Website last updated: 7-5-2024

Book review: Red Nemesis by Steve Cole (a Young Bond novel)

By: Brian Smith
Red Nemesis Steve Cole
Red Nemesis (2017) – A mild spoilers review by Brian James Smith

Although Ian Fleming’s original novels were written for adults, they were greatly enjoyed by teenagers. Conversely, Young Bond is a series of teen books that adults can enjoy. Well written, entertaining, educational and authentic in spirit.

In Red Nemesis we catch up with James as he journeys with his Aunt Charmian from Edinburgh to London. She reveals that Andrew Bond’s rucksack has been recovered from the Aiguilles Rouges, location of his parent’s fatal climbing accident a few years earlier. His father has left a cryptic note contained within, intended for James’s late Uncle Max. James takes it to the Secret Intelligence Service, at their real-life 1930s H.Q. in Broadway. Quickly shown the door, James, who has copied the note, follows clues to the Mechta Academy in Millbank. As one would expect, it is not long before he gets into trouble and, after being knocked unconscious, awakens to finds himself in a police cell. Adam Elmhirst, the SIS agent last seen watching James from afar at the end of Shoot to Kill (2014), arrives on the scene. Soon the two of them are en route to Moscow (via Sweden) to follow the clues left by Andrew Bond. Thereafter, James amply displays ‘The Nelson Touch’ as he gets into, and out of, various predicaments. Along the way he picks up a girl, Anya Kalashnikova, the quintessential ‘bird with a wing down’. There is an array of villains for James to deal with, one of whom shares a talent with the Bond movie villain Necros [in the 1987 film The Living Daylights], but in a much more plot-driven and dramatic fashion.

The litmus test for these Young Bond books has to be their adherence to the Bond canon. Novels set after the Flemings can follow their own path or, in the case of Jeffery Deaver’s Carte Blanche (2011), reboot the Bond literary universe (indeed, Carte Blanche has its own subplot involving the death of Bond’s parents). Charlie Higson and Steve Cole, guided only by the Times obituary of James Bond in You Only Live Twice (1964), have created stories that do not contradict Fleming. In fact, too much information from Fleming could have had a detrimental effect; instead a few pages in You Only Live Twice have provided fertile ground in which to expand the James Bond myth.

Red Nemesis is the most consistently exciting, fast-paced read in the entire series. You may find yourself having to stop for a few minutes after each chapter, just to get your breath back, before succumbing to the next onslaught of mayhem and intrigue. Well done Steve Cole, and Ian Fleming Publications, for producing such a consistently first-rate series of books. Not only are they great reads, but the jacket designs and added value content in the hardbacks make these pleasing additions to the Bond book shelf.

Red Nemesis concludes this chapter in the life of James Bond, but with Eton’s Mr Merriot lurking in the background maybe, just maybe, Young Bond, or at least a younger version of Bond than Fleming's, could return.

Available Red Nemesis editions: >UK hardback / >UK paperback / >Kindle

Copyright © 2017 From Sweden with Love. All rights reserved.



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