially redeemed. Instead, it stands as a blueprint of how not to define women in fiction, a disappointing fissure in James Bond’s legacy.

ISBN: 9780099576969
Format: Paperback (198mm x 129mm x 15mm)
Pages: 240
Imprint: Vintage Classics
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 6-Sep-2012
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Review: Thunderball by Ian Fleming

Thunderball.jpgMemorable for introducing Ernst Stavro Blofeld as the head of SPECTRE – the organisation responsible for many of James Bond’s deadliest capers – Thunderball has the potential to be the secret agent’s most spectacular mission yet. But with its glacial opening chapters – interesting because Fleming shines the spotlight on Bond’s excessive lifestyle when he’s off-mission, and how this exorbitance affects his health and therefore his usefulness to the ’00 section,’ – Bond’s eighth adventure never gains any real momentum.

SPECTRE has hijacked two nuclear bombs from a fighter jet, a Villiers Vindicator, and plans to destroy two major cities unless a £100,000,000 ransom is paid. With the clock ticking, 007 is dispatched to the Bahamas to investigate, where, in tandem with faithful ally Felix Leiter, he encounters Emilio Largo and his mistress, Dominetta “Domino” Vitali, who is also the sister of dead pilot Giuseppe Petacchi.

Thunderball is by-the-numbers stuff, festooned with the requisite villainy, and peppered with fleetingly dramatic moments. If you’re happy to tread water for a while, the finale – an undersea battle between allied forces and SPECTRE – is on par with Fleming’s greatest action set-pieces. More impressive is Domino; not just a pretty face, a woman for Bond to bed and rescue. She gets to kick arse in the final pages, and it’s refreshing to see Fleming’s formula tweaked.

This isn’t a bad thriller, by any means; it’s just middle-of-the-pack stuff, particularly for a writer whose last full-length novel,Goldfinger, was one of his best. There’s entertainment to be had; just mind the potholes.

ISBN: 9780099576952
Format: Paperback
Pages: 368
Imprint: Vintage Classics
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 6-Sep-2012
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Review: For Your Eyes Only by Ian Fleming

For-Your-Eyes-Only-Cover.jpgThe five short stories presented in For Your Eyes Only are wonderful additions to 007 continuity. Rather than pitting James Bond against another megalomaniac psychopath with a penchant for destruction, these tales are smaller in scope, demonstrating to readers that not every case 007 is handed contorts into the stuff of fantasy: for every Goldfinger he topples, there is a smaller villain to terminate. And James Bond does his duty diligently every time he is called upon by Her Majesty.

Ian Fleming’s occasionally stilted prose is perfect for these quickly-digested short stories, and in fact he finds room for experimentation; a spin on the formula that had served him so well up until this point. There’s not a bad yarn in thus bunch, but it’s Quantum of Solace that deserves the most acclaim; a story that doesn’t have Bond get out of his chair! 007 is told the tale of a failed marriage; and just as the reader assumes Fleming is leading us down a well-trodden path, he offers an impactful, emotive twist, immediately making it the highlight. The Hildebrand Rarity ranks a close second; but here, Bond does indeed get his hands dirty, and bloody.

Though it’s an entertaining package, For Your Eyes Only doesn’t offer anything particularly memorable. With its smaller focus, none of the villains stand out, and there are none of the epic action set pieces or environments that make the Bond novels resonate. Having followed Goldfinger – one of Fleming’s best – one can’t help but feel a little disappointed. From a View to a Kill, For Your Eyes Only, Quantum of Solace, Risico and The Hildebrand Rarity are fine stories; but they’re gold scrapings amidst the lavish nuggets that are Fleming’s preceding novels.

ISBN: 9780099576945
Format: Paperback
Pages: 272
Imprint: Vintage Classics
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 6-Sep-2012
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Review: Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz

Trigger MortisWith Trigger Mortis, Anthony Horowitz has joined the prestigious league of writers who’ve succeeded Ian Fleming in writing about the exploits of British Secret Service agent 007. Like those before him, Horowitz has crafted a fine thriller that encapsulates the essential James Bond ingredients – the audacious plot, the rip-roaring pace, the maniacal villain(s), the exquisite women, the fast cars – but it lacks that special something, that secret Fleming Factor, which catapulted his secret agent into the stratosphere and made him one of the eminent characters of spy fiction. Alas, perhaps that Fleming Factor dissipated with the author’s untimely passing in 1964, lost to the ether, its precise reclamation impossible.Trigger Mortis, at least, has the right meat on its bones; it just hasn’t been cooked quite the same way. Still, it’s a tasty treat.

The 007 novels written by Kingsley Amis (writing as Robert Markham), John Gardner, Raymond Benson, Sebastian Faulks, William Boyd and Jeffery Deaver were all set, continuity-wise, in the years after Fleming’s death. Benson and Deaver in particular brought Bond into the present day, contemporising his world, for better or worse; my view has always been that Bond is a man of his time, and attempts to modernise him have served only to strip away his appeal. Trigger Mortis, however, is set between Fleming novels; its events occur mere weeks after Bond foiled Operation Grand Slam in Goldfinger, and features many references to past cases and characters. Fleming never shied away from mentioning Bond’s adventures of yesteryear in his novels, and it’s nice seeing Horowitz do the same. I was stunned one character in particular from Goldfingermakes more than just a cameo.

SMERSH is once again Bond’s opposition, and in this instance its face is Jason Sin, a survivor of the Korean War, whose nefarious scheme aims to decimate the United States’ space program and ensure supremacy for the Russians. Before that, there’s the small matter of SMERSH’s insane plot to eliminate a champion British Grand Prix racer, which sees Bond placed behind the wheel of a motorcar the likes of which he’s never experienced. And meanwhile, leftover forces from a previous case have targeted Bond for termination. Thankfully, Bond isn’t alone in his quest, and it’s great to see “Bond girl” Jeopardy Lane playing a role beyond femme fatale or hostage.

Fleming’s knack for nailing the details of place and time made his thrillers resonate. They are time capsules of the mid–fifties early sixties, and though Horowitz makes a grand effort to ground Trigger Mortis in 1957, it shows that the author himself didn’t live through these times; the details are there, but it’s textbook rather than nuanced. It doesn’t distract, but it does mean the narrative lacks that distinctive Fleming flavour. Of course, Horowitz is a masterful storyteller in his own right.Trigger Mortis is certainly layered with Fleming’s inflection, but it’s Horowitz’s interpretation rather than impersonation; there is a distinction, and the author has leaned the right way,

I tore through Trigger Mortis in a matter of hours, and loved every moment. Readers who’ve yet to sample Fleming’s work would be wise to sample Horowitz’s offering, then delve back into the original work. This is pure, undulated escapism. The stunts are crazy, the plots are implausible; and that’s precisely what James Bond is all about. Veteran Bond readers shouldn’t dismay that Fleming’s work has yet to be matched. It is an impossible task; he was a writer without equal. Instead, rejoice in the fact that this latest James Bond adventure perfectly captures why we love 007. Some brilliant writers have helmed 007 novels in recent years; most recently Sebastian Faulks, Jeffrey Deaver and William Boyd, a trio of which produced three solid, entertaining yarns. Horowitz has joined esteemed company, and he should be gleeful, for he has proven the best of them.

(So far…!)

ISBN: 9781409159537
Format: Paperback
Pages: 320
Imprint: Orion (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Publish Date: 8-Sep-2015
Country of Publication: United Kingdom