This fall, James Bond is reporting for duty—in two different stories in two different media, and in two different eras.
The man known as 007 will first appear in Trigger Mortis (HarperCollins, September 8, 2015) by Anthony Horowitz, the latest novel bearing the stamp of approval from the estate of Bond creator Ian Fleming. Fleming passed away back in 1964, shortly after the publication of You Only Live Twice, the 12th novel featuring the character who would, thanks to his cinema incarnation, become fiction’s greatest spy. After Fleming’s death, two of his Bond works would be published posthumously: 1965’s The Man with the Golden Gun and a collection of short stories titled Octopussy and The Living Daylights (1966).
Over the years, however, as the Bond films became one of the greatest franchises in cinema history, Fleming’s estate has commissioned a number of well-known authors (including John Gardner, Raymond Benson and Sebastian Faulks) to continue 007’s adventures through dozens of novels. In these tales, the years passed by, but Bond didn’t really age—the super-spy was simply modernized and placed in contemporary settings. The series has remained perennially popular, selling more than 100 million books worldwide.
Not anymore. Trigger Mortis is the first post-Fleming Bond novel to take place within Fleming’s original Bond cannon—and it actually incorporates original Fleming material within its story.
Trigger Mortis takes place in 1957, two weeks after the events of Fleming’s Goldfinger, and plunges Bond into the middle of the Soviet-American space race. As the United States prepares for a critical rocket launch, Bond must match wits with Jai Seung Sin, a sadistic, scheming adversary hell-bent on vengeance. Featured in the book is new Bond Girl Jeopardy Lane, along with the return of the most famous Bond Girl of all, Pussy Galore.
The book also uses material from Fleming’s treatment of Murder on Wheels, an episode of a television series that was never made. Fleming’s story places Bond in the high-stakes, high-octane world of auto racing—and the new Fleming plot kicks off the action of the new novel.
“It was always my intention to go back to the true Bond, which is to say, the Bond that Fleming created,” said Horowitz, author of numerous books, including the New York Times bestseller Moriarty. “It was a fantastic bonus to have some original, unseen material from the master to launch my story. I hope fans enjoy it. My aim was to make this the most authentic James Bond novel anyone could have written.”
The Fleming estate concurs. “Anthony has written a James Bond book with a nail-biting adventure that could have come from Ian’s own typewriter,” said Lucy Fleming, Ian Fleming’s niece. “Anthony has cleverly incorporated Ian’s original ideas into his own plot to produce a Bond book to remember.”
A newer Bond, though—a contemporary Bond with whom movie audiences are equally familiar—will light up the big screen in November, when Spectre, the latest 007 cinematic offering, debuts. The movie is the fourth to star Daniel Craig as Bond, and the second to be directed by Oscar-winner Sam Mendes, who helmed the mega-hit Skyfall (2012). Skyfall is the highest-grossing Bond film to date, having raked in more than $1 billon worldwide.
In Spectre, Bond seeks to unmask the cryptic organization that’s tormented him since 2006’s Casino Royale, Craig’s first 007 film. While M, Bond’s boss, battles political forces that are trying to shut down the secret service for good, Bond receives a mysterious message from his own past and sets out to reveal the dreadful truth behind the insidious criminal organization.
In recent interviews, Craig has hinted that Spectre may mark his last turn in 007’s perfectly tailored tux. That announcement inadvertently set off a chain of events that landed Trigger Mortis author Horowitz in a cauldron of social-media hot water. When asked his opinion about the next big-screen Bond, and whether oft-rumored choice Idris Eldra could fit the role as the first black Bond, Horowitz gave the selection a thumbs-down, saying he thought Eldra was not “suave” enough, and “probably a bit too ‘street’ for Bond.” The remarks set off howls of protest by fans who called Horowitz’s remarks racist. Horowitz later apologized for his statement, saying, “I admit it was a poor choice of words. I am mortified to have caused offense.”
Given all the mortal peril Bond has been subjected to over the decades, it’s likely that he’ll survive this Internet tempest, as well—proving not only that nothing can kill a classic, but also that, in the world of fictional espionage…nobody does it better.