My take on the five continuation novels I'd recommend are:
It's strange how the mind deceives you. I looked back through my AJB reviews and looked at the ratings I gave the continuation novels. The highest scores were:
9 - Icebreaker
7 - The Authorised Biography, Licence Renewed, For Special Services, No Deals Mr Bond
I did write a post recognising I'd probably overrated Licence Renewed and underscored Colonel Sun. Interestingly and oddly, F&AD got half a mark more than Carte Blanche; odd because I don't remember enjoying it that much. One of my favourites, Christopher Wood's JB,TSWLM only scraped a 6 !
I agree entirely. I often wonder whether the people who write Best-of lists are driven by an honest desire to list the ones they think are genuinely best even if predictable or repetitive, or a list that makes them seem as erudite as possible by displaying just how well-read/travelled/fed/cultured etc they are.
We are all entitled to our opinions of course, but I'm afraid as continuation novels I wasn't fussy on Carte Blanche or Solo. I much prefer Devil May Care to either of them. Colonel Sun is still the best for me. The Authorised Biography would certainly be in my top five and likely second. I do agree with Licence Renewed and can still remember the huge excitement I felt as a (very) young sprog when I received it for my birthday shortly after its release: it was so fresh and I loved that it was a genuine continuation novel from where Fleming had left off with Bond having aged appropriately. I may not declare it to be the best Gardner, but it was certainly the most exciting as 'Bond was back.' Trigger Mortis just edges Forever and a Day for me, although I very much like both. I have never read anything of Raymond Benson so can't comment on his work.
Like the other two Horowitz Bonds, I’m sure it will be fine. Horowitz actually likes Bond, so he never treats him with disdain (like Faulks and Boyd did). He’s also a competent novelist. As a result, the worst he can ever do is middle of the pack as far as continuation novels go. But his ceiling isn’t that high either based on the past efforts. Like those, I’ll read it and enjoy it, but doubt I’ll revisit it in the future.
Anthony Horowitz will be a guest on 'The Chris Evans Breakfast Show' on Thursday, 19 May from 6:30 AM - 10:00 AM (GMT) on Virgin Radio UK.
I agree entirely, MM. His books are perfect holiday reading, with streaming sun, powdery white sand between my toes, and a generous rum within easy reach. Alas, I have no such excursions planned and therefore will have to make do with a sagging living room chair, a small dog chewing at my toes, and a warm milk beside the glass that contains my dentures.
Yeah, I'm certainly expecting a well-written novel: the man is a machine and a very accomplished writer. I think his books are a lot better than the majority of continuation writers' work to be honest as, as you say, he really enjoys Bond (I agree that you get the sense that Faulks was kind of looking down his nose at Fleming, pretending to be him and writing a pastiche), but they are ultimately quick thriller reads, and not really designed to be any more than that. I was on my hols a while ago and switched from finishing a Horowitz Bond to a Benson one on my kindle, just because the Benson was set in the place I was in: the change in quality of the prose was like falling off a cliff! 😁
This one sounds a touch dark and sad though, I hope there's a bit of fun about it. After NTTD we don't need two Bond downers in a row! 😊
Was surprised to get an email from Waterstones today telling me that my signed pre-ordered copy of With a Mind to Kill was in stock, awaiting collection.
So, collected and now in hand some 3 days earlier than the supposed release date.
Lovely; mine is on its way but didn't make it today- I should get it tomorrow.
I liked his other two novels, though ideas and sometimes copy is meant to be cribbed from Fleming's own writings, it lacks a certain authenticity and I think that's for a couple of reasons, firstly like Deaver the guy is adept at plotting whereas Fleming was more about creating a world, like Arthur Conan Doyle. Fleming didn't always do anything great with his plots, rather his writing was to prose what John Barry was to music. With modern thriller writers, the plot points and sometimes twists are the main thing, the cliffhanger at the end of each chapter.
Secondly, Fleming was a depressive writer sometimes and you felt the sensory excesses were to distract from that. He could go dark-ish. I don't think you get that from the modern writers, nor the sexy pulp stuff, the sadistic stuff. The sense you are reading something naughty. This may be the influence of the bland Ian Fleming Foundation.
I ordered a copy of the signed edition yesterday from the Waterstones website and I've just received an email to say that it is shipping today.
My copy arrived today.
My signed copy arrived this morning. I'm glad to get it on the official day of publication and to see that it does have some extra content at the back including part of an unseen Fleming treatment called 'Bond Goes to Jail'.
Mine arrived today. Can't wait to get stuck in!
Do all editions come with the Fleming treatment or just the exclusive editions?
Just the exclusive editions I believe.
That paragon of literary taste the Daily Express gave this novel a huge thumbs up, claiming it to be the best Bond novel ever written bar none. I haven't read the book yet so i obviously can't comment, but the review reads like hyperbolic twaddle.
Reminds me of how Charles McGrath at the New York Times instantly proclaimed Devil May Care better than anything Fleming ever wrote, on the assumption that a highbrow novelist would automatically beat a thriller writer at even writing thrillers.
They aren’t the only newspaper review to say this…although it’s probably the same review across a number of newspapers
I’m presently listening on Audible. It’s great! Rory Kinnear does a great job as the reader, orator. Horowitz does wonderfully, in my opinion. Forever and a Day is my favorite Bond booms thus far. A Mind to Kill is just great, so far.
I've finished reading this and have a few points to make, but I'm not sure of the protocol. Is there to be a new spoilers alert thread for reviews, or should we just post them here with spoiler alerts in the individual posts?
The 'Bond Goes To Jail' pages are a slight footnote, with a little bit of Fleming material from an unused treatment for TV, and apparently it's exclusive to the Waterstones edition.
I finished the audiobook not long after the post I made yesterday. Fantastic book. If Forever and a Day is my #1 this is #1A.
As far as the scriptures from Fleming goes, Casino Royale was great too. Moonraker was really good too. If anyone is interested, I recommend the James Bond Radio JBR Book Club audio reading of Moonraker. It was fantastic! Felt it was worth a mention.
Good stuff. A nice collection of Bond continuation novel firsts in the background there too, @Barbel.
but whats on the CD shelf above?
Box sets- Elton John, Genesis, Johnny Cash, and an unfeasible amount of Frank Sinatra. Among others.
The John Barry/James Bond CDs are out of shot.
I'm not surprised you recognised those!
Yes, indeed. I have a few of them in first edition myself but not all of them. It's a collection in progress, you could say. 🙂
This is one case where age is an advantage, since I bought most of the books as they were released. The Fleming titles I inherited, I'm not quite THAT old.