The 100th anniversary of the birth of Ian Fleming is as good a reason as any for commissioning a 'continuation novel' for his most famous creation - James Bond. And who better to write it than one of the most popular British authors of the contemporary crop, Sebastian Faulks? As an avid Faulks fan, it was an intriguing thought, but one not without risk for this most eponymous of spy franchises and perhaps also for the author. Though I needn't have worried. As early as the opening chapter, the reassuring velvety panache of Faulks was grafted onto the gritty style of Fleming, in a typically grisly, action-packed episode.
A global threat posited by a maniacal power broker bent on the destruction of west, in particular this time the UK, the 'baddie' is strikingly familiar, right down to a physical deformity and a penchant for cruelty, which in due course must surely get its comeuppance.
Also present, the romantic entanglement with a beautiful, tragic woman, which is as much a necessity for Bond, as his trusty Walther PPK.
A light read, the book moves along at a break-neck pace and is unadulterated escapism, but worthy of one of the nation's favourite literary heroes and we continue to be lucky to have him.