I read Anthony Dershowitz’ Trigger Mortis, a sequel to Goldfinger where James Bond unequivocally does not get Pussy Galore, at the start of 2017. In the mood for a bit more retro-Bond action, I downloaded Forever And A Day, a prequel to Casino Royale.
It’s a fairly serviceable addition to the corpus of James Bond stories, although it feels like it’s been assembled by rearranging pieces from some of the 25 films. Bond has his heart broken by a French woman who drowns at the end of the film (see: Vesper Lynd in the Casino Royale reboot movie). There’s a scheme to flood the US with heron, and a grotesquely fat crime boss (see: Live And Let Die). There’s a millionaire criminal mastermind with an enormous boat (see: Thunderball, Tomorrow Never Dies, that weird one where the villain wants to kill everyone to save the environment, etc etc)
Thus, although the book gets in and does what it needs to (including Bond dismissing opera as “absurdly large women, histrionics, noise” which is as efficient a rendering of his philistinism as any other you’ll read) it doesn’t feel like much more than a machine to do so. The occasional deus ex machinas that rescue Bond from being burned with acid or shot dead begin to get a bit ridiculous – I began to think this was a Bond novel, as written by a twelve year old boy who’s high on supermarket cola and a big bag of Haribo, coming down from watching a Roger Moore double bill.
Because of this, the joins are too visible, and that distracts from the experience. It’s OK, I guess, but as a placeholder, not as a piece of literature in its own right.