Book Review: James Bond Gets A New Number

Forever and a Day is a James Bond prequel novel by Anthony Horowitz which apparently explains how Ian Fleming’s iconic literary secret agent was designated 007. Although Casino Royale was the first James Bond novel written by Ian Fleming, it really was not an origin story. I am not one of those fans who actually needs an origin story for all of my favorite characters, so I was curious about this idea but not terribly impressed with anyone concocting their own notion of how another author’s creation grew into being.

This one is an exception since Horowitz is actually a decent writer. There isn’t a lot of time devoted to James Bond’s early days in the Secret Service. In fact, Bond is promoted quite quickly in the book and is taking the place of a 00 agent who is killed. He requests to be given the 007 designation to honor a friend and to investigate his death.

Then, the elements familiar to the fans are in place. We have the somewhat deformed or striking looking villain. We have the pretty yet dangerous woman who captures Bond’s eye and perhaps his heart. There is the impressive headquarters that has no easy escape.

Even though there were plenty of familiar patterns from Fleming’s original series, Horowitz does bring a sense of fresh air to the character. I think there Horowitz embeds a sense of respect for Fleming throughout the story. In fact, the book includes a scene that was taken from some notes or a draft of an unpublished story that Fleming had stored away. The affection that Horowitz has for the Fleming just seems more palpable than in many pastiche works. I could envision Fleming himself writing this.

The literary version of Bond came across as considerably more brutal than what was often seen in the films. Daniel Craig has probably captured that a bit better than the other actors in many ways. Horowitz doesn’t shy away from the graphic beatings that Bond has both endured and administered.

There are times that the exposition seems to drag a little, and some conservations between characters felt longer than necessary, however I probably noted much of the same in Fleming’s original works.

I was rather pleased to find that whatever prejudices I had going into this particular novel were mostly unjustified. This is Horowitz’s second dive into 007’s world, and his third is apparently to be published later this year. I will be looking forward to seeing what other ideas he has for Fleming’s most celebrated agent.

Next up, a crime reporter in Colorado is struggling to understand the suicide of his twin brother, who was a homicide detective, and finds that there may be more to the tragedy than what was noticed. American crime writer Michael Connelly is probably best known as the author of the Harry Bosch novels, but one of his earlier works has Jack McEvoy in the spotlight of The Poet.

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