A sampling of early reviews for Trigger Mortis

Trigger Mortis cover

Trigger Mortis cover

Reviews for the newest James Bond continuation novel, Anthony Horowitz’s Trigger Mortis, are starting to come in.

This blog has already run a guest review from the Ian Fleming Foundation’s Brad Frank. What follows is a sampling of other reviews.


James Bond is a synchronic spy. From the day that the first Bond thriller, “Casino Royale,” was published in 1953, all the way through to this year’s forthcoming “Spectre” movie, Bond has always been thoroughly modern, with all the latest toys. In “Trigger Mortis: A James Bond Novel,” however, Bond ventures somewhere Ian Fleming, or the movie producer Albert Broccoli, would never go: back, into the past.


So although “Trigger Mortis” begins two weeks after the end of “Goldfinger,” its protagonist isn’t — could never be — the same Bond. The new Bond is friends with a gay man, chivalrously sleeps on the couch when a woman doesn’t want to have sex with him and even, at one point, drinks a bottle of water at lunch.


Anthony Horowitz knows exactly what ingredients are required to satisfy even the most gluttonous James Bond fan and serves them up with the confidence of the self-confessed aficionado that he is.


Horowitz is far from the first to take up Ian Fleming’s most famous creation. Sebastian Faulks, Jeffery Deaver and Kingsley Amis have all gone before. But there are new elements that Horowitz brings that make this a particularly enjoyable, and familiar, read.


There is a thin line between pastiche and homage, however. Horowitz is an unabashed fan of both Bond and Fleming, as much of his work to date clearly shows, and his plot in less capable hands could easily have erred on the wrong side.


(Ian) Fleming’s estate has made a canny choice in Horowitz, who proved in his (Arthur) Conan Doyle pastiche The House of Silk – which saw Sherlock Holmes battling a VIP paedophile ring – that he can convincingly replicate another author’s world without sticking too slavishly to his template.

In Trigger Mortis Horowitz has had the ingenious idea of showing us Bond in the act of doing something which we know he does a lot, but Fleming would never have dreamed of writing: all the “It’s not you, it’s me” business of dumping his conquests.

GUEST REVIEW: Trigger Mortis

Trigger Mortis cover

Trigger Mortis cover

By Brad Frank, Guest Writer
Anthony Horowitz’s Trigger Mortis proves to be one of the better James Bond continuation novels, though not because of what has been emphasized in the novel’s publicity.

The book has been heavily hyped as featuring the return of Pussy Galore. It’s set in 1957, immediately following the novel Goldfinger, with Pussy having moved in with Bond in London.

She is not, however, the primary heroine of the book, and actually has nothing to do with the main story line. Two of Goldfinger’s Korean thugs make an attempt on her life out of revenge, but Bond comes to the rescue. Soon afterwards, she leaves Bond to resume her lesbian lifestyle (as in the original book), having appeared in less than one fourth of the novel.

Ian Fleming’s unpublished story outline “Murder on Wheels” is the basis for the first third of the new novel (CLICK HERE for the back story). It concerns a SMERSH plot to assassinate a famous driver during a Grand Prix race. (The motivation behind this is unclear.)

Bond is assigned to protect him, under cover as a wealthy amateur racing enthusiast, who has bought his way into the race.

Prior to the race, Bond brushes up on his driving skills with the help of Logan Fairfax, the daughter of another famous driver who was killed at Le Mans in 1955, in a real life tragedy that claimed the lives of 83 people, mostly spectators. (One wonders why they wouldn’t simply recruit a professional racer instead … but then, Bond wouldn’t have a mission.)

The would-be assassin is a Russian driver. Needless to say, Bond thwarts the plot. Horowitz describes the race with great skill, evoking similar imagery to Fleming’s descriptions of car chases.

Following the race, all of the drivers and VIPs are invited to a party at the residence of a wealthy patron, Sin Jai-Seong, aka Jason Sin, a Korean SMERSH agent who was not only behind the assassination attempt, but has something much grander in the works.

At the party, Bond meets a journalist named Jeopardy Lane, who turns out to be a U.S. Treasury agent. Together, they discover Sin’s complicated plot to sabotage a U.S. rocket test. This was timely stuff for 1957. The Space Race was about to begin, with the Soviet launch of Sputnik later that year, with America’s Project Mercury soon to follow.

As most of the later Bond authors do, there is a certain amount of name-dropping of Fleming characters, intended to invoke nostalgia, and/or to convince the reader that this is a genuine Bond novel.

Like Sebastian Faulks (Devil May Care) and William Boyd (Solo) before him, whose recent Bond novels were set in the ’60s, Horowitz includes numerous contemporary references, intended to solidly fix the story in a specific historical year. He manages to insert both of these elements fairly naturally, and is less in-your-face about it than his predecessors.

In a very Fleming-esque scene, the villain Sin tells Bond his life story, and his motivation for the sabotage. Horowitz winks at the reader, acknowledging the obvious cliché from both books and films, by having Sin tell Bond “I will admit that it gives me some satisfaction in relating it … (and) in a short while, you will be dead.”

Goldfinger (in both the book and the film) used mostly Korean help, and this is mentioned in the current novel. Since Jason Sin is also Korean, I was expecting some connection between them to ultimately be revealed, but nothing like that is suggested or implied. It might have been better had Jason Sin been of a different ethnicity.

On the whole, Trigger Mortis is one of the better continuation novels. I would place it among the top 10 percent of them all. Definitely recommended.

Comments below contain spoilers.

An attempt on Pussy Galore’s life is one of the weaker points of the novel. Two of Goldfinger’s Korean henchmen kidnap her, and paint her gold. It’s obviously meant to be ironic, but comes across as a rather lame attempt to invoke a Fleming-ism.

What really spoils the scene is how it perpetuates the myth of skin suffocation. A few years ago “Mythbusters” proved that, while being covered in paint is unpleasant and over time can lead to heat exhaustion due to blockage of the pores, it would not be fatal or even particularly harmful in the short term. The fact is that skin does not breathe.

And yet in the novel, as they’re covering her with the paint, Pussy almost immediately collapses and begins gasping, implying that she will survive for only a few minutes once her body is completely covered. Of course, Bond interrupts them before it gets that far.

A major plot point hinges on a bomb being set off in the New York subway, with a replica of the test rocket planted there to give the false impression that it went off course and was responsible for the explosion.

There are two problems with this. The launch site is 330 miles from New York, and the rocket is easily tracked while in flight. And the massive amount of C-4 explosive used –- supposedly enough to demolish a building –- would totally obliterate the fake rocket.

Fleming certainly had his share of implausibilities, so despite these criticisms, so despite all that, I highly recommend Trigger Mortis.

© 2015, Brad Frank


Brad Frank is a director of the Ian Fleming Foundation

Trigger Mortis: a preview

Trigger Mortis cover

Trigger Mortis cover

By Brad Frank, Guest Writer
Trigger Mortis, by Anthony Horowitz, the newest James Bond continuation novel, comes out Sept. 8. This one is unique because it’s based on an original story outline by Ian Fleming, and brings back one of his most famous characters.

Fleming had always been interested in seeing James Bond on the screen, and throughout the 1950s he considered various deals for the film and/or television rights. A live TV adaptation of his first novel, Casino Royale, aired on CBS in 1954.

In 1956, Fleming was commissioned to create a TV series called “Commander Jamaica.” It was never produced, so he changed the main character’s name and other details, and used it as the basis for his 1958 novel Doctor No.

Another network proposed a James Bond TV series, and Fleming wrote a handful of episode outlines. When that project fell through, he adapted three of them into short stories, which were published in the 1960 collection For Your Eyes Only. Fleming’s habit of adapting unproduced scripts would come back to haunt him during the extended Thunderball legal case.

Fleming’s unused TV outlines have never been seen outside of the archives of Ian Fleming Publications until now. Trigger Mortis is based on one of them, originally called “Murder on Wheels.” Trigger Mortis takes place immediately following the events of Goldfinger, and features that book’s heroine, Pussy Galore.

Goldfinger is arguably the most famous Bond story of all time, although it’s known mainly from the 1964 film starring Sean Connery and Honor Blackman, which differs somewhat from the book.

The first obvious difference between the novel and film is that Bond’s friend, CIA agent Felix Leiter does not appear in the early parts of the book. He only shows up at the very end, during the raid on Fort Knox. Also notable is that in the book, Goldfinger works for SMERSH, using his gold to pay operatives, while the film presents him as a totally independent criminal who has partnered with China.

In the film, Jill Masterson (Masterton in the book) is adamant that Goldfinger pays her only to be seen with him, nothing else. It’s quite the opposite in the novel, in which Goldfinger fantasizes about literally making love to gold. Her death via gold paint isn’t revealed until much later, when Bond (and the reader) learns about it from her sister. And while the golden girl is one of the most memorable images in all of film, upon analysis it makes no sense outside of the broader context.

Fleming, who was very skilled at describing games or competitions, presents all 18 holes of the golf match in wonderful detail. The film reduces this to only three holes, but the results are the same. In the novel, Oddjob is not Goldfinger’s caddy, only his chauffeur. Following the game, Goldfinger in the novel invites Bond to dinner at his home, where we learn about Oddjob’s Karate skills and trick bowler hat.

As in the film, Bond tails Goldfinger to Geneva, meeting Jill’s sister Tilly Masterton along the way. When they are captured spying on Goldfinger’s factory, Tilly is NOT killed –- she survives almost to the end of the novel. The famous laser beam table is merely an old-fashioned circular saw table in the book. Goldfinger inexplicably hires Bond and Tilly to work for him on Operation Grand Slam. In the film, he keeps Bond alive merely for show, knowing that they are being spied upon by Bond’s friends.

Pussy Galore is actually a relatively minor character in the novel, who has little contact with Bond until the end. She is not Goldfinger’s private pilot –- in fact she isn’t a pilot at all, but rather the head of an all-female criminal organization. She first appears along with the other crime bosses who Goldfinger wants to join his big plan.

It has often been stated that the film improved on the book’s plot by having Goldfinger irradiate Fort Knox with an atomic bomb, thus increasing the value of his own gold reserves, rather than trying to steal it. This may be true, and yet there are many other changes in the film which make little or no sense. I’ve already mentioned Jill’s death. Another example is that, in the novel, while Goldfinger does murder the one gangster who refuses to join him, the others, along with Pussy, become active members in the attack on Fort Knox.

The film merely hints, with one line of dialogue, that Pussy may be a lesbian. The novel makes this quite explicit. She and Tilly are obviously attracted to each other. Pussy does not help Bond thwart Goldfinger’s plans, and only turns to his side in the last two chapters.

The novel concludes with their rescue from the crashed plane, which in the book was a hijacked commercial airliner, rather than Goldfinger’s private jet. Oddjob, not Goldfinger, gets sucked out of the airplane window. To justify her conversion, Pussy tells Bond “I never met a man before,” and Bond promises her a course of T.L.C. – Tender Loving Care — treatment.

Fleming would usually, during the opening chapters of his next novel, tie up any loose ends from the previous one. But he never again mentioned Pussy Galore, or what happened between her and Bond after the novel’s conclusion. That conveniently left the door open for her to reappear in Trigger Mortis.

© 2015, Brad Frank

Brad Frank is a director of the Ian Fleming Foundation.

Covers for new 007 comic book revealed

One of the alternate covers for the new James Bond comic book

One of the alternate covers for the new James Bond comic book

The new James Bond comic book published by Dynamite Entertainment will have some alternate covers, COMIC BOOK RESOURCES REPORTED.

Here’s an excerpt of the story:

When he returns to comics this November, not only will 007’s new Dynamite Entertainment series be helmed by Warren Ellis and Jason Masters, it will feature an A-List roster of artists providing variant covers for the first issue.

CBR News has the exclusive first look at the covers for “James Bond” #1, the first chapter of “VARGR,” a story that will find the world-famous secret agent fighting for his life in the wake of another 00 agent’s demise. Illustrated by Dom Reardon, Jock, Gabriel Hardman, Stephen Mooney, Dan Panosian, Francesco Francavilla, and Glenn Fabry, the covers call back to the character’s pulp roots.

“Variant,” or alternate, covers are a way to entice buyers of comic books to purchase multiple copies of the same issue.

James Bond will provide the climax for “The Year of the Spy.” In September, the new 007 continuation novel, Trigger Mortis, is scheduled to be published as well as a collection of unauthorized Bond stories in Canada, where Ian Fleming’s original literary stories are in the public domain.

SPECTRE, the 24th James Bond film, will debut in the U.K. in October and in the U.S. on Nov. 6.

To see the Comic Book Resources story, CLICK HERE.

Ian Fleming, without whom, etc.

Our annual post.

On the 51st anniversary of the author’s death, this headline has a double meaning.

Obviously, without Ian Fleming there would be no James Bond novels and thus no James Bond movies.

What’s more, had Fleming not written Thrilling Cities, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. wouldn’t have occurred. Television producer Norman Felton originally was contacted about trying to turn that book into a series. Felton didn’t see a series but ad-libbed a pitch. That led to meetings in late October 1962 between Felton and Fleming in New York.

In the end, there’s not a whole lot of Fleming in U.N.C.L.E. But he was still a catalyst for the show and without that series, there’d be no movie coming out this weekend.


Creative team for new 007 comic book announced

Cover image released by Dynamite Entertainment

Cover image released by Dynamite Entertainment

Writer Warren Ellis and artist Jason Masters will team up on the initial story arc of a new James Bond comic book, COMIC BOOK RESOURCES REPORTED.

The duo will work on a six-issue arc called VARGR, CBR said, citing an announcement. “James Bond returns to London after a mission of vengeance in Helsinki, to take up the workload of a fallen 00 agent… but something evil is moving through the back streets of the city, and sinister plans are being laid forBond in Berlin,” reads a synopsis that’s part of the announcement.

The new 007 comic is being published by Dynamite Entertainment and licensed from Ian Fleming Publications, run by the author’s heirs and which controls the rights to the literary 007. The first issue is scheduled to come out in November, CBR said. That’s the same month that SPECTRE, the 24th James Bond film, arrives in theaters.

The British-born Ellis has worked for various comic publishers, including Marvel and DC.

“We knew that we had to start with a British writer, which narrowed the field quite a bit,” Joseph Rybandt, a Dynamite senior editor, told CBR. “After initial discussions, Warren had some concerns and we actually met with him in London, along with the Ian Fleming Estate, to alleviate those concerns. From there, he started writing.”

The editor also told CBR the publisher hopes to have Ellis’ service beyond the first arc and “get a year out of Warren for sure.”

To read CBR’s full story, CLICK HERE. You can also CLICK HERE for a Bleeding Cool story with samples of Jason Masters’ art. Thanks to Stringray on Twitter for pointing all this out.

Some questions about a James Bond musical

Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman

Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman

It’s been a few days since stories came out that there are plans for a James Bond stage musical to be produced by Merry Saltzman, daughter of Harry Saltzman, co-founder of Eon Productions.

Since then, there haven’t been any more details about James Bond: The Musical. We can’t offer many answers, but we’re more than willing to pose the questions.

Where did Merry Saltzman get the rights for this project? Stories in BROADWAY WORLD.COM and PLAYBILL said Saltzman had “secured the rights” for a stage production. But where from?

Ian Fleming Publications, run by 007 creator Ian Fleming’s heirs, controls the literary rights. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Danjaq (holding company for the Broccoli-Wilson family) control the film rights.

Once upon a time, Harry Saltzman had half of Danjaq. But he sold his share in 1975 to United Artists because of financial troubles. MGM acquired UA in the early ’80s.

Neither Ian Fleming Publications or MGM/Danjaq has publicly commented about Ms. Saltzman’s plans.

Is there any kind of precedent for this? In the 1980s, there was an attempt to mount a non-musical Casino Royale play but nothing happened.

Raymond Benson, who’d go on to write 007 continuation novels published from 1997-2002, was involved in the ill-fated project. He gave an interview in 2007 to the journal Paradigm. Excerpts were published by the MI6 JAMES BOND WEBSITE as well as the COMMANDER BOND FAN WEBSITE.

According to the interview excerpts, the Fleming literary estate commissioned the play. Benson adapted Ian Fleming’s first novel into a play but the literary estate opted not to continue. By the late 1990s, Danjaq/Eon secured the film rights to Casino.

Benson is quoted in the interview as saying the “stage play cannot be produced without the movie people’s permission…I own the copyright of the play, but the Fleming Estate owns the publication rights and the movie people own the production rights.”

It should be noted that Merry Saltzman’s project is supposed to have an all-new story, rather than adapt any Fleming novel, According to the Playbill story it will have “several Bond villains, plus some new ones.”

Is this a good idea? Decades ago, there were probably some who scoffed that Pygmalion could be made into a musical. Yet, My Fair Lady was made. Then again, some people thought a musical play featuring Spider-Man was a sure winner and things didn’t turn out that way.

For now, color us skeptical. Until we know more, however, here’s a 2012 video that our friends at The James Bond Dossier found a few days ago.


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