What I’m reading: To Moscow With Love

Anthony Horowitz:

WITH A MIND TO KILL

 

This is Anthony Horowitz’s third bite of the 007 cherry. He’s not good at titles: this one is too close to A View to a Kill which became Roger Moore’s (overdue) swansong in the movie series. The new book is set immediately after The Man With the Golden Gun and sees James Bond in disgrace for the apparent murder of M and sent back to the Moscow clinic where he was brainwashed into perpetrating this outrage.

This mission is more SMERSH than SPECTRE. The pace is measured with only sporadic lurches into violent action. Protracted briefings in London and Moscow recreate Fleming’s ‘exposition’ scenes which were wickedly spoofed in the Austin Powers scripts. No maniacal super-villain, only Cold War bureaucrats wedded to the Soviet ideology. The NATO mindset is credibly recreated: the USSR is ‘this dreadful, merciless country’; KGB warhorse Colonel Boris is ‘the high priest of an evil religion.’ On the plus side, there is Katya, a glamorous member of the brainwashing team who is of course ripe for seduction.

With a Mind to Kill is a belated sequel to From Russia With Love, the high-point of the Fleming canon and one of the greatest spy adventures ever written. Horowitz is probably the best of our hero’s ‘custodians’, serving up three nostalgic and stylish (and slightly dated) excursions into the original world that Bond operated in before all the stunts and CGI that have come to dominate the movies.

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