Recently acquired by Amazon through their purchase of MGM, the James Bond film franchise, soon to finally see the release of its 25th entry after almost two years of delays, has delivered box office returns of more than $7 billion throughout its nearly 60-year history. This puts it behind only the likes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars and Harry Potter in terms of success.
It’s a well-known fact that 007’s on-screen adventures are based on Ian Fleming’s collection of novels and short stories, which are amongst the top-selling book series of all time. Seventeen of the films have taken their titles from these, with almost every plot adapted for the screen in some way.
Lesser known is the fact that a number of other writers have authored official Bond novels since Fleming’s passing in 1963. These have been a mixture of prequels and sequels, written either as period pieces or in a contemporary setting,
Given that many of these have drifted into obscurity and are out of print, it’d be easy to assume they are subpar. Whilst some stories have been critically derided, others have been well-received and are comparable to Fleming’s creations, many of which were somewhat patchy themselves. How do they all stack up? Let’s find out.
9. Jeffery Deaver
Tenure – 2011, Novels –
1, Short Stories – 0
The post-Fleming Bond novels have fluctuated extensively in terms of setting. The series returned to a period backdrop in 2008 after almost three decades of contemporary stories, before the decision was made to switch back to the modern day once again with Jeffrey Deaver’s Carte Blanche in 2011. The second American author to be given the reins to the series, Deaver crafted something of a hybrid environment for 007 to operate in, featuring established Fleming characterisations alongside new interpretations of his own.
Unfortunately, it happened to be an overcomplicated and dull environment. It’s ironic that the story begins with a train crash given that things go quickly off the rails soon after, with the plot unable to decide if it centres on the assassination of a cancer researcher, a conspiracy to engineer a war in favour of an African charity, an investigation into a Cold War KGB operation or a bizarre villain that fetishises death.
Deaver was offered the opportunity to write a second novel, but allegedly turned it down. A highly prolific and successful crime writer, his foray into the world of espionage fiction was a misguided one that sadly sticks out like a sore thumb within the Bond series.