Cover for Double or Nothing unveiled

The cover for Kim Sherwood’s Double or Nothing was unveiled today as marketing for the novel is picking up.

Sherwood shared the image on Twitter.

At the same time, Sherwood hinted the U.S. edition may have a different cover.

“For folks in America, watch this space for more on the US release…” she said in a follow-up post on Twitter.

On June 27, Sherwood said on Substack she has been “pre-recording interviews about Double or Nothing with podcasts and YouTube channels for release in September.”

Double or Nothing is a sort of “James Bond novel without James Bond.” Bond is missing and Sherwood introduces new 00 agents, including one named after one-time 007 screenwriter Johanna Harwood.

A number of James Bond websites have also received advanced copies of Sherwood’s novel with embargoes for when they can write about it.

A few thoughts about With a Mind to Kill

Anthony Horowitz has completed his James Bond continuation novel trilogy. While there’s a lot to recommend it, there are some things to consider.

Horowitz is a pro. He paces his stories well. He’s done his research on Ian Fleming’s original novels and short stories. And, with his first two Bond novels (but not With a Mind to Kill), he got to mine some unpublished Fleming material.

At the same time, Horowitz closely ties his Bond adventures to Fleming’s timeline. Essentially, he provides extended annexes to Fleming. Forever and a Day takes place shortly before Casino Royale. Trigger Mortis occurs shortly after Goldfinger. With a Mind to Kill starts two weeks after The Man With the Golden Gun.

Horowitz’s ending for his final Bond novel builds a wall between it and Colonel Sun by Kingsley Amis, the first Bond continuation novel published in 1968. In fact, Horowitz, in the acknowledgments doesn’t refer to Amis but his pen name, Robert Markham. Horowitz’s ending is intended as the final word on Fleming’s Bond.

Writing a Bond continuation novel isn’t easy. Detractors say some books are James Bond in name only. Other critics will say other Bond continuation books are mere pastiche, a faded copy of an original.

Even a gifted writer such as Horowitz, in With a Mind to Kill, felt the need to use footnotes. It’s a more restrained version of the editor’s notes that Stan Lee used in Marvel comic books to clue new readers into the events of prior issues.

Is With a Mind to Kill worth a reader’s time? If the reader is a fan of the literary Bond, certainly.

Still, after completing this new novel, I was reminded of how Ian Fleming was an original. Fleming crammed 90 years of living into a little more than 56.

Horowitz himself acknowledges this.

“Bond is a unique creation,” he writes in the acknowledgments. “The books have had an extraordinary impact all over the world. It makes me proud to think that from now on I may be a footnote in his history.”

That won’t stop Ian Fleming Publications. Kim Sherwood’s upcoming “James Bond novels without James Bond” are coming up.

Still, I think of a friend of mine. He tells me he re-reads the Flemings every year. He calls it rereading the Scriptures.

A sampling of With a Mind to Kill reviews

With a Mind to a Kill, the third James Bond continuation novel by Anthony Horowitz, is out.

The new novel is set after the events of Ian Fleming’s last novel, The Man With the Golden Gun. Here are some excerpts from reviews. Some spoilers follow. So go no further if you don’t wish to view them.

JAMES OWEN, THE TIMES (LONDON): Horowitz’s novel “has Bond pretending that he succeeded in shooting M, for whom a fake funeral is staged. The plan is for 007 to ‘escape’ to Moscow, like the real-life traitor George Blake.”

“Bond in the USSR is a neat conceit, but it’s not an escapist one. Although some of the quite short novel takes place in a swish hotel, shabby Moscow in the 1960s has little of the glamour that distinguishes the character (and not just in the films) from what George Lazenby might have termed ‘the other guys’. “

KIRKUS REVIEWS: “Horowitz completes his James Bond trilogy—begun in Trigger Mortis (2015) and Forever and a Day (2018)—by providing what would be the nonpareil British spy’s final adventure if only all those other earlier scribes hadn’t preceded him at the feast….Not nearly as ingenious as Horowitz’s meta-whodunits but well above average among post–Ian Fleming Bonds.”

AJAY CHOWDHURY, MI6 HQ.COM: “We live in an age where the tale of the movie Bond wags the dog of literary Bond. For the person given carte blanche to renew Bond’s literary licence for a solo mission every few years, they must conceive of a genuinely novelistic conceit that surprises and delights the wizened reader. It can be a thankless mission….Horowitz’s tale is dense with detail on period Moscow and the verisimilitude of psychological warfare.”

The Times provides a preview of Horowitz’s new Bond novel

Cover for With a Mind to Kill

The Times, one of publisher Rupert Murdoch’s “respectable” U.K. publications (as opposed to his trashy tabloids), has provided a preview of Anthony Horowitz’s third James Bond continuation novel, With a Mind to Kill. The novel is scheduled to be published at the end of this month.

Horowitz’s new story begins with a funeral. After a botched attempt to kill M by a brainwashed 007 in Golden Gun, M’s “burial” is now arranged and faked to fool the Russians, allowing Bond, who has now got his patriotic senses back, to go back behind the Iron Curtain to collect intelligence.

Bond must ingratiate himself with evil Colonel Boris, an expert in mind control with a place called “the magic room” in his lair, where 007 has already endured isolation, psychedelic drugs and torture.

Horowitz told The Times he penned the tale “long before the invasion [of Ukraine] began. And I’m just aware that I don’t want to be, as it were, promoting it on the back of what’s happening. It’s difficult, but it is timely, that’s for sure.” 

Russian leader Vladimir Putin is a former official in the KGB. He is suspected of ordering the murders of his opponents.

Horowitz’s continuation novels are based on the timeline of Ian Fleming’s original Bond novels. Trigger Mortis took place in the middle of the Fleming timeline (after the events of Goldfinger) while Forever And a Day took place before Fleming’s debut novel Casino Royale.

With a Mind to Kill occurs toward the end of the Fleming literary timeline. Various Bond websites have already received their advance copies so expect a surge of reviews at the end of this month.

A new book about Dr. No is scheduled

Dr. No poster

A new book about Dr. No, the first James Bond film, is scheduled to be published later this year.

The book is by James Chapman, author of Licence to Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films.

Here is a description of Chapman’s new effort, Dr. No: The First James Bond Film.

When Dr. No premiered at the London Pavilion on October 5, 1962, no one predicted that it would launch the longest-running series in cinema history. It introduced the James Bond formula that has been a box-office fixture ever since: sensational plots, colorful locations, beautiful women, diabolical villains, thrilling action set pieces, and a tongue-in-cheek tone. An explosive cocktail of action, spectacle, and sex, Dr. No transformed popular cinema.

James Chapman provides a lively and comprehensive study of Dr. No, marshaling a wealth of archival research to place the film in its historical moment. He demonstrates that, contrary to many fan myths, the film was the product of a carefully considered transnational production process. Chapman explores the British super-spy’s origins in Ian Fleming’s snobbery-with-violence thrillers, examining the process of adaptation from page to screen. He considers Dr. No in the contexts of the UK and Hollywood film industries as well as the film’s place in relation to the changing social and cultural landscape of the 1960s, particularly Cold War anxieties and the decline of the British Empire. The book also analyzes the film’s problematic politics of gender and race and considers its cultural legacy.

The book is scheduled to come out in November. In the e-book format, it will be priced at $27.99 or 22 British pounds. The hardcover price is $110, or 85 British pounds. The paperback edition is priced at $28 or 22 British pounds. The publisher is Columbia University Press.

Bond fan Elon Musk agrees to buy Twitter

Elon Musk photo on Twitter in 2015.

Notorious James Bond fan Elon Musk will buy Twitter for $44 billion. The social media service announced it accepted Musk’s bid, The Verge reported.

In 2015, Musk’s Twitter avatar was a parody of Blofeld and Dr. Evil. (See above). The billionaire industrialist In 2013 bought one of the submarine cars from The Spy Who Loved Me. In 2016, the Jalopnik website reported that Musk had a secret “Project Goldfinger” undertaking.

Subsequently, various news outlets have compared Musk to a James Bond villain. Like Ian Fleming’s Hugo Drax character, Musk’s activities include launching rockets via his SpaceX company.

More 60th: What was happening in 1962?

Originally published in 2011 and 2012.

Jan. 15: NBC airs “La Strega” episode of Thriller, starring Ursula Andress, female lead of Dr. No, which will be the first James Bond film.

Jan 16: Production begins on Dr. No, modestly budgeted at about $1 million. Fees include $40,000 for director Terence Young and $80,000 each for producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, not counting their share of profits. (Figures from research by film historian Adrian Turner). Star Sean Connery tells Playboy magazine in 1965 that he was paid $16,800 for Dr. No.

Inside Dr. No, a documentary made by John Cork for a DVD release of the movie, says about 10 percent of the film’s budget went to the Ken Adam-designed reactor room set, where the climactic fight between Bond and Dr. No takes place. (Date of production start from research by Craig Henderson’s For Your Eyes Only Web site.

Jan. 17: Jim Carrey is born.

Feb 3: U.S. begins embargo against Cuba.

Feb. 20: John Glenn becomes first U.S. astronaut to orbit the Earth.

March 2: Wilt Chamberlain scores 100 points as his Philadelphia Warriors team defeats the New York Knicks 169-147 in a game played in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Chamberlain achieves the feat by scoring 36 baskets and, perhaps most amazingly, by hitting 28 of 32 free-throw attempts. (Chamberlain was a notoriously bad free-throw shooter.) The player averaged 50.4 points per game in the 1961-62 season.

April 16: The Spy Who Loved Me, Ian Fleming’s latest 007 novel, is published. The novel takes a radical departure from previous Bond novels. The story is told in the first person by a female character, Vivienne Michel, with Bond not appearing until two-thirds of the way through the story. Fleming, in his dealings with Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, specifies only the title is to be used for any movie. Broccoli (after Saltzman departs the film series) does just that in the 10th film of the 007 series, which comes out in July 1977.

May (publication date, actually likely earlier): The Incredible Hulk, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, debuts in the first issue of his own comic book.

June 1: Nazi Adolph Eichmann was executed in Israel.

July 3: Future Mission: Impossible movie star Tom Cruise is born.

July 12: Rolling Stones debut in London.

August (publication date actual date probably earlier): Amazing Fantasy No. 15 published, debut of Spider-Man by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, with cover art by Jack Kirby and Ditko.

Aug. 5: Actress Marilyn Monroe dies.

Aug. 6: Michelle Yeoh, who will play Chinese secret agent Wai Lin in the 1997 Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, is born.

Aug. 16: Future Get Smart movie star Steve Carell is born.

Aug. 16: Ringo Starr joins the Beatles.

Sept. 26: The Beverly Hillbillies debuts on CBS. In a later season, Jethro sees Goldfinger in a movie theater and decides that being a “Double-Naught” spy is his life’s calling.

Oct. 1: Federal marshals escort James Meredith, first African American student at the University of Missippi, as he registers at the school.

Oct. 1: Johnny Carson, a few weeks short of his 37th birthday, hosts his first installment of The Tonight Show. He will remain as host until May 1992. At one point during Carson’s run on the show, he and Sean Connery reference how Carson’s debut on Tonight and Connery’s debut as Bond occurred at around the same time.

Oct. 5: Dr. No has its world premiere in London. The film won’t be shown in the U.S. until the following year. The movie will be re-released in 1965 (as part of a double feature with From Russia With Love) and in 1966 (as part of a double feature with Goldfinger).

Oct. 14: A U.S. U-2 spy plane discovers missile sites in Cuba, beginning the Cuban Missile Crisis. The crisis will bring the U.S. and Soviet Union to the brink of World War III.

Oct. 22: President John F. Kennedy makes a televised address, publicly revealing the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba.

Oct. 28: Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev announces the U.S.S.R. is removing its missiles from Cuba.

Oct. 29: Ian Fleming begins three days of meetings with television producer Norman Felton concerning a show that will eventually be known as The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (source: Craig Henderson) Fleming’s main contribution of the meetings is that the hero should be named Napoleon Solo.

Nov. 7: Richard Nixon loses race for governor of California, tells reporters “you won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore.” He’ll be back.

Freddie Young and David Lean

Dec. 10: The David Lean-directed Lawrence of Arabia has its world premiere in London. The film’s crew includes director of photography Freddie Young and camera operator Ernest Day, who will work on future James Bond movies. Young will photograph 1967’s You Only Live Twice. Day would be a second unit director (with John Glen) on The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.

For a more comprehensive list of significant 1962 events, CLICK HERE.

REVISIT: A Bond tour of NYC

New York City’s 21 Club in better days (photo courtesy of Gary J. Firuta)

With the 60th anniversary of the film Bond (and the 69th anniversary of the literary 007), the blog was reminded a mini-tour New York City locations.

The blog’s host more than a decade ago was Bond fan Gary J. Firuta. He lived in the greater New York area at the time.

(Originally published 2009)

Sardi’s, 234 West 44th Street: In Chapter 8 of Diamonds Are Forever, Felix Leiter takes Bond to lunch at Sardi’s and they dine in the upstairs dining room. The friends have some martinis (with a domestic vermouth).

At the time of the visit, the upstairs dining room was closed but the Spy Commander had an unofficial tour guide. We were told the bar had been moved since the time Fleming described the Bond-Leiter meal. Also, black paint had been removed from windows overlooking 44th Street, so now the restaurant has a great view of nearby theaters.

21 Club, 21 West 52nd Street: In chapter 9 of Diamonds, Bond and Tiffany Case have dinner. Tiffany has three martinis before dinner and as the main course arrives, so does “one of the famous Kriendler brothers who have owned ’21’ since it was the best speak-easy in New York.”

The 21 Club is known for the jockey statues outside. If you go, prepare to spend money. A cocktail costs about $15. There’s a men’s room attendant who has been with 21 for decades, complimenting patrons (for example telling middle-aged men they should remember to bring their ID next time or they might get carded).

Years later, toward the end of the Live And Let Die film, Bond (Roger Moore) tells Felix Leiter (David Hedison to remember to meet up for dinner the following night at the 21 Club. As Bond gets on a train with Solitaire (Jane Seymour), Felix asks why Bond is traveling by train. “Say goodbye to Felix, darling,” Bond says.

Unfortunately, the 21 Club has closed, a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bond questions: The reality show (?!) edition

James Bond is about the join the ranks of Survivor and The Masked Singer when it comes to reality shows. Well, if a March 25 story by Variety is to be believed, that may be in the cards.

Eon Productions, which makes the Bond films, has repeatedly said it’s not interested in 007 spinoffs. However, Variety says Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson are backing this project.

Naturally, the blog has questions.

WTF? Over the years, various ideas have been floated for alternatives for Eon’s film series.

For example, you could have low-key, faithful adaptations on TV of Ian Fleming’s original novels while still making the bigger, more expensive movies.

Eon has been consistent — no!

However, based on the description in the Variety story, Broccoli and Wilson have signed on to a crappy, obnoxious reality show. (Are there any other versions of a reality show?)

Did Broccoli and Wilson change their minds? Money has a way of causing people to reconsider.

Where do we go from here? On Jan. 1, 2021, the blog provided “unlikely” Bond spinoffs. The Adventures of Bill Tanner. Cooking With May. Golfing With Hawker.

Excuse me while I run down to the copyright office.

More details available about new Sherwood novel

More details have been released via Amazon concerning Double or Nothing, Kim Sherwood’s upcoming novel about new Double-O agents.

The novel’s listing on Amazon has some plot details and the names and code numbers of the new agents.

James Bond is missing…
007 has been captured, perhaps even killed, by a sinister private military company. His whereabouts are unknown.
 
Meet the new generation of spies…
Johanna Harwood, 003. Joseph Dryden, 004. Sid Bashir, 009. Together, they represent the very best and brightest of MI6. Skilled, determined and with a licence to kill, they will do anything to protect their country.
 
The fate of the world rests in their hands…
Tech billionaire Sir Bertram Paradise claims he can reverse the climate crisis and save the planet. But can he really? The new spies must uncover the truth, because the future of humanity hangs in the balance.
 
Time is running out.

Johanna Harwood also is the name of a screenwriter on the first two James Bond films produced by Eon Productions, Dr. No and From Russia With Love. She’s kind of the forgotten creative figure of the early Bond movies.

Ian Fleming Publications announced in November that Sherwood would pen three novels featuring new agents. Double or Nothing is scheduled to be published Sept. 1.