There was all that fuss a few years back about Sebastian Faulks and William Boyd, actual literary authors (unlike John Gardner or Raymond Benson, or – let’s be fair – Anthony Horowitz) being hired to write a James Bond novel. Wasn’t it incredible? Proof of the high esteem in which Fleming’s writing is held.
But ignored in all the coverage was that the Fleming estate had hired a literary author to write a James Bond novel before. It might say Robert Markham on the front of this novel, but step forward Mr Kingsley Amis.
One of the things about books like this is that a certain level of pastiche is inevitable. Of course, the author doesn’t want to go so far that it all becomes parody, but he does want to mimic the voice of the original while telling his own tale. And on this score, Kingsley Amis (a writer not traditionally known for his thrillers) does Fleming perfectly. He really captures that mix of sex, sadism and the lash – as well as all the excessive consumption that James Bond does so well. In fact, it’s so accurate it could be mistaken for a lost Fleming (it’s better than THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, certainly) and maybe that isn’t so surprising as – despite their different backgrounds – Amis and Fleming were much the same type of Englishman. Indeed, both writers throughout their work gradually become more hardcore conservative and reactionary. No doubt if Fleming had lived, Mrs Thatcher would have given him a knighthood too.
Following the events of THE MAN WITH A GOLDEN GUN, a soft and bored James Bond is suddenly thrust from London into a great adventure off the Greek coast which has dangerous consequences for the whole world. There’s a beautiful woman, guns, boats, an over the top villain and a brutal torture scene. Really, from a James Bond novel, what more could one possibly want?
Like to try before you buy? You can read the first three chapters of my own thriller, DIANA CHRISTMAS, for free here.