Ian Fleming Publications have published details of the cover of Solo, the forthcoming James Bond adventure by William Boyd. The design is stylish and dramatic, hinting at danger, intrigue and exotic locations. On the front of the dustjacket is the title Solo; the final O appears to be open, allowing us to peek through to the dramatic red colour of the boards beneath. The back of the dustjacket is emblazoned with the 007 motif, and this time the hardcover is seen through one of the zeros. The hardcover itself is decorated with representations of bullet holes and a gecko, which alludes to the novel’s African location.
Suzanne Dean, the designer, said that she didn’t “just want to depict a cinematic image”, and that she was influenced by designers such as Saul Bass (read her full statement here), but inevitably the bullet holes on the hardcover and the arrangement of the title and Bond’s code number on the dustjacket recall the gunbarrel sequence that opens (or closes) the James Bond films. The use of shadow and open elements on the dustjacket also give, to my mind, the design a trompe l’oeil appearance, perhaps in keeping with the famous Richard Chopping covers of Fleming’s novels.
I wonder, also, whether the gecko offers clues to the African location. I’m certainly no expert on geckos, but the shape of the one depicted is not too dissimilar from that of the West African forest gecko. In previous posts, I’ve speculated on the basis of Boyd’s previous work and experiences, the events of 1969, and the clues that he’s provided that Boyd would send Bond to West Africa, possibly Nigeria. Of course, the image might simply represent a generic gecko not specific to any location, but such animals do vary in shape and size, and the gecko depicted does not appear to be inconsistent with the West African species.