Forever and a Day ★★★★☆
Genre(s) | Espionage, Thriller
Goodreads Rating | 4.18
Humpo Show Rating | 4.20
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
007 is dead.
A British Secret Service Agent is found dead in the waters of Marseille. M, the head of the Secret Service, has entrusted the task of finding out who killed 007 to a newly promoted agent, who also has the task of uncovering the shady and intriguing happenings of the criminal network in the French Riviera. That man is James Bond. In his first official outing as a double-0 agent with a ‘licence to kill’, his investigations bring him face to face with a Corsican drug lord, an American millionaire, and a seductive but dangerous ex-spy.
Horowitz shows that he was absolutely the right choice to continue writing Bond novels on behalf of the Ian Fleming Estate as he capably manages to bring 1950s Fleming to the page again. He is especially astute when he concerns himself with the intricate details pertaining to Bond’s choices in food, drink and weaponry. The writing in Forever and a Day is intelligible and swift, without a moment wasted in the pursuit of delivering a story that packs a punch. With plenty of page space afforded to Bond’s last assignment before becoming a double-0 agent, the beginnings of his investigation in France, and the cat-and-mouse between him and the curious Sixtine. Horowitz has managed to use these opening events to convey the feelings Bond has on his first assignment where he has licence to kill, as well as the obstacles that are in the way of his investigation.
The “Secrets and Lies” chapter was one of my favourites. Sixtine’s life story was utterly absorbing and I was bewitched, like Bond, in the history of how she became the woman she is now. Her dialogue with Bond in this chapter was engaging and it was refreshing to read about a ‘Bond Girl’ that is as equally as interesting as Commander Bond. Sixtine’s enters the narrative as a mysterious, confident and dangerous woman, and while she retains those qualities after this chapter, she becomes more three-dimensional and her own storyline becomes important to the reader as she exhibits the human chink in an otherwise flawless persona. “She fell briefly silent, looking into her wine glass as if it could provide some window into her past life.”
Jean-Paul Scipio, the Corsican gangster running a drug operation from out of the French Riviera, provides Bond with a greedy and threatening adversary. His caricature appearance is reminiscent of a villain that Fleming would create, but his methods that he uses to intimidate and abuse any threats to his interests were terrifyingly well written by Horowitz as he puts his own mark on the Bond franchise. The first time we encounter the man is in a chapter that I read without blinking as well as gripping the book like a vice. The very real sense of danger is high in “The Acid Test” chapter, and I really feared for Bond, something you don’t always feel as we all know that he’ll somehow save the day. However, Horowitz’s tactic worked well in creating a situation in which our imagination would be turned up to the max as Scipio talks through his methods in exacting as much damage to Bond and the British Secret Service. “[Bond] tried to block out thoughts of what was to come, but inside he was screaming.” If he scares 007, then he scares me!
The the last third was breathtakingly good. As we expect, Bond finds himself in mortal danger, the plans of the villain become apparent, and the odds increasingly get stacked against Bond. Forever and a Day is no different, but Horowitz manages to create a situation that really makes the reader sweat as Bond is tested like never before. The setting had been well established in previous chapters so we already know all about the intricacies of the place, and we can visualise all the action that takes place clearly. I raced through the pages like Bond races through the streets in his Jaguar XK 120. The action was excellent, and we experience a plethora of emotions during the concluding chapters, the one that I remembered clearly was anticipation. Anticipation for what might happen. Anticipation for what I think will happen. Anticipation at the thought of another twist to the plot. Horowitz keeps us on edge throughout and it makes for riveting read. Bond at its best!
Forever and a Day is a thrilling prequel to Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, and it contains every aspect that is crucial for a successful Bond novel: heart-stopping action, a seductive and unpredictable female companion, a villain that has evil running through his veins, and a plot that keeps the readers’ interest from the opening chapters and never lets go.