- 26 Sep 18
James Bond Earns His Stripes
“007 is dead.” – the perfect opening sentence with which to draw you into the latest James Bond adventure, Horowitz’s second run at the secret agent, after 2015’s marvellously monikered Trigger Mortis. Surprisingly enough, Bond manages to survive past the first page of this prequel to Ian Fleming’s debut novel, Casino Royale (the previous book having followed on from the events of Goldfinger) to play out what superhero movie fans might refer to as an "origin story".
After dispatching a war criminal in Stockholm, our man is promoted to the Double-O section and packed off to Marseille on his first licensed mission. There are fast cars, punch-ups, an almost cartoonishly obese drug-dealing bad guy called Scipio - who's not above gloating and explaining everything to Bond, rather than killing him while he has the chance, just like every other future villain in the franchise - a shady lady codenamed Sixtine who is definitely not the usual clichéd 'Bond girl', recurring characters like M and Miss Moneypenny, a casino, and a luxury yacht, because you’d be right to look for your money back were any of these elements missing.
Original Fleming material - a proposal for a tv show that never was, apparently - is incorporated, helping Horowitz deliver the harder, borderline misogynistic Bond of the original iconic novels, rather than the more gadget-centric celluloid incarnation. Think of the steely-eyed, put-the-boot-in glare of Connery, or Craig, rather than the dancing eyebrows of Roger Moore, and be prepared to suspend your modern, politically correct sensibilities. As with his two Sherlock Holmes novels, Horowitz proves himself so adept at getting inside the iconic character, and Fleming’s writing style, that it’s difficult to see the join. Rip-roaringly recommended.