The Soviet counter-intelligence agency plans to sabotage a Grand Prix race at the most dangerous track in Europe. But it's James Bond who finds himself in the driving seat and events take an unexpected turn when he observes a suspicious meeting between SMERSH's driver and a sinister Korean millionaire, Jai Seong Sin.
Soon Bond is pitched into an entirely different race with implications that could change the world. Thrown together with American agent, Jeopardy Lane, Bond uncovers a plan that will bring the West to its knees in a heart-stopping climax.
Reviewed on 22nd September 2015
After writing the Alex Rider series of young adult spy stories, clearly modelled on Bond, Anthony Horowitz has finally graduated to the main programme and been invited to write the novel he's been lining himself up for.
Set shortly after Goldfinger, Bond finds himself caught up in both the repercussions of that mission and a new one where he travels to Germany to thwart a Russian plot. A fair chunk of the early part of the story is based on an outline Ian Fleming produced for a potential Bond TV series, and it's fascinating to see how Horowotz has blended in this original material into his narrative and expanded it into a full and rich story.
While much of the novel is written in passable Fleming style, the separation into two halves - one European and one American - goes against the Fleming tradition of alternating book settings, and there is limited overlap between the two parts which feels a little disconnected. The first half seems far more memorable, but that may be because my copy reinforced that with the Fleming script as an appendix.
Despite Horowitz's excellent writing and a solid and entertaining plot, I don't think that this will be remembered as a classic of the continuation novels (actually I'm not sure there is such a thing). It doesn't take any risks with the material, and as such does nothing to make it stand out.
Still, one of the best of the recent bunch of one-off Bond authors and I would have no objection to Horowitz getting the gig for a few episodes - perhaps with the remaining unpublished Fleming texts as inspiration. His grasp of the originals is strong and he's clearly done his research without becoming an obsessive fanboy.
If you enjoy the originals, this is probably the one to read now.