It took over 50 years, 24 (official) movies, 38 (official) novels, and countless other media tie-ins, but James Bond has finally visited my street.
"Trigger Mortis" was the 4th "new" Bond novel, by the 4th different author, since the book series relaunched about a decade ago. Following one-off entries by varied and prolific talents such as Sebastian Faulks, Jeffery Deaver, and William Boyd, the series is now continued by Anthony Horowitz (last seen writing licensed Sherlock Holmes continuation novels). Horowitz has since released a second books, perhaps making him the newest ongoing continuation Bond writer.
This book finds its origin in a TV script proposal written by Ian Fleming, before the movie series took off and made the idea of a TV show a moot point. It's Bond as an auto racer, or, in this case, going undercover to protect a beloved British racecar driver from a possible foreign plot on a legendarily dangerous German track. But first comes an interesting prologue that is such a dead-on Fleming pastiche that, at first, I thought that the prologue, rather than the racecar scenario, had been Fleming's posthumous contribution to the book. The prologue involves a German scientist of questionable loyalty, a von Braun disciple, working on a US Eastern Seaboard rocket project in the 50s, while trying to satisfy his greedy wife. Don't worry, all this ties into the rest of the book later on.
After the German adventure, the second half of the book moves to the US (as did William Boyd's previous book, Solo), where Bond traces both the auto racing scheme and the rocketry scheme first to the mid-Atlantic states, and then on a wild subway ride all the way from Brooklyn's Coney Island to Manhattan's Herald Square.
Not only was I born in, and not only do I still live in, Brooklyn, but, during the subway chase, Bond literally races on motorcycle, in pursuit of an elevated subway, directly past my building. He ends up catching his train at the 4th Avenue/9th Street Station in a death-defying leap. If you live off the F line in Brooklyn, or if you even consult a period (or modern) subway map, you'd quickly see that this journey of Bond's is both physically and geographically impossible. Still, the idea of Bond zooming on a motorbike down Prospect Avenue, through Windsor Terrace and Park Slope, in pursuit of the F train (the least reliably on-time subway train on the entire planet), is a terrific one, even if Horowitz doesn't quite get his geography right. I don't care how many international terrorists are driving that train. No F train is ever going to get all the way from Stillwell Avenue to 34th Street in a proscribed, can't-be-late-by-a-minute, time frame.
Still, that bit aside, Trigger Mortis is probably the most exciting of the first four "new" Bond books. The setup is very traditional, the villain is interesting (particularly his deck of cards), the Bond girl has some interesting secrets, and Bond gets to make some split-second but weighty life-and-death decisions, which Horowitz does a fine job navigating.
I'm looking forward to reading Horowitz's second Bond novel. Just hope he gets his NYC subway maps correct next time.