Trigger Mortis is a James Bond novel written by Anthony Horowitz, creator of Midsummer Murders and Foyle’s War for UK television and also more recently author of The House of Silk and Moriarty. It was commissioned by the estate of Ian Fleming, and contains a small amount of previously unpublished material written by Fleming for an episode of an unfilmed US television show.
The book is set in 1957 hot on the heels of the events of arguably the most iconic of all Bond tales Goldfinger and is written in Fleming’s style which at times verges on sexism, racism and snobbishness. To a devout fan of the original books it was a joy to read. The rest of this post does contain some spoilers – I did warn you…
Pussy Galore, the lesbian criminal turned in more ways than one by Bond in Goldfinger, features at the start of the book but in true Fleming style is written out as a complication on Bond’s way to finding his next conquest in the shapely form of Jeopardy Lane. Lane is no pushover and holds her own throughout the story, saving Bond’s life at least once and helping defeat the megalomaniacal Korean businessman Jason Sin, before temporarily falling into our hero’s arms at the end of the book.
The backdrop for the start of the tale is the dangerous world of Formula 1. Bond’s mission is to protect a British racing driver (originally Stirling Moss in the TV script) at the Nürburgring racetrack who has been targeted for a fatal accident in an outlandish SMERSH plot. In a rather good piece of cinematic writing Bond hospitalizes the would-be assassin then goes to an after race party at Sin’s castle, sees some intriguing photos of a rocket under construction in Sin’s office, bumps into Lane who triggers an alarm and leads to them escaping together.
Much like Fleming’s novel Moonraker, the bulk of the story is about the development of a rocket. In this case it is a test launch of a space rocket. Sin plans to sabotage the launch, devastate New York and stop the USA’s efforts in the space race dead in its tracks. Of course he is foiled. Bond uncovers the plot with Jeopardy’s help and while poking around ends up captured by Sin, subjected to a lengthy piece of exposition (in true Fleming style), being buried alive and then having to jump onto the back of a speeding subway train laden with C4 explosive.
It’s great stuff and never does it feel that Horowitz is lampooning Fleming or Bond. It is certainly as good as Jeffrey Deaver’s Carte Blanche, and better than Sebastian Faulk’s Devil May Care and William Boyd’s Solo. It’s a must for any Bond aficionado.