The more we read about this summer's so-so blockbusters and outright bombs, the more we think ... wouldn't it be nice to have a James Bond movie right about now? Unfortunately, the 23rd Bond film is currently in unending limbo while MGM weathers business problems, and with current Bond Daniel Craig off to become one of the stars of the potentially massive Girl With The Dragon Tattoo movies, who knows when we'll see one?
The good news is that next summer, we'll at least get another book.
Bond, of course, began in books, not movies. Ian Fleming, creator of the iconic British spy, wrote 12 novels and nine short stories featuring Agent 007. It's from that body of work that we got today's international entertainment Bond juggernaut, with its TV shows, comics, video games and — yes — those currently suspended films, which are the longest-running film franchise in the English-speaking world.
Fleming died in 1964, but that hasn't been much of an impediment to more Bond books. The series of 007 "continuation" novels, overseen by the Ian Fleming estate, has featured writers such as Kingsley Amis, Raymond Benson and John Gardner.
American mystery/thriller author Jeffrey Deaver was recently tapped to pen the next 007 book. You might know Deaver from his popular Lincoln Rhyme series, featuring the quadriplegic forensics expert and his team of specialists. (The 1999 Denzel Washington film The Bone Collector is based on a Rhyme novel.)
As it happens, Deaver is a neighbor in my sleepy college town of Chapel Hill, NC. I spoke with him about the upcoming 007 book at which time he was able to share the following classified data. I suggested we meet on a fog-shrouded bridge in Prague, and exchange suitcases or something, but he declined.
Serious 007 aficionados, beware – several kinda-sorta macro-spoilers follow....
What We Know:
— Deaver was chosen to write the next book after his historical thriller Garden of Beasts won a literary prize in Europe sponsored by, yes, the Ian Fleming estate.
— Deaver is the second American writer to tackle 007 (after Benson).
— The new book will be about as contemporary as possible without being science fiction — it's set in mid-2011, when the book itself hits shelves.
— Bond will be a "29- or 30-year old" field agent for British security, doing pretty much what he does in the original books.
— He will be a veteran of the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
— The usual cast of characters – "Q," "M," Miss Moneypenny – will return, updated for the present day.
— Events in the book will take place over only a few days, in various exotic locations.
— Deaver's plan is to mix up the usual 007 tropes with his own style of mystery-thriller storytelling, which is heavy on intricate plotting, narrative twists and surprise endings.
— The book is untitled as of yet, but Deaver has a 180-page outline already completed.
So the hope of a young war-veteran Bond, frolicking with his usual associates and enjoying his usual globetrotting ways, will have to hold us for a few more seasons.
I could tell you more, but then I'd have to kill you. Before Deaver killed me. And the Fleming estate killed him. These things get complicated.