Trigger Mortis: A James Bond Novel Hardcover – 8 Sep 2015
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A humdinger of a Bond story, so cunningly crafted and thrillingly placed that OO7's creator would have been happy to own it.... The book is the best Bond movie you'll ever see without actually having to see the movie. (Simon Schama FINANCIAL TIMES)
TRIGGER MORTIS is a blast. Set two weeks after the end of the novel Goldfinger in 1957, it has a superb plot based around the early space race and features the return of the best Bond girl of them all, Pussy Galore. (MAIL ON SUNDAY)
Fleming fans certainly won't be disappointed. Trigger Mortis contains all the adrenaline you'd expect from a Bond novel with bags of humour, international jet-setting and a compelling cast of inventively named characters. It is, one suspects, a novel Fleming would be proud to have in the 007 canon. (SUNDAY EXPRESS)
Almost too good (EVENING STANDARD)
Horowitz is doing something both clever and audacious...a clever and enjoyable pastiche, which manages to press many of the buttons that were the purview of 007's creator. (INDEPENDENT)
There is a delicate line separating imitation from parody and Horowitz stays on the right side of it to perfection. (DAILY EXPRESS)
'Sexy, slick and full of suspense, this new Bond novel is perfect escapism.' (GRAZIA)
Anthony Horowitz knows exactly what ingredients are required to satisfy even the most gluttonous James Bond fan and serves them up with the confidence of the self-confessed aficionado that he is... In Trigger Mortis the reader finds set pieces expertly handled and genuinely exciting... it all makes for an energetic and satisfying read. (INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)
'This supremely well-crafted thriller is an expertly shaken martini of authentic flavours, right down to several heart-pounding set pieces that surely belong on the big screen. Women... are in the driving seat in more senses than one, while Bond is an alluring mix of emotional detachment and death-defying heroics. Pure Pleasure.' (METRO)
'Ultimately, Horowitz seems to me to have captured the spirit of Fleming more successfully than his recent illustrious predecessors in the Bond-sequel game.' (Jake Kerridge Daily Telegraph)
James Bond returns in this thrilling new adventure from Anthony Horowitz - with original material by Ian Fleming.See all Product description
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The legacy of Fleming and Bond continues in the films. The fact that Fleming's heirs have commissioned a large number of books, by various writers, does attest to something that remains. There is a thirst for "things Bond," attesting to the fact that there is something mythic about the character. Of the books written by other authors, none for me quite captures exactly the flavour and style of the originals. But equally none to my mind lets it down, as is the case here.
In reading this novel there is some material from Fleming that the author, Anthony Horrowitz, has had access to, as he explains in an afterword. This turns out to be a plot Fleming made a draft of for a TV series about Bond which never surfaced. It thus is of interest in this novel to see it used. It also adds a degree of continuity between these sequels and the originals. This is also added as the author has placed the action in the nineteen fifties when the original novels were written. It also takes place soon after the events described in Fleming's Goldfinger. There are a few follow ups from that adventure, not least the appearance of the character Pussy Galore. We are offered a possible example of how Bond's relationships with women ends- a subject by and large not touched upon by Fleming.
It is here where perhaps I see the follow up working less well. Horrowitz is successful in the characters of Bond, M, the main villain and others, but less successful with Pussy. There is an attempt to make Bond's attitude to women slightly more in tune with contemporary values. But again some of this lack's Fleming's insouciance even if some nowadays find it less acceptable (and it wasn't necessarily the norm in the fifties either), and I'm not sure this is completely successful.
These quibbles may just be because Horrowitz is writing in another author's shoes. There are many successes here also. "Trigger Mortis" is a pacy read with a convincing villain and plenty of the fast paced action of the originals, and a convincing plot in Bondian terms (though it does have some echoes of the villain's plans in "Moonraker" and "Dr No"). This is one of the bigger successes of attempts to write new Bond. Bond lovers will surely enjoy this.
On a surface level it's not badly written. It wouldn't put me off buying more at a daily deal price. It just doesn't fire me up to race through the writer's back catalogue at top dollar.
For me the real problem, as with the Holmes pastiche, is understanding that there's a joke but not quite getting it.
The writing is about on par with the imitation of Conan Doyle in the writer's Holmes books. It's not amazing, and it's easy to find other writers who have done the same trick as well or better. It's loaded with Ian Fleming's trademark brand snobbery and the one clever trick is presenting the original writer's casual, out of date attitude to women through Bond's internal monologue.
As with the Holmes books there are a couple of modern day elements the writer can't resist folding in, that end up splitting the mixture. The more empowered female sidekick comes with the times. There's also a bolt on appearance of an arbitrary gay character that isn't much more than a fourth wall break to criticise the bad old days.
The heavy clunkers come at the end.
There's a difference between knowing about the trope of the villain's monologue, and applying it with the right light touch of nod and wink. Two chapters of reported speech info dumping his life story and plan isn't it.
There's also a valiant attempt to describing a very extended Speed style movie set piece that's a worked example of how they don't really work on the page.
I'm not saying avoid this. There's a whole nineties catalogue of far worse Bond novels. Just pitch your expectations at the right level.
Coming hot on the heals of Goldfinger, Bond is living with Pussy Galore in London, working 9-5 (or thereabouts). However, he is soon thrust into a new case involving SMERSH, and it involves car racing. Having learned to drive an F1 car in a staggeringly short time, Bond heads of to race a Russian agent and foil another poorly conceived plot for world domination.
Not a terrible book, but not up their with the real Bond classics