Anthony Horowitz has carved himself a nice little here: crafting well-researched thrillers casting 007 as the central character. Cleverly, Horowitz sets the stories in the fifties/sixties: the Cold War is entering its chilly stage, and the villains Bond faces are nationalistic (as is Bond) and ruthless, but lack unlimited funding and invisible cars (as does Bond).
The story picks up where The Man Golden Gun leaves off: Bond suffers a head injury during his mission to kill Scaramanga. He falls into the hands of the KGB who torture him, brainwash him, then dispatch him to London to murder the head of MI6, his boss, known as ‘M’.
The plan fails, Bond is reprogrammed, and is then sent back to Moscow to foil a plot to increase tensions between Russia and the west.
Needless to say, I enjoyed it. The book is written in Horowitz’s terse, workmanlike style, with little time given to flowery prose and literary navel-gazing. He does set the scene well though, with detailed descriptions of Russian locations that help reinforce the realism. The pace is moderately fast, helped by the lack of superfluous detail. Bear in mind, however, this is set in the sixties, so Bond’s attitude to women is very much of the time – and that’s not too dissimilar to his attitude towards Russians.
If you’re a Bond fan, then this book won’t disappoint.