65 years ago Ian Fleming created a literary character that became a motion picture icon. When Fleming died in 1964, it didn’t mean James Bond died. Since Fleming’s passing, there have been several authors who have stepped up to tackle the world of 007. I haven’t read all 25+ non-Fleming novels, but I have read most of them and here are some of my personal favorites. I’m also taking into account which ones I think should have their plots turned into big-screen Bond adventures.
If you’re a sucker for a James Bond story set in the snow like I am, then I highly recommend reading this one. Written by John Gardner in 1983, Icebreaker has Bond teaming up with an alliance of agents from the CIA, the KGB and Mossad. The Scandinavia backdrop sees Bond dealing with frenemies and a Neo-Nazi villain who fancies himself the next Hitler. It also has two Bond girls, one good and one bad, but you might not know which is which. Could this work as a film? Great title, and the current new rise of “nationalism” could strike a cord.
ROLE OF HONOR
What if James Bond became an agent of SPECTRE? In Role of Honor (John Gardner: 1984), Bond inherits some money from a dead relative and it gives MI6 a clever idea. They publicly accuse Bond of financial improprieties and he resigns. Bond, now a disgruntled ex-employee of her Majesty’s Secret Service, offers his services to SPECTRE (now run by Tamil Rahani). This is a great tale of how far will Bond go to keep his cover. Of course, they learn that Bond’s resignation is false and he foils the villainous plot of the rebooted SPECTRE. The title does have a nice Bond-movie ring to it. The idea of a new leader of the infamous crime organization is neat, and the climax takes place in an airship over Switzerland.
NOBODY LIVES FOREVER
This is direct sequel to Role of Honor has Rahani putting a price on 007’s head. Literally! He hires assassins from all over the world to give him James’ head. Nobody Lives Forever, written again by Gardner in 1986, also has Moneypenny getting kidnapped and Bond putting an end to Rahani and whatever is left of SPECTRE once and for all. The title sounds like a Pierce Brosnan – Bond flick. I’d totally be into a movie where Bond is taking on assassins who out to decapitate him.
DEVIL MAY CARE
If this isn’t the best non-Fleming title then I don’t know what is! Devil May Care was written by Sebastian Faulks in 2008, but the novel is set in 1967. Bond investigates Julius Gorner, a businessman who produces heroin. His ultimate goal is to get the Soviets and the Brits into WWIII. The plot sounds like it’s been done before a number of times, but the title is still great; oh and did I mention Gorner suffers from main de singe AKA monkey’s paw! Keep the title, keep the monkey lefthand, update the plot and I’d definitely watch that.
Written by William Boyd in 2013, Solo takes place in 1969 and has Bond caught in the middle of an African civil war. Bond gets double-crossed, and is shot and left for dead by a group of mercenaries. After that it becomes a classic Bond-goes-rogue type of mission that takes him to the States and dealing with the CIA. It’s crackerjack of a story, that could easily be updated. It also has a villain with a terrific name (Kobus Breed), who has a disfigured face and a permanently weeping eye. Sorry, no weeping blood this time.