Jump to content


Photo

Trigger Mortis: Member Reviews (with poll)


  • Please log in to reply
58 replies to this topic

Poll: Trigger Mortis - Member Reaction

This is a public poll. Other members will be able to see which options you chose

Out of ten, insofar as that's a credible measure for an artistic endeavour, I think it's a solid...

You cannot see the results of the poll until you have voted. Please login and cast your vote to see the results of this poll.

Where this stands insofar as Bond continuations go...

You cannot see the results of the poll until you have voted. Please login and cast your vote to see the results of this poll.

Given that it can't really stand isolated and uncompared to other continuation Bonds, although as they've all written different books this is a redundant exercise, it's (multiple choices graciously allowed)...

You cannot see the results of the poll until you have voted. Please login and cast your vote to see the results of this poll.
Vote Guests cannot vote

#31 Guy Haines

Guy Haines

    Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3075 posts
  • Location:"Special envoy" no more. As of 7/5/15 elected to office somewhere in Nottinghamshire, England.

Posted 19 September 2015 - 06:22 AM

There's some similarities to Colonel Sun's plot. 
 
M captured and recovered - Pussy Galore captured and recovered.
Sun - Sin
Leaving bodies to frame Great Britain for a disaster - leaving rocket parts to blame the Unites States for a disaster.

I must admit I hadn't thought of that, but you are right. However, whereas the kidnap of M is central to the plot of Colonel Sun, the abduction of Pussy Galore is unfinished business from Goldfinger.

(I was too engrossed in the story and busy spotting nods in the direction of Ian Fleming to notice similarities with Kingsley Amis' novel.)
 
There's enough differentiation from Horowitz to make this unique, though.



#32 marktmurphy

marktmurphy

    Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 9038 posts
  • Location:London

Posted 20 September 2015 - 12:01 AM

I think you could probably join similarities from most works of Bond fiction; the rocket plot reminded me more of the movie of Octopussy's nuclear plot, for example.



#33 Messervy

Messervy

    Lt. Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPip
  • 1369 posts
  • Location:ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha

Posted 21 September 2015 - 10:56 AM

Got my copy today! You guys really made me want to read it.

So far I only read Colonel Sun as a continuation novel. So this will be my 2nd attempt at a non-Fleming litterary Bond. Let's see how it does...

#34 Matt_13

Matt_13

    Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5963 posts
  • Location:USA

Posted 28 September 2015 - 03:45 AM

A wonderful read. I really hope Horowitz gets another go at it, but due to his really poor remarks on Elba I have a hard time believing he will. Time to let Higson back into the game.

#35 Messervy

Messervy

    Lt. Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPip
  • 1369 posts
  • Location:ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha

Posted 28 September 2015 - 09:55 AM

So far, so good! I have a really good time reading it :) The style, the pace, the plot,... All great!



#36 Marcin

Marcin

    Sub-Lieutenant

  • Crew
  • Pip
  • 148 posts
  • Location:Poland

Posted 01 October 2015 - 01:54 PM

All right. I probably shouldn't have read all those enthusiastic reviews, because apparenty my expectations were way too high.

I'm dissapointed with Trigger Mortis. It's not a bad novel, probably better than the last three novels (definitely better than Devil May Care and Carte Blanche -- I'm not quite sure how to rank it compared to Solo).

It's a fun read mostly, with terrific prologue, really good first act, mediocre in halfway and rather poor ending.

The biggest problem I have with this novel is how to categorize it. It's not a spy novel. Despite SMERSH involvement, there is not much of spy game. It's not a good thriller either -- in my opinion it lacks real suspence.

The plot sometimes seems forced. The narrator must informe us why we should agree with the decisions made by main characters whilst they sould be self-explanatory (for example why a certain phone call is a good idea at one moment, terrible couple of moments later, and than, once again, necessary - ). To many times I had to ask myself a question: does it really make sense?
I wasn't impressed with characters either, though Sin has really solid background.
But than again, maybe there's something wrong with me :).
In any case, I hope Horowitz will continue writing Bond novels. He seems to have a good understanding of its essence.

Edited by Marcin, 01 October 2015 - 01:56 PM.


#37 MHazard

MHazard

    Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPip
  • 624 posts
  • Location:Boston, MA

Posted 07 October 2015 - 05:06 PM

I thought the book was entertaining and I liked the fact that it took place in the actual Bond time period.  I thought it was a much better book than Solo or Devil May Care (I detested Devil May Care).  But, I don't think it's anything special nor

do I have any great desire to read it a second time.  Writing Bond is tough.  If you stray too far from Fleming, then you are criticized for not being authentic and if you remain too close, you run the risk of imitation that pales next to the real thing.  What always strikes me about Fleming is that he was such a good writer-the chapters that aren't about action are frequently as interesting as those that are.  The trouble with trying to write Bond is that the so-called literary writers, like Faulks, don't understand how to do action sequences (or, I'd submit in Faulks' case, didn't understand Bond) and the thriller writers who can do action, don't write as well as Fleming about anything.  So, Trigger Mortis was a good book, it was entertaining.  But I can't get excited enough about it to write a full review.   It's sort of like watching an episode of The Man From UNCLE (for you youngsters, that was a t.v. show before it was a movie) instead of a good Bond film.  Entertaining, yes, but does it stick with you?  Not particularly.  I thought the villain was fairly well done but the [caution potential spoiler] auto race plot seemed contrived-yes, I know it may have been Ian's-and the part with the assasins and Pussy Galore didn't make sense and felt more like a contrived loose end.  But, having read a lot of fan fiction and tried some of my own, I'm thankful for a pleasant read that at least felt like I was reading about the same character as Fleming created. 



#38 Messervy

Messervy

    Lt. Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPip
  • 1369 posts
  • Location:ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha

Posted 08 October 2015 - 07:47 PM

So I finished the novel this week. And I must say I had a real treat!

I liked it tremendously. It's very well written, with solid plot and cliffhangers. The characters are nicely portrayed and are neither shallow nor useless. The pace never lets you down. The situations are very "bondian". And, most of all, the spirit really is there; one really has a sense of reading a Bond adventure as it should be delivered.

All in all, one hell of a good continuation novel!

#39 SecretAgentFan

SecretAgentFan

    Commander

  • Commanding Officers
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 8865 posts
  • Location:Germany

Posted 25 October 2015 - 11:36 AM

Finally finished it.  

 

For me, it was one of the best continuation novels - although "Colonel Sun" still is No.1 in my mind, mainly because that one really felt to me as if Fleming could have written it.

 

But "Trigger Mortis" is definitely fast paced, has lots of great scenes and held my attention up to the end.

 

Maybe it was nostalgia that made me embrace the return to the 60´s timeline - but judging from continuation novels taking place in contemporary times, the literary Bond works better in the timeframe in which he actually was conceived.

 

It´s a pity that this one did not sell as well as the definitely inferior "Devil may care".  I wonder how they will proceed - getting more high profile writers to write Bond?  Going contemporary Bond again?

 

 

One minor quibble from me: the Pussy Galore subplot did not work for me, it felt like the novel was going in one direction - and then it abruptly was decided that it should finish that strand.  If you cut it out you would not miss it at all.  And if you desperately want to show how Bond and his former love interest manage to live together (or rather how they can´t manage that) then it should have been only mentioned within an introductory chapter.



#40 AMC Hornet

AMC Hornet

    Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5786 posts

Posted 26 October 2015 - 12:30 AM

That was done in FRWL, re: Tiffany Case. We could assume that hers was a typical scenario, but here we see how one deals with a 'reformed' lesbian.



#41 SecretAgentFan

SecretAgentFan

    Commander

  • Commanding Officers
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 8865 posts
  • Location:Germany

Posted 26 October 2015 - 05:22 AM

Or how he does not deal with her.  ;)



#42 AMC Hornet

AMC Hornet

    Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5786 posts

Posted 26 October 2015 - 09:51 PM

"That might work."



#43 glidrose

glidrose

    Lt. Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPip
  • 2410 posts

Posted 26 October 2015 - 11:54 PM

6.5/10

 

SPOILERS ahead.

 

Too much a pastiche. I think it' says lots about this book that tho' I finished it several weeks ago I kept forgetting to post my comments.

 

From what I remember of the book, Horowitz does a generally good job imitating Fleming's style despite some anachronisms. But is this something really worth doing? A couple of stand-out moments: Sin's castle's creepy, decrepit 2nd floor with those paintings that have burned out eyes. The cards of death sequence backstory - pure Fleming. Sin's backstory is probably the most moving bit in a Bond novel I've read since the last chapter of YOLT.

 

But the rest of it was so soft and hazy. The first quarter or so moved at too slow a pace. The climactic subway chase fell flat - I kept thinking of the movie Mission Impossible 1.

 

I'm sure I had other opinions, I know I did. I just don't remember what they are.



#44 Simon

Simon

    Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5851 posts
  • Location:England

Posted 03 November 2015 - 08:46 AM

I am still enjoying it but, in the best traditions of catching out the Bond author, Horowitz mentions travelling along the motorway to Devizes.

 

But in 1959 (maybe 1960), the M4 from London to Swindon wasn't open.  Indeed, by '59, there was only a bit of flyover in the Chiswick area which by then was not classified as a motorway.  The bit around Maidenhead was opened in '61, and the rest of the English route completed by '71.



#45 Simon

Simon

    Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5851 posts
  • Location:England

Posted 09 November 2015 - 03:37 PM

Anyway, ignoring the above, have just finished the book and it is a delight.  Everything rang true, decidedly gripping, nice notes, saying goodbye to Jeopardy at the book's closing chapters - Loved it.

 

And, since I also loved SPECTRE, it has been a good Bond year for me!

 

A good Bond Year for you?



#46 Dustin

Dustin

    Commander

  • Commanding Officers
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5558 posts

Posted 09 November 2015 - 04:03 PM

I may write something on it when I'm through.

#47 glidrose

glidrose

    Lt. Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPip
  • 2410 posts

Posted 22 December 2015 - 08:16 PM

A reminder to everybody that it's okay to discuss Trigger Mortis. Don't feel shy. The green googly monster won't eat you if you venture in these parts. What's that? You forgot about it because you heard a Bond flick was about to hit the theatres? Tch, tch.

 

Really surprised how little attention this book is getting around these parts. Even Solo got more attention and threads here.



#48 Dustin

Dustin

    Commander

  • Commanding Officers
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5558 posts

Posted 22 December 2015 - 08:24 PM

I will give my opinion once I'm through. I do have a tendency but it would be unfair if I spoke out before reaching the end. I actually picked it up again yesterday...

#49 Dustin

Dustin

    Commander

  • Commanding Officers
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5558 posts

Posted 01 January 2016 - 07:56 PM

6.5/10

SPOILERS ahead.

Too much a pastiche. I think it' says lots about this book that tho' I finished it several weeks ago I kept forgetting to post my comments.

From what I remember of the book, Horowitz does a generally good job imitating Fleming's style despite some anachronisms. But is this something really worth doing? A couple of stand-out moments: Sin's castle's creepy, decrepit 2nd floor with those paintings that have burned out eyes. The cards of death sequence backstory - pure Fleming. Sin's backstory is probably the most moving bit in a Bond novel I've read since the last chapter of YOLT.

But the rest of it was so soft and hazy. The first quarter or so moved at too slow a pace. The climactic subway chase fell flat - I kept thinking of the movie Mission Impossible 1.

I'm sure I had other opinions, I know I did. I just don't remember what they are.

You already summed it up for me. Not a big fan of it; I'd likely give five or even four out of ten. Yes, it's still one of the better continuations but that doesn't say a lot. I'd rate it above SOLO but mainly because SOLO wasn't really a thriller which this at least resembles.

Also I absolutely hate it when a period novel is infused to the point of dripping with current day sensitivities. Giving Bond a colleague - and even a friend from the war - inside the Service with an openly homosexual lifestyle screams of playing to concerns of 2015. Naturally Bond must be shown as tolerant and enlightened towards the topic. That the character has no real impact on the plot makes it even worse, Horowitz' version of the gaying of Peter Guillam and just as stupid.

I hated the mention of Bond's Bentley having been to a Q-branch cure on M's orders; it's an absurd idea that M would hardly have had. But if the car has to acquire whatever treatment they can give it on tax payers' expense they could certainly do better than arm it with the same PPK Bond is wearing under his armpit anyway. Numerous other discrepancies, I'm too lazy to list them all.

Pussy Galore is simply there as a gimmick, sadly a stupid one. There is no real reason she is in this other than to tie it to Goldfinger. And of course to give Bond one more occasion to display how cool he is with homosexuals, fine. I never thought he was a homophobe, so the effect is a bit lost on me.

That the book contains original Fleming material - what we may assume is Chapter Seven: Murder on Wheels - illustrates another misunderstanding. There are any number of reasons why some works of an author remain unpublished, wrong time, wrong feel, wrong kind of voice or whatever. But by far the most common one is that it's simply not terribly good. That's why this stuff disappears in a drawer and in most cases that's for the better. The idea that SMERSH is having a go at Grand Prix drivers to push their own Russian racing car design is right up there with Marvel and DC. It may have worked with a TV episode, simply because in the thirty or forty minutes it would not have occurred to the audience that back then each year two of twentyfive drivers die anyway, so SMERSH would only have to wait till their worst competitors take themselves out of the equation. Provided their 'racing car' was any good to begin with. That M should send 007 to protect drivers who risk their lives each race out of their own free will stretches credulity in the tale. A better reason could and should have been found for Bond meeting SMERSH at the Nürburgring.

Also I'm having problems accepting Horowitz' attempt at trying to emulate the proper Bond elitism, mainly because Horowitz seems to lack it himself - and I don't mean this as a criticism of the author, to the contrary. But when it simply comes down to slagging every foreign design used by the enemy as 'ugly' or 'unsophisticated' this is childishly cheap and lacks, you guessed it, sophistication. It's one thing to bash German wine of the fifties as 'too sweet' - only if you do your research you will find German wines of the era, except the Spätlesen, used to be on the dry side. You can bash the Russian Makarov as 'ugly' - only it's a similar design to the Walther and I'm pretty sure Horowitz wouldn't be able to tell one from the other. Bond may not feel fine in Germany, that would be understandable, although Fleming never told us of the fact. But it must be a serious handicap given the fact Europe and Germany in particular must be one of Bond's main fields of interest in the Cold War.

The list goes on, numerous times I hear the Anthony Horowitz of 2015 muse about what he thinks Bond should have thought in 1956 (or was that '57? I forget...). And most of the time it just feels off. There is Jeopardy talking about her career in the US Secret Service and this could have been taken from any modern 2015 TV show. I hear Horowitz' wife made him change a lot about the women because she simply thought he displayed too much, I don't know, misogyny. Take note: Fleming displayed remarkable little misogyny for somebody accused of it so often. So when your wife thinks you used too much of it you did something wrong, badly wrong.

As I said, I could go on. But this is really turning into a hatchet job and I shall not waste my or your time on such. Read something worthwhile in the meantime, I shall do the same. Am happy for all the readers who thoroughly enjoyed TRIGGER MORTIS. Best of luck to whoever tries his or her hand next.

#50 blueman

blueman

    Lt. Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPip
  • 2219 posts

Posted 05 January 2016 - 06:56 AM

I guess count me among the great unwashed as I quite enjoyed TM.



#51 Jim

Jim

    Commander RNVR

  • Commanding Officers
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 14249 posts
  • Location:Oxfordshire

Posted 05 January 2016 - 07:10 AM

Was diverting, but - continuity games - this Bond is not the Bond of Goldfinger, the "immediate predecessor", where he is at his most objectionable. Chimes discordantly, as a result. The effect is of placing the smoothed-off Film Bond into a period piece. Not wholly sure about the merits of that. However, it's a quick read.

#52 sharpshooter

sharpshooter

    Commander

  • Executive Officers
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 8865 posts

Posted 05 January 2016 - 03:57 PM

I guess count me among the great unwashed as I quite enjoyed TM.


Colonel Sun is still better, but indeed, TM was good in my opinion.

#53 TheREAL008

TheREAL008

    Lt. Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPip
  • 1184 posts
  • Location:Brisbane

Posted 08 January 2016 - 02:45 PM

 

6.5/10

SPOILERS ahead.

Too much a pastiche. I think it' says lots about this book that tho' I finished it several weeks ago I kept forgetting to post my comments.

From what I remember of the book, Horowitz does a generally good job imitating Fleming's style despite some anachronisms. But is this something really worth doing? A couple of stand-out moments: Sin's castle's creepy, decrepit 2nd floor with those paintings that have burned out eyes. The cards of death sequence backstory - pure Fleming. Sin's backstory is probably the most moving bit in a Bond novel I've read since the last chapter of YOLT.

But the rest of it was so soft and hazy. The first quarter or so moved at too slow a pace. The climactic subway chase fell flat - I kept thinking of the movie Mission Impossible 1.

I'm sure I had other opinions, I know I did. I just don't remember what they are.

You already summed it up for me. Not a big fan of it; I'd likely give five or even four out of ten. Yes, it's still one of the better continuations but that doesn't say a lot. I'd rate it above SOLO but mainly because SOLO wasn't really a thriller which this at least resembles.

Also I absolutely hate it when a period novel is infused to the point of dripping with current day sensitivities. Giving Bond a colleague - and even a friend from the war - inside the Service with an openly homosexual lifestyle screams of playing to concerns of 2015. Naturally Bond must be shown as tolerant and enlightened towards the topic. That the character has no real impact on the plot makes it even worse, Horowitz' version of the gaying of Peter Guillam and just as stupid.

I hated the mention of Bond's Bentley having been to a Q-branch cure on M's orders; it's an absurd idea that M would hardly have had. But if the car has to acquire whatever treatment they can give it on tax payers' expense they could certainly do better than arm it with the same PPK Bond is wearing under his armpit anyway. Numerous other discrepancies, I'm too lazy to list them all.

Pussy Galore is simply there as a gimmick, sadly a stupid one. There is no real reason she is in this other than to tie it to Goldfinger. And of course to give Bond one more occasion to display how cool he is with homosexuals, fine. I never thought he was a homophobe, so the effect is a bit lost on me.

That the book contains original Fleming material - what we may assume is Chapter Seven: Murder on Wheels - illustrates another misunderstanding. There are any number of reasons why some works of an author remain unpublished, wrong time, wrong feel, wrong kind of voice or whatever. But by far the most common one is that it's simply not terribly good. That's why this stuff disappears in a drawer and in most cases that's for the better. The idea that SMERSH is having a go at Grand Prix drivers to push their own Russian racing car design is right up there with Marvel and DC. It may have worked with a TV episode, simply because in the thirty or forty minutes it would not have occurred to the audience that back then each year two of twentyfive drivers die anyway, so SMERSH would only have to wait till their worst competitors take themselves out of the equation. Provided their 'racing car' was any good to begin with. That M should send 007 to protect drivers who risk their lives each race out of their own free will stretches credulity in the tale. A better reason could and should have been found for Bond meeting SMERSH at the Nürburgring.

Also I'm having problems accepting Horowitz' attempt at trying to emulate the proper Bond elitism, mainly because Horowitz seems to lack it himself - and I don't mean this as a criticism of the author, to the contrary. But when it simply comes down to slagging every foreign design used by the enemy as 'ugly' or 'unsophisticated' this is childishly cheap and lacks, you guessed it, sophistication. It's one thing to bash German wine of the fifties as 'too sweet' - only if you do your research you will find German wines of the era, except the Spätlesen, used to be on the dry side. You can bash the Russian Makarov as 'ugly' - only it's a similar design to the Walther and I'm pretty sure Horowitz wouldn't be able to tell one from the other. Bond may not feel fine in Germany, that would be understandable, although Fleming never told us of the fact. But it must be a serious handicap given the fact Europe and Germany in particular must be one of Bond's main fields of interest in the Cold War.

The list goes on, numerous times I hear the Anthony Horowitz of 2015 muse about what he thinks Bond should have thought in 1956 (or was that '57? I forget...). And most of the time it just feels off. There is Jeopardy talking about her career in the US Secret Service and this could have been taken from any modern 2015 TV show. I hear Horowitz' wife made him change a lot about the women because she simply thought he displayed too much, I don't know, misogyny. Take note: Fleming displayed remarkable little misogyny for somebody accused of it so often. So when your wife thinks you used too much of it you did something wrong, badly wrong.

As I said, I could go on. But this is really turning into a hatchet job and I shall not waste my or your time on such. Read something worthwhile in the meantime, I shall do the same. Am happy for all the readers who thoroughly enjoyed TRIGGER MORTIS. Best of luck to whoever tries his or her hand next.

 

 

Doesn't Bond have a DB3 in Goldfinger? If I recall correctly it's the car Bond drives in the novel. Why go back to the Bentley? 

Glad I chose not to read this yet. The more I hear of it the more pretentious Horowitz is turning out to be, even worse that Boyd if that's possible.



#54 Dustin

Dustin

    Commander

  • Commanding Officers
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5558 posts

Posted 08 January 2016 - 03:20 PM

A DB III in GOLDFINGER but that was from the car pool. We may assume Bond still drove the Bentley privately.

Don't get this wrong, evidently it is possible to enjoy the book; numerous people apparently did. I'm just not one of them and likely won't bother with another effort by Horowitz - should there ever be one.

#55 DaveBond21

DaveBond21

    Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 17940 posts
  • Location:Sydney, Australia (but from the UK)

Posted 29 January 2016 - 12:36 AM

I finally got round to reading this. It was OK, I give it 7/10.

 

Horowitz isn't as descriptive as Faulks was with Devil May Care, but he knows his Fleming and he knows Bond. I enjoyed the cold and brutal villain, Jason Sin - especially as he didn't really care if his mission failed as long as some people died!

 

I also enjoyed the Grand Prix and the burial scenes. A good read, not spectacular.



#56 Double Naught spy

Double Naught spy

    Sub-Lieutenant

  • Crew
  • Pip
  • 169 posts

Posted 24 April 2016 - 06:38 PM

In honor of the five (!) freakin' times Horowitz included the overused phrase "At the end of the day" in Trigger Mortis, here are my top five complaints:

 

At the end of the day, the use of Pussy Galore was completely pointless and smacks of a marketing ploy.

 

At the end of the day, having a pair of Goldfinger's men in the novel was a head-scratching WTF? moment.

 

At the end of the day, having an openly gay MI5 station agent in 1957 strikes me as revisionist history, merely to create pre-release hype in the media.

 

At the end of the day, Pussy's (ham-fisted) exit from the novel completely unravels Fleming's (whether one agrees with it or not) story arc for her.

 

At the end of the day, SMERSH's reputation takes a huge hit.   Being aware that 'James Bond' is racing, but not putting two-and-two together about his sudden appearance on the eve of their scheme; the SMERSH colonel's public meeting with Sin; the use of counterfeit money to pay off the German scientist, when they've already been alerted by Sin that the U.S. Secret Service is on the look-out for said bogus currency - Shame on Horowitz for diminishing SMERSH to 'the gang that couldn't shoot straight' territory!

 

All I can say is that I'm glad I borrowed this from the library and didn't waste my money on it.    Ever since Devil May Care (with the exception of Higson's series), I've suspected that IFP is either a rudderless ship, or they are hell-bent on cynically exploiting Fleming's legacy to sucker fans out of money with sub-par novels from a series of one-off, hack writers.   The proof of this is the numerous usage of "At the end of the day."  Having such a hackneyed phrase slip through the editing process can only occur either through sheer incompetence or a complete disinterest in publishing a quality product.  Whichever the case, Trigger Mortis is just one more sad example of IFP pissing all over Fleming's grave.


Edited by Double Naught spy, 24 April 2016 - 06:39 PM.


#57 chrisno1

chrisno1

    Lieutenant

  • Crew
  • PipPip
  • 892 posts

Posted 10 April 2017 - 11:38 AM

Some nice reviews here.

Dustin and Double Naught Spy, you particularly, have written good takes, which both chime well with me, although I think I liked it a little more.

The problem I find with these continuation novels is, rather like the movies, I like the ones I read first.

So I love Wood's film adaptations (I was only age 9 and 10 at the time, but hey...) and I think Gardner's first three are excellent. I have a fondness for Colonel Sun and recognise the literary aspects of this novel; I also read this first when i was about 12 years old.

Other than Carte Blanche, I don't really rate any other continuations bar a few respectful nods here and there. Similarly with the possible exception of Casino Royale, I'm not over fond of any recent movies (post 1989). Even though I recognise there are a number of turkeys in the original 16 and appreciate the production qualities of the recent output, I'd rather watch one of the earlier Bond's than Brosnan's or Craig's long winded efforts.

I published a review on AJB last year; maybe I'll copy-and-paste it here.



#58 chrisno1

chrisno1

    Lieutenant

  • Crew
  • PipPip
  • 892 posts

Posted 20 April 2017 - 02:41 PM

Review previously available on AJB. Nice poll BTW

 

Last year the well-known thriller writer Anthony Horowitz penned Trigger Mortis, the latest in a loose series of revisionist Bond novels by contemporary authors attempting to revisit and reimagine Ian Fleming’s 1950s hero for a modern audience. The first three entries have had rather mixed results; each has some gem of interest, but none has been paved with gold. Horowitz mines a similar seam.

 

Trigger Mortis takes place immediately after Fleming’s own Goldfinger and utilizes the bones of a short story the Master abandoned called ‘Murder on Wheels’, an episode to be included in a prospective James Bond T.V. series. Horowitz has genuine passion for Fleming and his enthusiasm about the inclusion of this story is well intended. My concern is that he dotes on it too much and that in doing so he has now actually written two adventures poorly bound together.

 

There was a reason ‘Murder on Wheels’ was a short story: it hasn’t got the meat on the bones to sustain a novel’s full structure. Horowitz invitingly expands the motor racing scenario, but in doing so he relegates the original story to almost a footnote, which begs the question why he bothered to include it in the first place. More on that later. It is heartening to note the fine stuff on display here, including some well annotated racing scenes, but the author commits another tactical error by failing to place the villain centre stage during these early confrontations [unlike say in the opening chapters on Moonraker, Goldfinger or even Gardner’s License Renewed]. This allows the exercise to lose much of its significance later in the novel as the actions seem only barely related. In fact, the further I read, the less I cared about the events at the Nurburgring and the Soviet spy Ivan Dimitrov. So unsure is the author he has tagged on a sinister prologue describing the death of a prominent U.S. rocket scientist which, unlike the motor racing, is much more relevant to the overall narrative.

 

Horowitz also brings back one of Fleming’s own heroines, Pussy Galore, and has Bond engaged in a frigid relationship, warmed only by sex, both partners equally desperate to end it. There was much press fanfare about this, but when The Mail on Sunday makes a statement like: ‘the return of the best Bond girl of them all, I’d have to question the reasoning. Pussy hardly features in Goldfinger and for the most part she is a willing accessory to a madman’s plan. Her sudden change of heart is as unlikely as her seduction by James Bond. Her character, while consummately well-drawn, wasn’t believable. Perhaps though, her sudden change of heart here is a reasonable reflection of her indifference to commitment. 

 

In fairness Horowitz makes a decent stab at dissecting Bond’s home and love life. Added to this awkward domesticity is some stage-managed nastiness involving American hoodlums, nudity and gold paint at a Stone Age site, the Devil’s Own. All this early action though seems entirely irrelevant, merely another nod towards Fleming-ism, so much so we even have another softly spoken lesbian love affair for Pussy, this time provided by Bond’s racing instructor, the fetching Logan Fairfax. This grated with me too as while Horowitz has made much effort to affect Fleming’s world, one feels Bond’s creator would never have put the female of the species behind the wheel of a Cooper-Climax T43. It’s simply all too convenient in Horowitz’s world.

 

Once the motor race kicks off, the novel picks up considerably. A few exciting circuits of the Nurburgring later and Bond is attending a swish party at a grand castle and doing some surreptitious spying as he sips champagne. It’s all very grand, outrageous and good fun; very Fleming. I enjoyed the scenes at Schloss Bronsart. The introduction of both Sin Jai-Seong (the Korean bad guy, handily re-termed Jason Sin) and Jeopardy Lane (an American spy of dubious talents and many good looks) are handled well and there is an element of surprise and daring here. But too quickly Horowitz begins to make the same mistakes as all the other recent continuation authors. His villain becomes a pastiche of a Fleming creation – in this case Hugo Drax – and the heroine has to be a secret agent. This is a never spoken nod to the politically correct and wholly emancipated 21st century; Fleming’s women were rarely spies and when so rarely displayed such solid capabilities.

 

In fact, Jeopardy Lane is an excellent character. She is closer to Gala Brand, certainly in the sex-less friendship she strikes with OO7, but also in that she is intelligent, opinionated and prone to the occasional lapse which will put her and Bond in peril. Indeed, as I mention above, she felt a little too modern and that doesn’t sit well in a novel set in the late 1950s.

 

Jason Sin meanwhile is your typical rapscallion psychopath, a one dimensional deluded monster. I had little sympathy for him – I’m not sure the reader is supposed to – and his long winded tete-a-tete with bond only exposes the convoluted nature of his plan to destroy the Empire State Building. To do this, Sin plans to explode a device underneath the tower which will simulate the impact of falling debris from a Vanguard nuclear missile, one that will be destroyed in mid-air seconds before. I didn’t buy it for a minute. If Sin can successfully explode the missile, why doesn’t he simply explode it over New York in the first place? The potential ramifications would be the same, his aim of Soviet domination achieved; ah, but then there would be no long-winded train-borne climax for Horowitz to construct.

 

Before that extended and entirely forgettable enterprise we have the best section of the novel, where Bond plays Sin’s game of death and chooses his own execution from a stack of playing cards. This tense sequence is slightly spoilt by us already having seen it [a cinematic device Fleming would never have employed] and by Sin’s petulant displays; far better surely to have the adorable Jeopardy Lane seal Bond’s death warrant? After all she wouldn’t know the cards can be marked, would she? Mind, the nineteenth chapter, cryptically entitled ‘Six Feet Under’, is a proper tour-de-force of drama and suspense as our hero is buried alive in a bald coffin: “So dark in this tiny space. Blind. No room to move. The weight of the earth pressing down. No air.” There is a real sense of fear and futility. It’s a page turning scene indeed and reminiscent of the best of Ian Fleming.

 

The remainder of the piece, an extended chase through New York, is all a bit hit and miss. Much of it I could do without. Ends are neatly tied, nothing surprises. That sounds like a criticism, but I wouldn’t expect anything else in a Bond novel. Trigger Mortis is a comparative triumph compared to its immediate predecessors. It’s easy to read and I didn’t consider it poorly written. It isn’t as slack as Faulk’s Devil May Care, as intricate as Carte Blanche or as dull as Solo; in fact it’s very pacey and has a strong central character in an emotionally uncertain Bond, who only finds satisfaction in the danger of his work, but who fears his own death and the people who can administer it.

 

I feel I should say ‘Bravo!’ to Mr Horowitz. Trigger Mortis misses the florid speak of Fleming, but it doesn’t lack urgency and proceeds with some guile. It’s certainly on a par with the very best of Gardner as well as Kingsley Amis’s lone follow up Colonel Sun – a novel which feels better and better as more and more continuation stories appear. A touch less Fleming-fawning would aid this book’s impact, but I can’t argue that I didn’t enjoy it, for in the main I did. Bravo then, just.

 

 



#59 Dustin

Dustin

    Commander

  • Commanding Officers
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5558 posts

Posted 20 April 2017 - 03:11 PM

Very solid review. Thank you, chrisno1!




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users