Bob’s Pick: Forever and a Day by Anthony Horowitz
Who can resist the “tour de force” that is James Bond? As an agent for her majesty’s secret service, his debonair demeanor, his handsome features, his smart appearance, his dry British wit, all make him a man to be envied and admired. Yet, like a bejeweled cobra, though pleasing to the eye, he can strike his opponent with deadly precision and with the same predictable outcome.
There have been made twenty five films depicting this modern day icon. Though his films have progressed over sixty years, he has been reincarnated on several occasions and never seems to age over forty. He has had countless romantic liaisons and many seem to end badly, especially on the single occasion where he happened to get married. His opponents always appear to be larger than life and if his romances end badly, worse can be said about the fate of his enemies.
Let me digress. It’s been over five years since the last 007 Bond film was made and that film was “Spectre”. As a fan, watching a Bond film and seeing it end, always has me wishing for more. I feel like the orphan in “Oliver Twist” looking for his second bowl of oatmeal and being told there is no more. I wait with bated breath for the next Bond installment, “No Time to Die” due out in November. I just hope that he isn’t silenced again this year by his and everyone else’s worst enemy, the evil Doctor Covid Nineteen.
In the interim, to ease my hunger pangs for more action and adventure, I have delved into an audio novel about Bond’s origins entitled “Forever and a Day” by Anthony Horowitz. Using unpublished notes from Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming, the author has incorporated this material in the telling of his story set during the early 1950’s. It starts out a little slow but gathers momentum and eventually becomes quick paced and very entertaining.
All of his necessary accoutrements are there. From his Beretta to his Jaguar XKE to his Saville Row suits and dry martinis, shaken not stirred, Bond is prepared for any eventuality. Add in his exotic locales, Stockholm Sweden to Monte Carlo to the French Riviera, and voila, we have classic Bond. The only thing which would have been icing on the cake for this audio disk version of the novel is the addition of the traditional Bond music playing in the background (to further stoke one’s excitement). It goes something like this: “ dumdidadee, dum… dum, dum, dum, etc”. Ooh well, you may get it or you can say that this illustration was also just plain “dumb”, lol.
His primary opposition on this occasion are the Corsican mafia, a slightly insane American corporate millionaire and a beautiful femme fatale known as “Sixteen”. When listening to this story, I was reminded of two others, one the bond film, “Thunderball” and the other a non-Bond film set in the same location and era called, “The French Connection”. I won’t go into detail but say there are certain resemblances. There is also quite a surprising ending!
Though the story was a little revealing, I believe that Bond will still be a “secret” agent. Not much new is learned about Bond’s origins. We discover that he was not original; he was a replacement for a deceased agent who already had the designation, “007”. We also learn that he gained his appreciation of dry martinis and his brand of cigarettes from a lady friend. He also fought in the Second World War and had a background in Naval Intelligence.
The plot of this story was truly scintillating! With a little updating, it could probably be transformed into another blockbuster movie. Still, it wouldn’t do for the current Bond to be a veteran of the Second World War but maybe the Afghan War. I can’t imagine him driving around in a souped-up turbo charged wheel chair with machine guns and rockets blazing. Still, this book was like only getting a salty anchovy and Dixie cup full of water after travelling through the desert. Like many, I need my passion abated with the main “Bond” course, come this November! Until then, there is “No Time to Die”.