The new James novel Trigger Mortis, penned by Anthony Horowitz, has received some very good reviews from the critics, who have generally praised the new story as one of the best attempts so far at capturing the spirit and style of the original Ian Fleming thrillers.
Critics in the UK have been especially positive about the new book. Nicholas Lezard, for example, writing in the London Evening Standard (‘Reborn Bond is back at his best’, 3rd September), said it’s his practice – when reviewing a new entry in any continuity franchise – to draw a line down the centre of an imaginary page: ‘On the left I list everything that’s a bit off or out of kilter, and on the right everything I guess the original writer would have been happy with or even proud of. If the list gets too long – and it invariably gets that way on the left-hand side – the page stops being imaginary and I take real notes’.
According to Lezard, Horowitz knows what he’s doing and has produced a ‘hugely enjoyable story, which has everything in it we want from Bond, and more’. In the end, there were only three items in Lezard’s imaginary column: the word ‘shit’, in dialogue; the phrase ‘game over’, which doesn’t sound right for 1957; and Lezard’s own note: ‘almost too good’. High praise indeed!
Hannah Furness, writing in the Daily Telegraph (9th September), noted that the newspaper’s reviewer Jake Kerridge has awarded the new Bond book four stars, as it has captured the sprit of Fleming more successfully than any other author.
Similarly, Andrew Lycett, author of the major biography Ian Fleming, writing in The Times (12th September), commented in his review that Horowitz’s skilful resurrection of 007 is convincing, as the author ‘successfully incorporates telling detail… while maintaining a pulsating sense of excitement’. Lycett added: ‘I’m not always a fan of continuation novels, but Trigger Mortis is a masterly feat of literary ventriloquism. It could almost be Fleming’s work’.
The latter comment captures the tone of many of the other reviews. Inevitably, however, there have also been one or two less enthusiastic reviews. David Mills, reviewing Trigger Mortis in the culture section of the Sunday Times (13th September), was critical of what he called some of the ‘anomalies’ in the story; Bond’s boss ‘M’, complained Mills, would ‘never risk his best agent to save a playboy racing driver’. Nevertheless, even Mills conceded that Horowitz ‘has an amazing facility for narrating action, and the set-pieces are terrific’.
The new James Bond novel has certainly gone down well with many 007 fans, many of whom have praised Horowitz’s contribution as one of the best out of the 25 official new Bond books that have been written post-Fleming.
The strong reviews generally must also be especially pleasing to the Ian Fleming estate, who, according to reports – given the disappointing sales of recent Bond books – saw this latest continuation novel as possibly the last attempt to continue with the continuation franchise. Somehow, we suspect that will no longer be the case.
Trigger Mortis is published by Orion in the UK, priced £18.99. It is also available as an ebook, priced £12.99.