A new Anthony Horowitz Bond novel...



  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,925MI6 Agent

    I forgot about that SPECTRE poster, thats even closer, definitely. Whoever designed this latest book cover might just be trying to remind potential purchasers of the films...

    I see the bird's head now! I wonder if that means something? maybe the kling-klings from ...Golden Gun left behind an orphaned baby kling-kling who teams up with Bond for future missions? probably sits on his shoulder and makes the quips that literary Bond doesn't usually get to make himself. Thats definitely a twist the filmmakers havent thought of yet.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,925MI6 Agent
    edited December 2021

    theres an interview on the Daily Express website where Horowitz gives a few more spoilers (including something else we've already seen in the movies...), and talks about Sherlock Holmes and Tintin!

    Its a long interview, and not all of it is about the bond books. Perhaps I should just copy and paste the Bond-related content in case someone cant reach it or the page disappears? let me know if this is a bad idea, and I'll remove it

    An outsider like Bond - Anthony Horowitz talks childhood, family, and inspiration

    With A Mind To Kill will be published on May 26

    As the title and set-up of his third (and final) 007 novel are unveiled ahead of publication next year, the prolific Anthony Horowitz muses on his solitary childhood, the impact of his father's early death and how writing saved him


    15:44, Thu, Dec 16, 2021 | UPDATED: 15:44, Thu, Dec 16, 2021

    ANTHONY Horowitz pauses for a long moment when I suggest his lifelong admiration, obsession even, with James Bond, Sherlock Holmes and Tintin, three characters who have cropped up time and again during his fabulously successful career, might be rooted deep in his psyche.


    "What appeals about Bond and Holmes and Tintin is that they're not grounded exactly. They're always outsiders and maybe that's what I feel - that's the connection."


    All of which segues perfectly into the dramatic opening of his latest - and, sadly, last - Bond novel...

    ... With A MindTo Kill: a quite brilliant set-piece at M's funeral with one man missing from the graveside: the traitor, now in custody and accused of the intelligence chief's murder - 007 himself.

    We are talking in the early autumn and the author, fit and tanned and far belying his 66 years, is limited in what he can reveal about his new Bond. He is the fourth author in recent years to be invited by Fleming's estate to write an authorised Bond novel and the only recent novelist to do more than one.

    As his lockdown-bought Labrador retriever Chase snuffles around our feet - "All my life I've had dogs, the one aphorism I hope to be remembered for is 'a dog is a mistake you never regret'" - he can say: "I promise you there will be some great surprises... but Bond is a world in which you can get into trouble all too easily if you say the wrong thing.

    "It's a minefield! Ask me what my favourite Bond film is and I'll tell you I like them all equally. But I wanted a sense of trilogy in my books: my first, Trigger Mortis, was set during the middle of Bond's career, the second, Forever And A Day, at the start, and the new one is the end."

    Does that mean With A Mind To Kill - "In a mission where treachery is all around and one false move means death, Bond must grapple with the darkest questions about himself," promises the appetite-whetting blurb - features the threat of retirement? "It's just that. It's a very different book in tone to the first two. The truth is it's difficult to think up ideas that are better than Fleming's. But if you move the goalposts and come up with a fresh territory then there's a whole new ground to explore.

    "So this is a more psychological Bond, it's darker, and the early reactions have been great. I'm really excited about it and proud the estate has come back to me to do two more. It's genuinely been a labour of love; Bond has been so important to me."

    It was this love that helped inspire Anthony's Alex Rider series, returning to Amazon Prime in the New Year for a second series with Otto Farrant as the teenage MI6 recruit (think young Bond) and Toby Stephens as baddie Damian Cray, and produced by his wife Jill. Fleming, says Anthony, has always been under-estimated." Apart from the fact Bond himself is such an extraordinarily original construct, and his world is so well done, they are written in a way that makes you feel sweat come to the palms of your hands.

    "My favourite scenes are those with M which are always so full of need and want and loyalty and devotion." M, being the proverbial father Bond never had, he laughs: "I always loved those scenes more than any other, make of that what you will.

    "There's a knife fight in the book I've just finished and, as I wrote it, all I thought was: 'How would Fleming write this? Would the camera be on the ceiling looking down at these two small figures facing off, or would it be inside Bond's head looking out?

    "One of the joys of writing the third book was that I was intuitively inside Fleming's mind and how he would write. Maybe I'm being too boastful, the book isn't out yet!"


    "When I was younger I was concerned, 'Was it reasonable to write entertainments?' Both Conan Doyle and Fleming were a little ashamed of their characters," he adds.

    "Fleming called Bond his 'children's books' and Doyle wanted to write historical novels. I used to think, 'Don't overclaim, don't try and pretend you're a great writer, you're not, you're an entertainer.' But as I've got older I've realised that's what I was meant to be: I write them as well as I can, I write them intelligently, I write them honestly... then I hope for the best." 


    EDIT: given that spoiler, Colonel Sun could not possibly happen in the Horowitz-verse

  • RevelatorRevelator Posts: 573MI6 Agent

    With a Mind to Kill sounds like another product of the James Bond Title Generator (fun party game: come up with a Bond title that doesn’t involve “Kill” or “Die”), but the premise sounds intriguing. The idea of Bond being framed for M’s murder was also explored in the early treatments for the film of Octopussy, though I doubt they were an influence on Horowitz.

    After You Only Live Twice Kingsley Amis speculated that the next Bond novel would involve “capture by the KGB, questionings and torturings and brainwashings, break-out (aided probably by some beautiful firm-breasted female major of the Foreign Intelligence Directorate), the slaying of Colonel-General Grubozaboyschikov of SMERSH, and perhaps of Lieutenant-General Vozdvishensky of RUMID for good measure, in revenge for what happened on the Orient Express in 1957, and final escape over the Wall.”

    Though Fleming failed to deliver this, it sounds like Horowitz might, to some extent.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,691MI6 Agent

    I think it's a really exciting premise for a Bond sequel novel, I'm really looking forward to it.

    Yes, the title sounds like a Bond title; but that's also a good thing- it sounds like an actual Bond title!

  • Mr MalloryMr Mallory North by northwestPosts: 632MI6 Agent
    edited December 2021

    Must have taken him ages to come up with a title.

    What makes you think this is my first time?
  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,746MI6 Agent

    I think your guess seems both reasonable and intreaging. The title is uninspired. Some of the earlier continuation novels were lesser novels than Horowitz' efforts, but occationally had better titles such as "Devio may care". In my opinion Horowitz' Bond novels have been the best since Colonel Sun.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,691MI6 Agent

    The title does sound very relevant to the content though.

  • Shady TreeShady Tree London, UKPosts: 2,966MI6 Agent

    Title and cover design are undoubtedtly put together to signal 'Bond' to the casual shopper, and who can blame the author/ publisher for wanting to market the book hard. Given this novel's place in the literary timeline of Fleming's Bond (end-on to 'The Man With The Golden Gun'), with a return to Russia and involvement with a Russian psychiatrist, there's a good chance that - also like NTTD - it will have an introspective sense of an 'end game' about it. I've been very pleased with Horowitz's Bond novels thus far and am looking forward to this entry.

    Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 53 years.
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 10,262MI6 Agent
    edited December 2021

    True, but that sums up the difference between Fleming's source material and recent efforts. As someone pointed out on another thread about Craig, CR stands out because it is Fleming (I think Barbel said this). No reason why other writers can't emulate this but they don't. Fleming would take it where he wanted. Faberge eggs in Octopussy! No reason for it, no new writer would have that or an auction scene but they did it because it's in Fleming so kind of had to, unless doing a total Moonraker-style rewrite.

    Modern writers tend to emulate what they've seen before and are reluctant to venture into pastures new - perhaps for fear of risking and failing.

    So we have a title that jumps out as 'Bond' and that's okay but it's nothing new.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,925MI6 Agent

    good point, At least half of what Fleming wrote a continuation author would not dare because its so far outside the formula, not even Casino Royale itself, and certainly not OHMSS or YOLT. Did any continuation author write a novel where Bond does not show up until halfway through? because Fleming wrote two, as well as two short stories where Bond just listens to someone else tell an unrelated story in flashback.

    this sort of relates to our debates about No Time to Die. Is it EON's place to tell such a radical variation of the fantasy?

    I know most of you will not have a chance to read Licence Expired: The Unauthorized James Bond, but good or bad, part of the fun of those unauthorised stories is the freedom the authors have to tell stories very different from what would normally be allowed.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,691MI6 Agent

    I'm not sure you can say that the problem with continuation authors is that they stick to the formula too much, and then criticise EON because they told a radical variation of the fantasy. Or is that your point?

    Let's face it, if a new author told such a silly story as Bond having to try and gamble a baddie to death at the casino table, he'd probably be derided by the fans for telling a ridiculous story! 😁

    The Grand Prix driving bits in Trigger Mortis don't really make sense (the Russians want a propaganda victory? That's pretty thin stuff) but it's okay because it's Fleming.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,925MI6 Agent

    emtiem said:

    I'm not sure you can say that the problem with continuation authors is that they stick to the formula too much, and then criticise EON because they told a radical variation of the fantasy. Or is that your point?

    I'm feeling wishywashy today, I can see both sides of the argument. Its actually a bit of a paradox. But might as well offer both points of view for discussion, see what other folks feel about the question.

    Horowitz might do something more radical with this new story, since its set after the end of Fleming's timeline. Hopefully its not too much like the radical twist in the new film, just cuz a similar twist would be unoriginal at this time. maybe something equally radical but completely different?

  • Shady TreeShady Tree London, UKPosts: 2,966MI6 Agent
    edited January 2022

    SPOILER (NTTD-related)

    Fleming leans repeatedly into the idea of death and Bond's mortal vulnerability, recharging 007 annually only to keep the British end up, indulge his journalistic interests in a fictional context and please the reading public. Given the currents of morbidity with which Fleming consistently matches Bond's appetite for wordly pleasure, Horowitz, writing end-on to 'The Man With The Golden Gun', has all the thematic legacy he'd need to pull off convincingly a variant of NTTD's radical ending as a conclusive end point to his expansion of the original line of novels. In the absence of an NTTD novelisation to crowd the market place, he has a clear shot at it.

    But if that's not the direction that Horowitz takes, it would be really cool to see someone else novelise all the Craig Bonds as a linked series of books, starting with CR and in the style of Fleming but - obviously - in a different continuity to Fleming. (We had a 'James Bond In Moonraker' - by Christopher Wood - so why not a 'James Bond In Casino Royale'? I'd dearly love to read a great novelisation of QOS, to rehabilitate that story; a series of books which better lays the ground for the retconning of the SP instalment, and a deeply textured novelisation of NTTD.)

    Another publishing development I'd welcome, further along, is a reissue of the Fleming novels and short stories in a paperback line which includes the three Horowitz titles as well, assimilating them through a new 'house style' of jacket design which unites a whole range of 17 books. Horowitz would be worthy of such an honour, imho, given the quality of his Bonds thus far.

    Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 53 years.
  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,746MI6 Agent

    I agree on both ideas. I'd also like to see a series of James Bond books in the Fleming timeline set in WWII.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,925MI6 Agent

    emtiem said:

    I'm not sure you can say that the problem with continuation authors is that they stick to the formula too much, and then criticise EON because they told a radical variation of the fantasy. Or is that your point?

    ...having thought about this question some more: if I have a problem with the Craig films (and I have a few), EON's willingness to tell new stories that deviate so far from the formula is not one of those problems. This new film was the one I enjoyed most since Casino Royale, and I think some of the controversial plot choices we've been arguing about are natural extrapolations of the Fleming fantasy that were worth exploring for sake of new story material. Otherwise why keep making new films when the old good films are still so easy to find?

    in that sense the Brosnan films were more problematic, in that they each started to tell stories with new twists then shied away to instead repeat familiar scenes with updated action and special effects.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,691MI6 Agent

    Yes, I know I wasn't alone in hoping that Higson would continue as James grew up and push into War Bond.

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 10,262MI6 Agent

    I think that Fleming, being a journalist and also travel journalist, tended to bring that into his books as a backdrop, so his observations about scenery and set-ups would make for a different flavour to the yarn. This was reflected in the films, as the second one avoided being 'Dr No 2' about No's vengeful brother with another island in the same area, they had to break the mold with each film. Other authors tend to get into the area of 'gimmicks' as @Barbel might say going by his critque of No Time To Die and its main plot points. Amis' Bond sees M kidnapped, for instance - it's a wowser opening but a bit unhappy as it hangs over the narrative, it's depressing imo and doesn't feel like Bond. My other gripe is that recent authors just don't seem to like the whole imperialism of the time and wind up having a pop at our hero and his situation - that's fine, and I'm inclined to agree but I don't want that for a Bond book. What it lacks - and these period pieces especially - is the sense that the author is eager to share with the reader some latest find he's uncovered, they lack that urgency. That said, I never took to stuff like Jeffery Deaver's modernisation (though I read it start to finish one summer) so I'm a bundle of laughs, aint I?

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,691MI6 Agent
    edited January 2022

    I’m not sure where you draw the line with ‘gimmicks’ though: pretty much all of Fleming’s books can be described in “it’s the one with the…” terms. You say gimmicks where I’m sure a lot of writers would say ‘plot’.

  • RevelatorRevelator Posts: 573MI6 Agent
    edited May 2022

    A new interview with Horowitz in the Times (the title isn't quite true).

    There are some very minor spoilers regarding the premise of the book. I don't feel they're major enough to warrant tags, but if others feel differently let me know


    Anthony Horowitz: Fleming wasn’t sexist and nor is James Bond

    The writer talks to Alex O’Connell about his new 007 book, why killing off the spy was wrong — and the truth about Bond girl

    By Alex O’Connell (The Times, May 11)

    You know there’s been a huge geopolitical shift when, in 2022, a Russian psychopath is the baddie of choice in a new James Bond novel

    Anthony Horowitz, 67, licensed to write new stories about 007 by the Fleming estate following books by Sebastian Faulks, Jeffery Deaver and William Boyd, has hit a timely nerve with the third in his trilogy of Bond novels

    Trigger Mortis focused on 007’s mid-career; Forever and a Day on his beginnings. The new one, With a Mind to Kill, published later this month, is positioned at the end of James Bond’s working life, where Fleming’s final, 1965 novel The Man with the Golden Gun (finished with a little help from Kingsley Amis) ended

    Horowitz’s new story begins with a funeral. After a botched attempt to kill M by a brainwashed 007 in Golden Gun, M’s “burial” is now arranged and faked to fool the Russians, allowing Bond, who has now got his patriotic senses back, to go back behind the Iron Curtain to collect intelligence

    Bond must ingratiate himself with evil Colonel Boris, an expert in mind control with a place called “the magic room” in his lair, where 007 has already endured isolation, psychedelic drugs and torture

    If Boris can be made to believe Bond’s mind is still washed, that he is still on his side, 007 can discover the details of Russia’s dastardly plot to destroy the West. Colonel Boris, a walk-on character in Golden Gun, dazzles in Horowitz’s hands, with his odd-coloured eyes and his cold, beautiful clinical psychiatrist sidekick, Katya

    “It is sort of scary, how it reflects the age we’re living in, the publishers are quite nervous about that,” Horowitz frets. We are talking in an office block in Clerkenwell in central London, where his wife, the TV producer Jill Green, whom he met while making his much-loved drama Foyle’s War, works. Horowitz has no city base at present while they renovate a house in Richmond. He apologises for the presence of his young black labrador who has accompanied him to town from their home in Suffolk

    “I wrote it long before the invasion [of Ukraine] began. And I’m just aware that I don’t want to be, as it were, promoting it on the back of what’s happening. It’s difficult, but it is timely, that’s for sure,” he says

    He goes on to say that one of his favourite Bond novels, From Russia with Love, starts with a chapter in which the Russians debate which country they wish to destroy. “They talk about doing the Israeli Secret Service, the Americans and the French . . . but it’s the British that they really hate because the British are so good.

    Horowitz — who looks like an American film producer in a baseball cap, crumpled linen jacket and T-shirt — has three books coming out this year: a pile-up due to Covid delays. Where Seagulls Dare, the latest in his Diamond Brothers children’s series in June; The Twist of a Knife, the fourth of his “metafiction” Hawthorne detective novels in August — and, first up, the new Bond

    Colonel Boris, with whom he has always had a fascination, was the key to its success. He appears at the beginning of Golden Gun and is also mentioned, in passing, in From Russia with Love. “So then you’ve got a sort of a James Bond villain created by Ian Fleming, who has never been seen or has never spoken. And that was just too good an opportunity. So that immediately dictated not only when the book would be set, but where it would be set, because obviously it had to go back to Russia.

    Horowitz, who found fame with the Alex Rider series about a teenage spy and the TV series Midsomer Murders, has worked with many literary estates: Agatha Christie’s, Tintin/Hergé’s and Conan Doyle’s. “The Fleming estate was just great,” he says. That’s not to say they haven’t had debates. “When I did Trigger Mortis, they were uneasy about the idea of bringing back Pussy Galore

    “And my favourite discussion was about what Bond wears in bed. I said he slept naked and they said, ‘No, he doesn’t!’ They said he should wear a bed jacket,” Horowitz says, laughing. “So I looked at what a bed jacket is and it’s a pyjama top that comes from your neck down to your knees. I thought: ‘how to make Bond completely non-sexy in two words’. I just got around that.

    One issue with placing the book in Cold War Russia was the drabness of the setting. Bond requires glamour, and Horowitz, who had visited the Soviet Union in the 1970s, struggled to find it. Even Sixties London threatened to be grey. “When Bond is captured at the beginning of the book, after having tried to kill M, I was thinking of sending him to Wormwood Scrubs.” He was inspired by the incarceration of the spy George Blake there. “But it’s also grim and shabby and unpleasant and I thought, ‘Put Bond into prison? Really?’

    In the end he found colour in a thrilling action scene at the Berlin State Opera and in a fancy restaurant where Katya takes Bond. Katya is an excellent Bond girl and Horowitz does not hold back in his descriptions of her, including the line: “Bond found himself assessing the shape of her bottom. It was a very pretty one.

    Faulks has said that nowadays he feels unable to describe women physically in his fiction for fear of objectifying them. Horowitz has no such reservations. He sighs

    “Fleming has a fixation with women’s bottoms. I’m ventriloquising Fleming. I’m not writing my own view of women. I don’t write sex scenes in any of my books.” He pauses. “Maybe in Magpie Murders,” he corrects himself, referring to his detective novel that his wife has recently made into a TV series starring Lesley Manville

    “I think all of Bond’s women are very underrated,” he adds. “I mean, people often talk about Fleming being a sexist writer and Bond being a sexist character. But that’s not actually true. Most of the women in the Bond novels are extremely intelligent and independent. And yes, they do go weak at the knees when Bond walks into the room. But, nonetheless, they hold their own against him,” he says

    In fact, Bond almost didn’t hold his own against anyone. There was a point at which Horowitz considered whether James should die in this story. “I thought: should I ask the estate for permission to kill Bond? Maybe in a plane that is plunging into the sea or into the ground.

    He chickened out. After his death in the last film, No Time to Die, can you have Bond dying differently, on-screen and in print, I wonder? “I never refer to the films. I don’t include information or even lines from the films.” He says he hadn’t even seen No Time to Die when he was writing this book. “I didn’t do it because, first of all, I think it would be impertinent of me to kill a character that I hadn’t created, and secondly Bond shouldn’t die, Bond is for ever.

    He also feels a duty to stay true to Fleming; but haven’t the films scotched that as well? “Their job is to reflect the period in which they are made,” he says carefully. So was it right to knock him off? “I was sad they did. But it was their decision. I wouldn’t have done it. But that’s only because . . . I just think that Bond belongs to everybody.

    When I ask who should follow Daniel Craig he looks downcast. “I don’t know how they will have a new Bond since they killed him . . . And the ownership has changed.” In March, Amazon bought MGM Holdings, the studio that makes the Bond films, for almost $9 billion. The Fleming estate only controls the rights to the books

    “Will they go back to the beginning and start remaking From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Dr No, as a television series?” Probably. It’s already been announced that Prime Video is making a TV show, 007’s Road to a Million, a Bond-style take on a race around the world, which will shoot later this year

    I wonder what he makes of talk of a female Bond. “I have no animus against a female Bond, although I would much rather someone made Modesty Blaise,” he says. He is referring to the heroine of Peter O’Donnell’s comic books that were made into a pretty terrible film in 1966, starring Monica Vitti

    “They destroyed the franchise in one,” he says. He tells me of a rumour suggesting that the director Quentin Tarantino optioned the books and, when the rights were about to run out, made a low-budget film, never released, to retain them for a future project

    Talking to him you get a sense of what a comfort Bond is. Horowitz had a sad childhood. The son of Mark Horowitz, a wealthy businessman and fixer to the Labour prime minister Harold Wilson, he lived with his siblings and servants in the grand estate White Friars in Harrow in Middlesex. As a child he was packed off to boarding school, Orley Farm in Middlesex and then Rugby

    At prep school, the Bond books gave him everything his life didn’t have. “Sunshine, beautiful women, good food, travel, freedom, adventure, escape. I was ten when Dr No came out,” he says. He still has those paperbacks with his mother’s autograph inside each next to his own ten-year-old signature (she had to sign them to show he was allowed to read them). “They were the only colour I remember in my life at the time and when I write them now they have the same sense of a lifeline.

    Today he is lithe, what some might call a silver fox. Then, he was overweight and ridiculed. “I was a kid who had no talent at all and was repeatedly told so, and that I was ugly, fat and stupid. Prep schools then had a very good way of getting into your mind and completely destroying you. Then I discovered I did have a talent for telling stories.

    Later his life turned into its own tall tale. When Horowitz was in his twenties and his father died of cancer he realised that the old man had been living a lie. He has said that the bills came in, but there was no money to pay them. The family fortune had disappeared mysteriously and, eventually, the family estate was lost

    Horowitz’s sons have not had to endure such ordeals. His and Green’s successes have helped to refill the family’s coffers. Nicholas, 33, and Cassian, 31, who works as a social media guru for the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, are thriving

    The siblings co-founded the Clerkenwell Brothers, a creative agency. I ask him whether he and Cassian share political allegiances. Horowitz says he never talks about politics with Cass but that, as he said in a diary in The Spectator last week, he’s had enough of it all. “This spiral of deceit and decay, I don’t see any way out of it.” he says. “I think we are stuck with Johnson. He’s the worst PM, easily, in my lifetime.

    I wonder why he hasn’t written a memoir: wouldn’t he like to consider that lifetime and join his own dots? “Everything about my childhood is incomplete,” he says, sighing. “Why did my parents send me to this wretched school? What was my father’s work? Why was I pretending to be a motorbike dispatch rider delivering vast quantities of money to offices around London for him

    “There is almost a war between me and my childhood. I don’t really think about it ever.” He effects the sort of pause that would make one of Pinter’s feel snappy. “I see it from time to time. Life for me is getting through and not dwelling. My own life is much less interesting than Bond’s.” I wouldn’t be so sure

    With a Mind to Kill is published by Jonathan Cape on May 26 at £20.

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,154Chief of Staff

    I've had to skim through that very carefully to avoid spoilers- will reply more fully once I've read the book.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,221MI6 Agent

    Yeh, it's a Horowitz book, it'll feel like a Bond but it'll miss the Master's attention to things and places and people, bland as a BBC podcast ( sorry, I am bizarrely watching a BBC podcast)

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,925MI6 Agent

    thanks @Revelator

    I like that Horowitz is extrapolating from the clues given in the first chapters of Man with the Golden Gun

    but I wonder, how does Colonel Boris not know that Bond killed Scaramanga and the Soviet collaborators in Jamaica?

  • Red_SnowRed_Snow Posts: 296MI6 Agent

    Review from The Times:

    ** Contains spoilers

    With a Mind to Kill by Anthony Horowitz review — James Bond takes on the Steel Claw

    There can be no more dangerous literary assignment than writing a new James Bond novel. With a Mind to Kill is Anthony Horowitz’s third such mission, so he’s not faint of heart. Yet while many fantasise about being 007, few would want to weather the judgments that come with taking charge of Ian Fleming’s national icon.

    Horowitz, the creator of Alex Rider and Foyle’s War for television, cleverly circumvented comparisons in his previous adventure, Forever and a Day, published in 2018, by imagining Bond at the start of his career in espionage. That gave him a relatively blank canvas with which to work and he amused himself establishing the character and the origin of his trademarks.

    With a Mind to Kill has a similarly bold set-up, but this time we have old Bond rather than young Bond. It envisions a weary 007, the one from the end of Fleming’s final novel, The Man with the Golden Gun, which was published posthumously in 1965. That novel’s plot had the secret agent brainwashed by the Russians into trying to kill M, his boss, before redeeming himself by taking out Scaramanga.

    Following straight on from this, Horowitz has Bond pretending that he succeeded in shooting M, for whom a fake funeral is staged. The plan is for 007 to “escape” to Moscow, like the real-life traitor George Blake. There he is to fool the psychiatrist who broke him, the ice-cold Colonel Boris, into thinking Bond is still under his control and discover the aims of Steel Claw, a successor organisation to Smersh.

    Bond in the USSR is a neat conceit, but it’s not an escapist one. Although some of the quite short novel takes place in a swish hotel, shabby Moscow in the 1960s has little of the glamour that distinguishes the character (and not just in the films) from what George Lazenby might have termed “the other guys”. Instead, much of the action boils down to a duel between Boris and Bond, often taking place in the latter’s head, which is a different kind of thriller.

    Horowitz is faithful to Fleming’s conception of 007, albeit pared of some of Bond’s toxic masculinity for modern sensibilities. The homages are all there — betrayal, a comely female psychologist, a brutal fight in a metro station. Horowitz, though, is more interested in contemplating an older Bond filling up with accidie, wondering what it’s all for. That moral equivalence is what led to the greater realism of ripostes to Bond such as John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, to which Horowitz gives a nod in a climax set in East Berlin. However, disillusioned, self-aware 007 isn’t that much fun. It’s a legitimate extension of the character of the novels, but it’s Horowitz’s misfortune as much as it was Fleming’s luck, in terms of his legacy, that the latter died before he could mature, and potentially wreck, his creation.

    As with James Dean, Bond’s appeal is rooted in his not ageing, in a self-possession and self-regard that is not blunted by experience. He’s the eternally cool hero for eternal adolescents. Skilfully though Horowitz writes, and exciting as it often is to be in the company of his Bond, the version that remains inviolate is the one forged by our imaginations. The word is not enough.

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  • Shady TreeShady Tree London, UKPosts: 2,966MI6 Agent

    These previews are helpful as now I've decided to read 'With A Mind To Kill' back-to-back with 'The Man With The Golden Gun'.

    Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 53 years.
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 8,660MI6 Agent

    Just thought I'd share a screenshot of the accompanying list of The Times reviewer's pick of the best five Bond continuation novels.

    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,221MI6 Agent

    @Silhouette Man oh, dear, these lists.... I agree with the first three - and I know that would make me unpopular with a lot of observers re: Carte Blanche, and to be fair even that has massive faults - the Boyd and Horowitz editions I'd replace with The Authorised Biography and Icebreaker.

  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 8,660MI6 Agent
    edited May 2022

    Yes, I agree. I think they're more an exercise in seeing most of the Bond continuation authors get a look-in than a serious list of the best continuation novels. That's what we've come to expect from the national media I suppose. I also agree that Icebreaker is an excellent Bond novel.

    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,746MI6 Agent

    In my opinion Horowitz is the best Bond actor since Kinsley Amos, so I'm eagerly looking forward to reading "With a mind to kill". 😃

  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 8,660MI6 Agent

    Kingsley Amis is certainly the benchmark man when it comes to Bond continuation authors. Ian Fleming himself is probably unassailable but even aiming for Amis's success rate with Colonel Sun would be difficult enough on its own.

    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • Golrush007Golrush007 South AfricaPosts: 3,418Quartermasters

    Lucky for me TMWTGG was the last Bond novel I read, just a few months ago so it's fairly fresh in my mind. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on With a Mind to Kill.

    I personally don't really go into a continuation novel with massive expectations, just rather looking for another chance to indulge in a new Bond story. Occasionally they surprise me and I have a truly thrilling experience, but most often (and both of Horowitz's previous efforts fall into this category) I just find them an enjoyable but not spectacular read. If I have any expectations from this new novel, it is that it would be another one of those, and as long as Horowitz hasn't completely dropped the ball I'll be satisfied.

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