TRIGGER MORTIS by ANTHONY HOROWITZ (2015, Orion, 320pp) ∗∗∗
Blurb: James Bond is back. Anthony Horowitz’s new novel is a thrilling tour de force, sure to delight fans of the original 007 novels and new readers alike. It also features previously unseen material written by Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming. The story begins in the lethal world of Grand Prix with an attempt by the Russians to sabotage a race at Nürburgring, the most dangerous track in Europe. Bond is in the driving seat but events swiftly take an unexpected turn, pitching him into an entirely different race with implications that could change the world. Anthony Horowitz recreates the golden age of Bond, packed with speed, danger, strong women and fiendish villains, in this brilliantly authentic adventure.
Anthony Horowitz goes back to the period of Fleming’s novels and sets this latest extension to the James Bond literary canon days after Fleming’s Goldfinger (1959). This is a move which tries to establish some authenticity of this book within the Fleming timeline from the original novels. For the most part this works well in re-creating a James Bond from Fleming’s vision. However, the book is ultimately reminiscent of many of the films in that it links a series of action and dramatic set-pieces together around a standard Bond plot.
At the beginning of the book Bond is living with Pussy Galore – who in Fleming’s Goldfinger was the head of an all-lesbian organisation, based in Harlem, known as the Cement Mixers. Her relationship with Bond is resolved in the first part of the book. In the early stages there is also the set-piece (based on Fleming’s original notes) around the attempted sabotage of the motor race at Nürburgring. Here Bond is alerted to SMERSH activity with a mysterious Korean, known as Jason Sin. It is revealed Sin is haunted by American atrocities during the Korean War, which accounted for the loss of his family, and is using his hatred to fuel an attempt to strike back at the US by helping the Russians in sabotaging the space programme.
Horowitz sticks close to Fleming’s portrayal of Bond and this proves to be the main plus of the novel. He also retains some of Fleming’s more eccentric approach to the prose, including his almost obsessive attention to detail. The plot itself is hard to buy into and full of holes. However, Horowitz works his description of the action sequences well – notably for the motor racing sequence, which utilises Fleming material – and Jeopardy Lane is a good addition to the literary Bond girl roster. The book will therefore both satisfy and potentially irritate Bond and Fleming scholars.