Solo (2013) – William Boyd

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Bond is back in this continuation of the original Ian Fleming novels featuring 007.

It’s 1969, and James Bond has just celebrated his 45th birthday when he is given his latest assignment by M. And thus begins an adventure that is far more in line with the literary Bond than his big-screen interpretation, that paired with the setting of the action in the end of the 60s makes for a highly enjoyable read that sees James involved in a mission that he doesn’t have all the pieces for, and will lead him to new dangers, new romance, and new enemies.

He finds himself embroiled in a civil war in Africa, his orders to contact the leader of the rebel faction, and stabilize the situation. The sooner, the better. Outfitted loosely by Q Branch, and posing as a reporter for the French Press, 007 finds himself paired up with the lovely and sensuous Blessing Ogilvy-Grant, the local station head, and who will serve as his translator. Along the way, his cover is close to being blown, and he encounters the sadistic Kobus Breed.

In Breed, he finds a homicidal maniac in a military uniform, that poses a dangerous threat not only to James, but to anyone who knows him.

The further into the mission he gets, the more embroiled he becomes in the war, and realizes that all the sides involved, possibly even his own, have ulterior motives.

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The book is filled with familiar names and characters, foremost amongst them is Felix Leiter, and Rene Mathis. Also of interest is the character of Bond Girl – Bryce Fitzjohn, she’s an actress, and though the company isn’t mentioned specifically, the type of films she shoots are undeniably, Hammer Films.

Boyd has a very nice handle on the literary version of Bond, and the book rockets along, as James travels from the UK to Africa to the United States, as what was initially a sanctioned mission, becomes tainted with vengeance as he goes Solo. This is the James Bond of the original novels, he’s not a superspy, and the book isn’t one protracted action sequence, it’s a spy thriller with a healthy dose of violence and sex thrown in, and reads like, as the phrase goes, a ripping good yarn.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the cinematic version of Bond, but this is old school, back to basics, living by his wits, secret agent for Her Majesty’s government.

I love the fact that it picks up the timeline from Fleming’s original novels and proceeds from there, it gives a nice consistency to the character, and the setting, and the times play in very nicely to the story.

If you’re a Bond fan, this one is a bit of a must. Have a look and let me know what you think!

"Solo" By William Boyd

 

 

 

 

 

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