Thursday, September 5, 2019

Bond: "Forever And A Day" by Anthony Horowitz

Bond: Forever And A Day by Anthony Horowitz, 2018, 9780062872807.

One of the novels I picked out for summer vacations. I have a few more left and should bring them back except no one else has placed a hold on them and they are not brand new.

This story is something of an origin story with Bond on his first assignment as a 00 agent. There were only three (four?) 00 agents and the most recent 007 has been murdered on assignment in the South of France. Bond has been an undercover and had a couple try out missions where he committed two assigned murders. Now he has been promoted to continue the investigation, find his predecessors killer, and avenge the agent's death.

What proceeds is different than the film versions. I suppose this is obvious but all the film stories with slam-band car chases, fistfights, and plots to destroy the world have not been in many Bond novels I have read. This story goes right back to some Fleming plots where Bond is not fighting SMERSH. Bond is investigating a heroin ring.

Rather than go undercover Bond flies to France under his own name - after all his immediate and deceased predecessor went undercover and was found out anyway. He starts following the few remaining clues and searching the dead man's apartment. While there he is ambused by a CIA guy, clocks the guy, then makes friends.

Bond gets help from CIA and meets up with the sexy Sixtine. A former British wartime spy with the British SOE, Sixtine holds a grudge against Limeys over wartime activities. But, Bond and her have drinks, make nice, have sex, and work together. Sixtine has been getting romantic with a multi-millionaire from the States. That multimillionaire's film production factory has been ordering chemicals from a company with links to the local French crime kingpin. Plus, the chemical company's dockside warehouses are a stone's throw from where the previous agent was found dead.

Anyhoo. Things move along and this was fun. The book is set in 1950 or '52-ish (I don't recall a specific year but this is not too long after WWII and the Korean War was ongoing). Horowitz gives us a period piece and adds in some cultural mores. There is some daily sexism.There is an allusion to the bad guy being homosexual and Bond being repulsed when Bond is tied up and the man strokes his face. I recall some xenophobia from M but maybe I imagined that - besides modern M is always a bit of a priggish asshole. No racism. No religious bigotry.

I recall some unpleasant reading from early Fleming novels when it came to racism and sexism. I read a Bulldog Drummond novel a few years ago that was set after WWI. Man, that was some something else.

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