Forever and a Day – Book Review
Of the two officially-commissioned novels by the Fleming Estate, this is by far Anthony Horowitz’s best Bond. This time, with only a chapter’s worth of original material (that fits more convincingly into the narrative than in Trigger Mortis), Horowitz takes a massive risk with a prequel to Casino Royale and succeeds.
Casino Royale was instantly a national hit – with a three-run sell-out and the creation of a fifties icon – so to write its prequel is no amenable task to appease the Bond nuts for an author. As a nut myself, he has met and succeeded my expectations. With a new cast of memorable villains, the corpulent Corsican drug-dealer Scipio, and perhaps the strongest female-lead in Madame Sixtine, we gain an understanding into why Bond is the way he is. A little wet behind the ears in this outing, but Sixtine irons him out and evolves Ian Fleming’s greatest anti-hero into 007. At times it feels forced, with Sixtine being the connoisseur of the shaken martini, the Morland cigarette and the owner of the gunmetal cigarette case. But at other times it feels appropriate, Madame Sixtine is truly a heroine of the #MeToo age.
I imagine that Fleming wouldn’t entirely approve of this book, but the nods to his work and the care given to studying the man’s style and craft would be commended. Though Horowitz is perhaps the closest to Fleming’s precise and informative style, topping Benson and Gardner, he does lack an eye for detail that only a true journalist like Fleming possesses. As an enormous fan of the Alex Rider books, I know Horowitz has it in him, but I imagine deadlines and editing puts a stopper on more in-depth precision. That eye for detail and movement towards research is something I intend to do in the Bond I’m currently writing (with any luck). But still, the book doesn’t feel half as rushed as Trigger Mortis nor does it fall into cliché. Still, the book rattles along at break-neck speed, corkscrewing into unexpected plot twists before changing into fifth-gear with the killer last line, paving the way for “the spy story to end all spy stories”. Would recommend to any Bond fan.