Website last updated: 6-9-2018

Review of Forever and a Day by Anthony Horowitz (a 007 novel)

By: Brian Smith
Published:
2018-05-21
Forever and a Day Anthony Horowitz recension
Even before we delve into the new Bond adventure, it must be noted how good Kris Potter’s jacket design is and how pleasing it is to see the return of the Eric Dukes-designed colophon for Jonathan Cape. It’s strange how fans of the films get in a tizzy over the placing of the gun-barrel when all that’s required to bring a smile to the face of a literary Bond fan is a fruit bowl on the book’s spine. Credit is also due to Ian Fleming Publications Limited. They have done a splendid job with Bond ever since the publication of SILVERFIN redefined their approach to the character. In doing so, they have attracted the talents of highly regarded best-selling authors to write stories within the orbit of the Fleming originals.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the Bond books of Messrs Faulks, Boyd and Deaver (one of my favourite thriller writers). However, in terms of capturing total authenticity, Mr Horowitz, in my opinion, has come closest. Aided, no doubt, by the inspiration of original Ian Fleming material and integrating some of it into his narrative, he clearly understands the language and construction of an Ian Fleming novel.

Set not long before the events of CASINO ROYALE, this story opens with a shocking first line from M: ‘So, 007 is dead.’ Agent 007 has been murdered in Marseilles while looking into the activities of a Corsican syndicate. M decides to bring forward the promotion of a new member to the Double-0 section, James Bond. He has already killed a Japanese cipher expert in New York and is about to carry out the second assassination that will confirm his Double-0 status. We find him in a restaurant in Stockholm contemplating the killing he is about to perform, but not in the morbid way a slightly older Bond broods over the death of the Mexican in the opening chapter of GOLDFINGER. This Bond takes pride at being the best at everything he does, including state-sponsored murder. He wants to earn his Double-0 number more than anything in the world. This is the fresher Bond we are familiar with from the first half of the Fleming series, when the world was not enough. Bond is therefore subtly different to the character Horowitz writes about in TRIGGER MORTIS. Very clever.

We find out how May comes to be in Bond’s employ. As a Scot who has been on the receiving end of the odd ‘skelped bahoochie’ in my time, I can attest that here, May is at her most genuinely Scottish! Bond meets the officious Paymaster Captain Troop, RN Retired for the first time (Troop will later be at loggerheads with Bond in FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE over the Burgess and Maclean case, and the scourge of Jane Moneypenny in Samantha Weinberg’s GUARDIAN ANGEL). Bond also has his first encounter with Loelia Ponsonby. The office scenes are uncontrived, and Bond displays a genuine touch of humour and compassion towards his new secretary.

Horowitz’s description of life in the Regents Park headquarters is faithful to Fleming, especially in the detail. Bond is escorted to his numberless office on the eighth floor; 0011 is away and 008 is resting after a mission (what does he get up to? 008 spin-off, IFP?); the light above M’s door (green, as in the early books) and ticking off the files as he reads them. Bond is up to speed by the time the telephone rings and Bill Tanner, the Chief of Staff who has been Bond’s friend since the war, invites him to the ninth floor, and his first meeting with M. In reference to Bond’s recent work, M reveals that he is never comfortable dealing with the Swedes (but then, he’s never met Anders Frejdh). Bond is told he will take over 007’s investigation. Just as M is about to assign Bond’s number, Bond requests he takes the same one as the fallen agent. The number 007, it seems, will live twice. Horowitz efficiently sets up Bond’s new place within the service and by Chapter 5 he is on his way to Marseilles to pick up the trail. During the investigation Bond takes on a Corsican gangster, a millionaire American businessman, will cross paths with a CIA agent and meet the mysterious Joanne Brochet, aka Sixtine. The villain’s motivation is still relevant today and the female protagonist has a particularly interesting and well developed back story.

FOREVER AND A DAY does not feel like an origin story per se. Bond is a seasoned secret service operative; it’s just that he’s new to the Double-0 section. Horowitz is rarely predictable (even though this is the second continuation novel to feature a house called Shame Lady, here the name has a subtext to it). When Bond is recognised by the casino manager in Monte Carlo, it is not for the reason we may think (Bond’s pre-war success against the Roumanian team with the invisible ink is never mentioned) and leads in to the ‘Russian Roulette’ story created by Ian Fleming.

The Mediterranean coast between Marseilles and Monte Carlo provides the perfect backdrop to the adventure. With its undercurrent of 1950s criminal culture combined with glamour and danger, this feels like vintage Bond of the highest calibre. As it’s a prequel, suffice to say Bond prevails, but only through a combination of strength, determination, intuition and intellect. The erosion of his body and soul begins here.

When I wrote the review for TRIGGER MORTIS, I declared it to be the best James Bond continuation novel ever. Its position has just been usurped. FOREVER AND A DAY is a stylish and clever thriller. 16 out of 16!


Review by Brian Smith. Copyright © 2018 From Sweden with Love. All rights reserved.

Editor's Note:
Available Forever and a Day editions:

>UK hardback edition
>UK audio book edition
>Kindle edition

For more information about Anthony's books, check out his official website at www.AnthonyHorowitz.com

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