Trigger Mortis: A James Bond Novel
By Anthony Horowitz
4 / 5
Bond Is Back!
Thrilling racing around the forbidding Nürburgring racing track, rocket launches at Wallops Island and the tense finale that occurs in the labyrinthine railway network beneath New York City, which all contribute to a bloody brilliant Bond novel. There is of course, the inclusion of inevitably beautiful and tempting women, coupled with another aspect that is trademark Bond material, a diabolical enemy who is intent on causing destruction and loss of life. Trigger Mortis is a fantastic novel by Anthony Horowitz who has combined all those elements with the return of the dastardly organisation SMERSH to create an intoxicating story that would make Ian Fleming proud.
Horowitz has written so faithfully that this could quite easily be a lost Ian Fleming work that has been discovered and released. The writing style is absolutely on point in every chapter, paragraph, sentence and word. He has described everything from a bottle of wine to race car in fascinating detail which is a hallmark of Fleming. Even the outdated, politically incorrect phrases that feature in Fleming’s novels are included here, but they are included and handled in a seemingly less offensive way to conform to modern sensibilities. Though Trigger Mortis is very much in keep with the 1950s Bond books, Horowitz has managed to handle sensitive words to a modern audience deftly while maintaining the attitudes held by many of the time.
The Bond Girls. Bond has 3 Bond Girls to contend with in Trigger Mortis, and all three of them exude traits such as smartness, quick-wittiness and none are taken for fools. Pussy Galore who is introduced at the start after following on from events in Goldfinger which are explained briefly but effectively. Though she only features briefly at the start as Bond’s live-in girlfriend, she is still caught in some terrifying action and departs on her own terms. Number 2 is Logan Fairfax, the highly capable motor car driver that teaches Bond about driving the Maserati that he’ll be driving at the Nürburgring in a few days time. She is competent and sure of herself in her work and personal life and in Logan, Bond has met a woman who can more than hold her own. But the most important Bond girl in Trigger Mortis is Jeopardy Lane, who was a fantastic inclusion as a female interest for Bond who has the remarkable ability to get away from Bond. She is masterfully characterised by Horowitz to prove that she is just as talented, capable and skilled as the British Secret Agent. Bond’s patronising carnal attitude to women that is idiosyncratic of Bond in all of Fleming’s novels is again in full swing, however his ego is given a bit of a hit with Logan and Jeopardy both proving to be headstrong, proficient and smart women that more than prove a match for James. It would be refreshing to see a character like Jeopardy Lane included in the upcoming Bond films as I enjoyed the camaraderie, competitiveness and chemistry between her and Bond.
The villain is the unfeeling Korean Jai Seung Sin, whose interests align with SMERSH who are intent on winning the Space Race while Sin wants revenge on America. Sin and SMERSH combine to ensure that the American’s programme suffers a setback that will set their space programme back decades while also delivering a hammer blow to the American people. Sin’s motives are different to SMERSH’s, but he acts on his with equal ferocity and planning. He reveals to Bond, the heartbreak and psychological torture he endures during the Korean War, which has shaped Sin into the man that will deliver an equally merciless act in revenge for the traumas the American Army caused him and his countrymen. Another key facet of Sin’s character is the devious card game he has manipulated from a Korean deck of cards in order to determine the manner of death that the unfortunate victim is about to suffer, a sure sign of a Bond villain.
The novel flows brilliantly, especially events at the Nürburgring and Sin’s various buildings. Horowitz has perfectly imitated Fleming’s exquisite eye for detail in all manner of things from food and wine, to motoring, weaponry and Space Age technology. Action sequences in the novel exude the perfect balance of tension and excitement which make the novel such a thrilling and compelling read, but he also intersperses it with changes of scenery which provides some relief but also makes the reader hungry for whatever is next.
Bond fans can rejoice as Horowitz has stepped forward as Fleming’s heir to Bond, and we can hope that he continues on from this successful attempt to bring a 1950s Bond to a 21st century audience. A great read, fully deserving the 4 out of 5 stars.