Tuesday, 13 February 2018

What can we expect in Forever and a Day

The title of Anthony Horowitz’s second James Bond novel, due to be published in May by Jonathan Cape, was announced last week. The book, Forever and a Day, is set before the events of Casino Royale and sees James Bond earn his licence to kill and develop into the man we know from Ian Fleming’s novels. What else can we learn from the tantalising hints offered by the official press release?  

Anyone familiar with the novel of Casino Royale will remember that James Bond earned his double-O status during the Second World War by killing a Norwegian agent in Stockholm who was doubling for the Germans, and a Japanese cipher expert operating out of the RCA Building in the Rockefeller Centre in New York. Presumably the episodes will be referenced in the new novel, but the latter is especially interesting, as the Rockefeller Centre was also the headquarters of the British Security Coordination (BSC) headed by William Stephenson. The BSC represented British intelligence in the US during the war and was concerned with intelligence gathering, counter-espionage and special operations. If Horowitz’s novel describes or alludes to the killing of the cipher expert, will it link Bond more explicitly to the BSC? 

Probably not, judging by the synopsis: 
‘007 floats in the waters of Marseille, killed by an unknown hand. It’s time for a new agent to step up. Time for a new weapon in the war against organised crime. It’s time for James Bond to earn his licence to kill. This is the story of the birth of a legend, in the brutal underworld of the French Riviera.’ 
This appears to be a different narrative to that presented in Casino Royale, and it will be interesting to see how the two origins are reconciled.

In any case, the Marseille setting and mention of the underworld of the French Riviera are intriguing. We know from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service that this is Union Corse territory. Are the members of that criminal organisation involved in the death of 007? Will we be introduced to Bond’s future father-in-law, Marc-Ange Draco? There is no suggestion in OHMSS that Bond knew Draco before the events of that novel, so it seems unlikely that Bond and Draco would meet in Forever and a Day, but Draco could certainly be in the background.

It’s worth bearing in mind, too, that Marseille was home in the early 1950s to Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s operation to excavate two ancient wrecks. Ian Fleming reported on the underwater excavation for the Sunday Times and even attempted to dive to the site. It’s possible that this will inform Horowitz’s novel to some extent (just as it informed Fleming’s Live and Let Die), and indeed the author confirmed in a tweet that the book involves ‘lots of water.’ 

And will Bond eat one of the regional specialities? In OHMSS, Bond asks a Marseille taxi-driver whether the bouillabaisse (ideally made with rascasse or scorpion fish) chez Guido is always as good. Bond is clearly familiar with the dish and the local restaurants, and it might be in Horowitz’s adventure that he is introduced to them. 

One thing we do know is that the novel will, like Anthony Horowitz’s first Bond adventure, Trigger Mortis, contain original material by Ian Fleming. How it will contribute to Forever and a Day has not been revealed, but it makes the novel an even more mouth-watering prospect.

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