The birth of a legend; James Bond, shaken but not stirred.
Commissioned by Ian Fleming Publications, this is a James Bond prequel. There have been many contributions, by at least ten writers, to the 007 extended thriller list. Author John Gardner was the most prolific, as by 1996 he had fourteen novels as well as two novelizations from the films to his credit. American author Raymond Benson took up the mantle with six Bond novels, three novelizations and three short stories between 1996 and 2002.
For my money, Horovitz is surely the most authentic in the Fleming mould. His grip on the Bond reality as per Fleming is less flippant than some representations; especially as portrayed by most of the film productions which tend to colour the subsequent written character.
As befits a prequel, Bond is not the hardened operator in this rendition as he is later, and his receiving of the 007 license to kill qualification comes with at least some small anxiety. I really liked his sense of mortality as he accepts the horror of the possible consequences of the acid treatment the baddy hopes to administer when he gets Bond where he wants him.
The exotic, stunningly beautiful, and devious women, the powerful, hideously cruel adversaries and world-threatening situations are here all true to the Bond tradition.
My thanks to Penguin Random House, South Africa, for this review copy.
ISBN 978-1-911-21478-8. Jonathan Cape.