Yes, it certainly has its advantages. I came along in the same year as John Gardner's Role of Honour was published. I started collecting Bond books in 1995 when I found my first Fleming novels (DN and YOLT) and the first two Gardner novels secondhand. In fact the only Gardner Bond novel I ever found new was the Coronet paperback of Never Send Flowers in 1998. It remains one of my favourites from the continuation novels and I've been lucky enough to pick up the last three Fleming Bonds in first edition thus far.
Nice set indeed…and GoldenEye & Cold have appreciated somewhat in value 😏
I’m still waiting for my copy of With A Mind To Kill yet…I’ve two different copies on order, but I’m in no rush 🙂
I am at a serious disadvantage there, as I only started buying new Bond books with Devil May Care.
However, I've managed to acquire very nice Jonathan Cape hardbacks of the first 5 Gardner novels. Still hoping to stumble across the later ones on my travels through used book shops. My local library had Seafire and Cold in hardback when I was a kid. I wish I'd pinched them! I've never come across any of the Bensons in hardback in South Africa.
As for the new book, I've got it on order but it will probably be 3 weeks or so before I get it. Unfortunately new books rarely come out in hardback form here, so I'm always having to order new books from abroad because I do try and stick to hardcovers when buying new fiction by my favourite authors.
can folks with the Special Edition tell us anything about Bond Goes To Jail? plot or format? how many pages?
I hope this rarity "circulates" online, I still havent seen the Fleming bonus content from the last book. These Editions do not show up in Canadian bookstores, its annoying theres actual newly released Fleming materiel but most of the word does not have a chance to see it.
Finished With a Mind to Kill. Really enjoyed it. Probably my favorite of the Horowitz Bonds. It felt to me like an ending to the series that Fleming might’ve written.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I would like to see IFP return to a contemporary setting for the next book. I think this book gives them a nice opening to do that. Not sure what more can be said for vintage Bond.
I’ve just finished reading With a Mind to Kill, and I found it a really enjoyable, fast-paced read. My thoughts below...I don't think there's really anything that I'd call a spoiler in my review, but I suppose it's worth cautioning all the same in case you don't want to know anything about the plot.
- - -
Following on from the events of TMWTGG, M’s death is faked and Bond is sent back to the USSR in a ruse where British intelligence hope to use Bond - supposedly still brainwashed - to uncover and foil the plans of a new Russian organisation known as Stalnaya Ruka. Bond being sent over to the other side had slight echoes of The Spy Who Came in From The Cold to me - even reinforced by the presence of a Stasi character called Mundt in the book. There are also some returning characters from the Fleming works, such as General Grubozaboyshikov, whose mouthful of a name I have always loved. I think Horowitz does quite a good job of capturing some of Fleming's knack for vivid description, especially with short, but very visual sentences…such as early on where he describes the way that a Russian spy speaks with bulbous lips and words spat out like grape pips. There was also a description of dawn in London that I found particularly evocative.
The novel is structured in 3 parts, named for the locations where each of these is set. London, Moscow and Berlin. The London section has quite an action scene that takes place around Tower Bridge, and on the Thames. I found this an exciting way to lead us into the next section of the novel, where things move behind the iron curtain. And Horowitz uses the transition between the parts to quickly move us from point A to point B.
The main antagonist is Colonel Boris, the same person who brainwashed Bond previously. I found him quite an interesting character to explore in this novel. One of his quirks is he uses a scented inhaler quite frequently. I liked the descriptions of this, like the very breath coming from his mouth needs to have its foulness hidden by a fragrance. I think it was Roger Moore who said that he always imagined the Bond villains having halitosis and that influenced the way he responded to them in scenes. I thought that was a nice touch.
Horowitz also does quite a nice job of building suspense at times, and pulling the rug out from under your feet with an unexpected twist. He has written a lot in the whodunit genre, so he is quite adept at that type of misdirection and surprise.There’s a scene on a Russian railway station that was particularly effective at this.
And then the final act, Bond is involved in a climax which, if you know Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much, might sound a little bit familiar. The setting of East Berlin and the way the novel culminates also brings to mind classic Cold War stories, including as I mentioned earlier, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. And I noticed in the author’s notes, Horowitz acknowledges that he reread that novel as preparation for writing this.
And I think it’s nice that the novel ends as many a great cold War spy story does, around the margin between East and West. Hopefully those who were unhappy with the ending that Daniel Craig's cinematic Bond was given in No Time To Die may be more approving of the ending Horowitz comes up with here. I think that Horowitz delivers an effective way tending to his Bond trilogy, although I felt like the last few chapters really did rush by - almost in a bit of a blur.
A couple of things which I wasn’t quite as pleased with…there’s an aspect which I often find a bit tiresome in Bond continuation novels is frequent references to happenings in Fleming Bond novels. This always strikes me as a sort of fan-fictiony sort of technique. I realise that Horowitz has done a lot of work in his Bond books to tie them in closely with the Fleming timeline, but all the references do get a bit much for me. This book even has footnotes referring to specific Fleming novels which seems unnecessary to me and I would have been happier with far fewer specific mentions of Fleming events and characters. I'm also not sure that I fully bought into Bond's relationship with Katya, the main female character, and her motivations and character journey during the story, although I think that Horowitz probably does do a better job with his female characters than the likes of John Gardner managed to do. As much as I have a soft spot for the Gardner books, I never found any of which female characters particularly memorable.
In the end, I think Horowitz finishes his run as the official Bond author with a set of three novels that stand as some of the strongest continuation novels. I'm not sure right now how I'd rank With a Mind to Kill alongside the two others. My gut feeling is that it is second best behind Trigger Mortis, and ahead of Forever and a Day. I plan to reread those two books sometime soon though, and I'll be interested to see how my opinion settles with time.
Thanks for that review @Golrush007 You make it sound more interesting than Horowitz's other two efforts. I don't do hardbacks so I'm waiting for the softback edition.
Just finish the book and the audiobook. I enjoyed both very much.
There is only one minor detail that I didn’t understand. And that is Hal Garfinkel.
How could he be part of the story? I thought he died in »The Man with the Golden Gun«.
In that book he is on a train together with Louie Paradise and Sam Binion (both were mentioned in With A Mind To Kill« to be in Sing Sing) when the bridge under them is exploded and the train crash into the river below.
And later on The Police Commissioner of Jamaica explains that some »enemy agents were killed by the destruction by Mr Leiter’s ingenious use of explosive of the Orange River Bridge«.
So how did he survive to be in this book?
The only non Fleming Bond novel I've read so far is Trigger Mortis, which I thought was an excellent fast paced thriller. Horowitz is a great writer anyway, but he did seem to capture the style of Fleming. I've got the second one to read next, but I was wondering if there are any non Fleming Bond novels you'd all recommend.
Sure: Colonel Sun by Kingsley Amis; Icebreaker by John Gardner; and James Bond and the Spy Who Loved Me by Christopher Wood (you’ll have to buy an old copy second-hand) are my personal favorites. I like Carte Blanche by Jeffrey Deaver as well, but a lot of people do not care for it. The other three I mention, though, are well-liked by most people here, I think.
I've added those to my list. Many thanks Miles!
I agree with Miles Messervy's suggestions. That gives you a pretty good representation of different styles of continuation novel. The first three suggestions are all excellent books in my opinion. I fall into the group that doesn't like Carte Blanche, but I'd still suggest you give it a try @richbond because it may appeal to you.
John Pearson's biography of James Bond is well worth reading too.
This one is still in my to read pile, along with Benson's last two novels.
Just got this text message: "Your copy of Antony Horowitz' 'With a mind to kill' has arrived at the library". Oh joy! 😀
As always, I’m late to the party! Just finished my library copy of WAMTK a few minutes ago…and as for the audio version at my library, good news is that I’m next in line to borrow it, but the bad news is, it has gone missing! It bothers me that there’s a possibility that a fellow literary Bond fan out there may also resort to thievery to satiate their thirst for Bond!
My review of With a Mind to Kill is now online at Artistic Licence Renewed.
I was hoping it would get some reactions but I didn't expect this one.
Well done. And genuine too, unlike the congrats I had on FB after remarking how brilliant the photo cover for Between the Buttons is. Someone called Mick Jagger, but no idea who he is and he hasn't got a following or a posting record...
Reminds me of the time back in January 2013 when "Martin Amis" commented somewhat disparagingly on an article I wrote about Kingsley on my blog. I'm still not sure if that was genuine or not or if it was just someone messing around. Most likely it was the latter.
Recently finished With a Mind to Kill, another Bond continuation novel I borrowed from the library. The library's great, isn' it?
Within a few chapters I figured out the kind of thing I'd be saying about it.
The book is set just after the last Fleming novel, The Man With The Golden Gun and I have to say, while I would rate Colonel Sun by Robert Markham aka Kingsley Amis as more authentic as part of the canon - Amis did The James Bond Dossier appraisal and chatted about it with Fleming over lunch, I must confess one difference - in the decades since I picked up the paperback second hand in a tat shop I've never actually read it. I managed the opening chapter which dealt with the kidnap of M and found it a bit distasteful, and while I flicked through some of the rest, it feels a bit like eating your greens. In contrast, I finished Anthony Horowitz's book in a fortnight or so, no quibbles.
First, the good stuff. The plot premise is brilliant, it follows on from Golden Gun very successfully and audaciously. Say what you like about Fleming's fading powers but we have to admit that YOLT and GG end and start respectively with audacious scenes and Horowitz is the only author to really address this and weave it into an adventure. This takes Bond beyond the Iron Curtain, which also feels like a first although Faulks did something with this in his Devil May Care book which really felt like he was just dashing for the end tape for the last bit.
I feel I will remember this plot far more than any of the other continuation novels, it is highly memorable.
Generally, Horowitz does a good job of sort of mimicking Fleming's style and the passages that describe Moscow are superb, especially how it is at night. I was lucky enough to visit Moscow on a school trip in the late 80s and had to make it back to the hotel when the Tube or whatever they call it was down, it really did feel as depicted here and various bits of prose really raise the book.
The downside? There are a few. Chapter 2 and it begins to feel not very authentic. There's a flashback to a discussion with M and something didn't ring true. He seems a bit of a cypher here - in fact, I can't even recall him in the previous two Horowitz books. As with the films, if M doesn't convince, the rest of it doesn't quite either. Oh, he's described as holding his pipe and so on, but it's not quite enough. Actually, a flaw with H's books is that many of the characters do feel like cyphers, just there to move the plot along, even Bond himself.
Secondly, it's not that plausible, despite the welcome audacity of the plot. I just can't believe what is set out for Bond here, nor that it is quite necessary for him to undergo this. The premise - some terrible thing going on, it's a bit Living Daylights - doesn't seem to warrant it. I don't buy that the whole thing could be kept secret from the Russians - wasn't MI6 infiltrated a fair bit or had Philby been exposed? Or that Bond could pass himself off as something he isn't. I suppose something similar of sorts happens in OHMSS - he pretends to be an academic, or in Golden Gun - he pretends to be a gun for hire, but his enemies aren't putting the screws on from the start.
Third, the prose isn't Fleming. Well, what is? It seems nobody writes like that anymore. If Fleming was a three-course meal in your local bistro, with a nice glass of red, the style here is more grab a sandwich from Pret and a coffee to go. Both enjoyable, but not the same. The prose is not immersive or lingering. It doesn't keep you company. Does any prose these days do that? At a time when so many other distractions are at hand, is there any need? I keep meaning to write a review of Mitchell's Gone With The Wind - okay, it's racialist and I wouldn't want it in the house but that aside, if you thought the film was a dreary soap opera raised by A-list stars and MGM production values, well, read the book. The prose is brilliant, just the bit where Scarlett is being courted by two young lads early on, you see the whole scene differently.
There's no guilty pleasure vibe from the prose here, no pulp fiction feel, nothing sexy or dangerous, nor much in the way of travel journalism - okay there is a bit - or suchlike. The plot seems a bit odd and unusual for Bond but then you realise it's just Line of Duty stuff (acclaimed British cop series) we've seen before, transferred to Bond's world. In fact, there isn't much escapism here at all. At no point do you want to be Bond, he isn't having fun, ever. I suppose this chimes with the themes of the cinematic Bond in No Time To Die and with his return to Russia, you might wander if Danny Boyle didn't pass off his first draft to the author after it got jettisoned.
Just as things get very bland, the villains pull a dastardly stunt on a victim to prove a point. It's okay but you feel the author's heart isn't really in it. It's odd - Fleming could do this stuff and the prose acted as a comfort blanket while it doesn't here. I'm not sure having the Russians as the main villains quite works given this is the early 60s, and as the book progresses you sometimes forget what Bond is here for. Overall, and I noticed this just opening the pages before I began, the print is quite large and the reference to Bond 'sightseeing' the Kremlin gave me a tip-off that this wouldn't be authentic Fleming. The 'sightseeing' is the author being ironic but it doesn't really feel right. The Fleming prose style did help convince the reader that it wasn't too fantastic but today that style doesn't exist - does it? I'm reading Robert Harris' Act of Oblivion next and his excellent book Selling Hitler about the hoax diaries reads like a thriller, it's also decades old and has that dense, immersive style that nobody has time for any more, I wonder how his latest outing compares?
Escapism was a problem with Horowitz's last Bond novel, Forever And A Day. In it, Bond enjoys a drive in the South of France, eats a tasty meal of fresh bread, cheese and red wine. Why, he even has sex at once point - though it's not racy, like Bond meeting Tatiana R in FRWL, just pre-marital. My point is, while all this may have been escapist in the late 50s, it isn't now. In this book, the author gives up trying, though of course there's nothing escapist about early 60s Russia anyway. It all reads a bit empty and bleak.
The author plots well and there's a fight in a Moscow underground that has a surprising pay-off. You do pick up the book each evening wanting to know what happens next.
The finale will remind espionage fans of a great many such endings, it's a hybrid of a few things so not that original. There's no Kerim Bay style character in this, no Quarrel or suchlike, the book doesn't stay in one place enough for that, it's a page turner but in some ways the packet of Quavers you want to finish, it has you addicted but you feel bit conned for some reason. Again, I finished it so it's one up on Colonel Sun, and I appreciated a fair bit of it but... parts of John Pearson's Biography of James Bond felt more authentic, though that became silly as it went on.
The problem here could be that these new books are plot-based rather than character-based, then travel journalist based, foodie-based and so on. Fleming once offered an insight into a world the post 50s man or schoolboy rarely got to see, now there's no need for that - and the world isn't like it was in the early 60s anyway. I'll admit that other writers trying to ape that conspicuous consumption thing made it look obvious. I also feel however that the dark, illicit world of Fleming just wouldn't be tolerated by the new custodians anyway, they want it safe.
A pleasure to read that, NP.
Good review. Thanks for that. Personally I'm in no rush to read it.
Thanks, though I feel a bit bad about it after reading the well-written review by @Revelator . I don't think the author would be rushing to praise mine! But don't read his review until you've read the book.
Two other things I forgot to mention. Firstly, I do feel Fleming was a bit depressive - perhaps by no means unusual despite his upbeat, worldly demeanour. It informs his books, it's as if he's creating a world in which he can lose himself. Mainly in the senses. I don't get that feel about Horowitz, he seems a genial fellow. Secondly, it's the sex. Many of these continuation authors, well they're name authors so it's probably hard to sublimate themselves to their hero's style and why should they? The Beatles' Macca parodied Little Richard on I'm Down but that's just a B-side, no need for a whole album. I'm straying from my point - Faulks, Boyd, Deaver, Horowitz - are in their 50s or older and I don't think they can write the sex the way it should be here. It's like putting toothpaste back in the tube. This isn't a dig - it's just, past a certain age you don't see sex in the same way and there's no hiding it. That lustful, aspirational, ego-driven, conflict-driven side of things we get in the Bond novels, it's not really there. It's odd because society is in many ways sexually driven - the Evening Standard's mag supplement might run a feature on sex parties, and hardcore porn is the norm for many - but in today's Bond novels the sex is all quite wholesome and not terribly driven because you don't pick up on any dark undercurrents. Christopher Wood could do it, he was a bit younger and also wrote saucy novels under another name. Again, it's not a dig, it's just.... tastes evolve.
The same applies to other stuff. I personally can't buy into the patriotism thing past a certain age and these new authors struggle with it too I think. This latest book does deal with this better but with the others the authors tend to put in a dig about the UK Govt and while I would generally agree - there are some very nasty scandals over the last 50 years, no question - that knowledge doesn't quite fit with a Fleming-style Bond novel.
I miss that earnest style of old, where you're invited to really believe in it, while knowing it's sort of rubbish, the complicity between author and reader. I do find myself reading the latest and it's on two levels, I'm thinking 'Okay, I see what he's trying to do here, that's interesting....' rather than being transported. I agree with the other reviewer who complained about the numerous fleeting references to Bond's previous assignments, they get shoehorned in. It doesn't make it more credible, quite the reverse.
While I think your review is a bit harsh, I can’t really fault it, either. I liked the book, and thought it was Horowitz’s best, but I also agree with your critiques. Most notably, the sex, as you point out, has been a glaring weakness of virtually every continuation author after Wood.
Ultimately, I do wish they’d return to the present for a Bond novel. Deaver produced my favorite of the recent slate for this reason. Fleming is Fleming, and most of us are so familiar with his Bond novels that we don’t re-read them for the same reasons we might pick up a new book. But a modern author writing 60 years in the past has several fundamental weaknesses. Namely, they’re writing about a time that neither they nor their readers ever lived. It’s inauthentic and will never feel quite right. EON, to their credit, understands this and has resisted the temptation to go back. IFP needs to do the same. It would instantly make the novel more relatable and potentially more relevant. Hopefully they move in that direction.
Semi-recent news item: the Dec. 15 edition of the Daily Express has a celebrities-pick-the-best-books-of-2022 feature. Charlie Higson wrote, "Of all the big-name authors who have borrowed Ian Fleming's typewriter, I've enjoyed Anthony Horowitz's books the most. His latest and last Bond adventure, With a Mind to Kill (Vintage), was a fine way to bow out. Authentic, exciting and shot through with a very Flemingesque ennui."
The spy novelist Greg Mosse also listed the book: "It was with a tinge of sadness that I read the brilliant With a Mind to Kill by Anthony Horowitz (Vintage)--sadness because it's the last James Bond novel he's going to write."
Have to agree I've really enjoyed them and as they say any Bond book is better than no Bond book
I finally got to read With a Mind to Kill
Amongst all the postFleming Bond titles that use the words Die or Kill, this seems more appropriate than most, as it actually has a double meaning within the plot.
The plot borrows heavily from The Manchurian Candidate, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, and the climax of The Man Who Knew too Much (Doris Day version). Horowitz acknowledges the le Carre influence in his afterword.
by coincidence I'd just read Richard Condon's original novel of The Manchurian Candidate before reading the new Horowitz. The two books do not compare favourably, as Condon's book was devastating satire of the American political system, with some very good sentences, whereas Horowitz's book is commissioned product in a continuation series. I filed a Report on Condon's book here
Theres a spectacular action sequence near the beginning of With a Mind to Kill where Soviet collaborating IRA agents "rescue" Bond from British custody in a brazen early morning attack on one of London's bridges, it reads like a cinematic storyboard in prose, and in fact seems to combine the precredits of Licence to Kill and The World is Not Enough. And then after that, nothing much happens for about a hundred pages as Bond shuffles round Moscow. So I guess Horowitz put everything he had into that one action sequence.
I suppose we have to view the Moscow scenes as Horowitz's attempt to do Fleming style travelogue? And very good for painting a portrait of exactly how bad life was in the Soviet Union.
it does sort of make sense as a culmination of literary Bond's lifework, he'd been fighting the Soviet system all along but the real life big baddies were always offstage. Now he's taken right to the heart of the beast and sees for himself the cause was just. This is interesting as it is the first time I think that his direct enemy is a State rather than an individual (though Horowitz fudges it a little in the final scenes). Bond's job is espionage in the employ of the British state, protecting it from rivals, yet until now he's been battling Dick Tracy style cartoon baddies. And here the Soviet Union takes the traditional place of the Villain's Headquarters (and the prose does convey its inescapable vastness).
Especially timely these days, as Russia is Bad again. Had this book came out in 1990 it might read as reactionary. Horowitz makes the point several times that the totalitarian nature of the Russian state goes back to its mediaeval origins, that Stalin was just another manifestation of the same behaviour that the Tsars had previously been guilty of, Actually very depressing to think about as we try to imagine who would fill the vacuum once Putin is gone.
The ending of the book (again borrowing heavily from le Carre) sure looks like its going to resolve the same as No Time to Die. But at least Horowitz leaves it ambiguous, and instead the final sentences are a reprise of Bond's conversation with Mathis in the hospital back in Casino Royale, a nice bit of symmetry.
I really cant imagine Colonel Sun happening after this, never mind any of the others. Early pages do remind us how long bond has been at this job (I think Horowitz says twelve years, and he gave us specific dates in Forever and a Day as to when he'd started) so he's due for retirement anyway.
One thing this book does is redeem Fleming's final novel, which I know even Fleming thought was not up to his usual standard. Early dialogs give better rationale for Bond's mission in Jamaica than Fleming did, and Scaramanga's activities fit into the big picture better than Fleming's attempts to demonstrate his villainy. I'm still not persuaded electroshock therapy would return Bond to his original personality, but theres enough psychobabble in With a Mind to Kill to almost make it seem logical, itself a classic Fleming trick.
@Revelator once found us Kingsley Amis's book review of The Man with the Golden Gun, in which Amis told us what should have happened to Bond after he left for Vladisvostock.
At the end of You Only Live Twice he was taking off for Vladivostok, because it was part of a country that, he sensed, he had had a lot to do with in the past. This was a promising situation. One could hardly wait for the follow-up: inevitable 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.
which does sound like a better adventure than The Man with the Golden Gun, and you know a lot of that actually happens here, particularly the return of Grubaboyzawhoozawhutsit. Do you think Horowitz read this Amis review? or is it just obvious to any FlemingFan that there was a better story to be told? Horowitz combines this similar adventure with a worthy philosophical resolution to the FlemingBond saga, and the worldweary travelogue tone does continue what Fleming himself was writing in You Only Live Twice
Thanks for that review. I haven't read it yet. Not even bought a copy. NTTD simply wore me out. I can't face anymore destruction of my boyhood fantasy hero.
I recommend giving WAMTK a try @chrisno1 -- I believe the book avoids several of NTTD's problems. It's a meaningful farewell to Bond done with considerably more sophistication than the film version and leaves the reader with freedom of interpretation. Yes, WAMTK has some Le Carre influnece and the Russian settings are intentionally grim, but the book is also in line with the accidie of the later Bond novels and--most impressively--in dialogue withCasino Royale. It takes Bond full circle. And the Bond girl is in the mold of Fleming's bird-with-a-wing-down, but with a wrenching twist. This is a work whose darkness is earned and dramatically valid. I thought Forever and Day just okay, so I was surprised to find With a Mind to Kill genuinely good.
in his Afterword, Horowitz says he had no unused Fleming material to incorporate in his story this time.
yet upthread people are saying the Exclusive Waterstones edition contains a bonus called Bond Goes to Jail.
so what is Bond Goes to Jail? whats the plot? why did Fleming write it? and is it not the basis for some scene in Horowitz's novel (perhaps the early pages in British custody)? why else would it be included?