We meet again Mr Bond in Forever and a Day but this time 007 is learning the ropes of this world –his world–, in this enjoyable prequel of Casino Royale, authorised by the Fleming estate and written by bestseller author Anthony Horowitz. This isn’t the first time the author has penned an official Bond novel, having released Trigger Mortis, a sequel to Goldfinger, three years ago.
It’s often considered dangerous when adding to a classic work, especially when it involves creating the unknown origins of a loved character. James Bond’s background has been explored before in the Young Bond novels, learning about his teenage years at Eton in the 1930s and beyond. Although this novel is not about young James at this elite school, it’s about how 007 become 007.
After 007 dies on a mission, M decides to send new agent James Bond to the South of France (being The Riviera and the casino in Monte Carlo good Fleming territory) on his very first mission. This is, then Bond Origins, Bond Begins. It is not long before he meets a femme who might or might not be fatal. She is Sixtine and is first encountered in a grand casino, where she proves to be an expert. She also prefers her martinis shaken not stirred (!).
The author’s writing style has a simpler vocabulary to Fleming’s sometimes pretentious over-descriptions while remaining loyal to the original tone. There are brutal and bloody moments in the actions scenes, but Fleming’s awkward dated sexism has also been toned down for a modern audience.
Sixtine, in good Fleming fashion, gives a romantic backstory which explains how she came to be what she is. Meanwhile, the villain Scipio is extremely enjoyable and cartoonish: a morbidly obese Corsican gangster who blusters and waddles between scenes (I love him and I want him in a Bond film!) Fleming would, I guess, have been happy to have come up with either of them.
I am very pleased that I enjoyed this novel so much. I hope to have another Horowitz Bond’s novel in my hand soon.
Forever and a Day is as enjoyable as Skyfall is, a compact thriller, with an absolutely killer last line… go and read it!