Thursday, May 04, 2023

Can Bond Save the Day — Again?

Today is the official publication date of On His Majesty’s Secret Service, British author Charlie Higson’s first adult James Bond novel. Released under the new Ian Fleming Publications imprint, Higson’s yarn is actually set on May 4, 2023, just two days prior to the planned coronation of King Charles III—on which his story is based.

Technology entrepreneur-turned-novelist Ajay Chowdhury, author of the Kamil Rahman series (The Detective), has posted a review on the MI6 Web site. It reads, in part:
The plot concerning a very English coup is surprisingly topical involving the rise of populism, data terrorism, media manipulation, financial malfeasance, and political unrest. It starts off being preposterous, but OHisMSS is unsettling because Higson posits a villain’s plan which might be plausible. At 161 pages long, one tears through the book at pace but the narrative is thematically thought-provoking.

It is also bloody exciting. Action set pieces include a brutal roadside fight in Croatia, a tense tracking sequence around the streets of Budapest (one can almost hear John Barry’s cimbaloms), an assault on a castle fortress in the Zemplén mountains—where the villain is symbolically ensconced in Viktor Orban’s Hungary—a rugged chase on nearby mountain roads and a thrilling climax at [Buckingham] Palace! ...

Rather like the movie
Skyfall, On His Majesty’s Secret Service is actually about the state of the nation. Where the United Kingdom is in 2023. Bond ruminates on his own role of honour and of service. Higson contemporises the venerable spy with deft sleight of hand. It is deceptively difficult to capture the high insider’s tone and weary Weltanschauung which is the hallmark of good Bond writing, especially in a novel set in the modern era.

On His Majesty’s Secret Service is classic Bond yet a much richer read than a work commissioned and written so quickly has any right to be. It is almost as if Higson had it inside him for the longest time. One wonders where else he might take Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007 next. If given the chance.
This seems like just the right thing to read in advance of Charles’ crowning on Saturday. Sadly, Higson’s thriller isn’t available in American bookshops. It can be ordered from Amazon U.S., but the delivery date is currently given as between May 22 and June 7.

LISTEN UP:Charlie Higson Talks On His Majesty’s Secret Service,” by John Cox (The Book Bond).

READ MORE:Reviewed by David Vineyard: Charles Higson—On His Majesty’s Secret Service” (Mystery*File).

1 comment:

Art Taylor said...

My copy has been "dispatched" as of today, according to Book Depository (got the order in before they shut down). I'll be watching my mailbox!!!