Robert Markham ´ 3 ead & downloadOriginally published on my blog here in July 1998I don t think that the existence of this book is terribly well known It s a James Bond book written in the late sixties and is not by either Ian Fleming or John Gardner who was licensed to continue the series by the Fleming estate In fact Robert Markham is a pseudonym used by Kingsley Amis of all people a big fan of Ian FlemingBond goes to meet M at his home in Surrey and is surprised there by a gang of thugs who have kidnapped M and want to take James as well Escaping from them with a superhuman effort he eturns later to find clues pointing to Athens Knowing these to have been planted by his attackers Bond decides he has to put his head into the trap in order to be able to save M from themThe kidnapping is part of a complex Chinese plot to sabotage a conference of Middle Eastern countries taking place on a emote Greek island the conference is un by Russians without the knowledge of the Greek government The idea is to attack the conference with British made weapons and then leave the bodies of Bond and M to make it look like a British attack causing a
Loss Of Esteem Forof esteem for interests and embarrassment for the RussiansThe book is exciting and Amis as Markham has ather of a sense of humour than Fleming I would say its standard is at least on a par with the majority of Fleming s own novels and better than the worst of them such as The Spy Who Loved Me The tension drops a little bit in the middle which describes what is basically a short cruise in the Aegean perhaps exotic to eaders in 1968In the end I felt the book eminded me ather strongly of Peter O Donnell s Modesty Blaise series than the Fleming Bond books There is a slight tendency towards pornography of violence in that series and here there is an extremely unpleasant torture seuence conducted by the half mad Chinese Colonel Sun on Bond to test the theory of the Maruis de Sade that torturing another human being would make him feel like a god He later admits that it made him feel evil and ashamed which is perhaps better than expected from this genre of fiction How can we possibly go wrong when Kingsley Amis takes his best crack at writing his own 007 story The Kinger s endition fits ably into the Fleming canon To answer your other uestion no I have no intention of moving along to ead any of the other continuation novels none of which were written by Amis and none of which garnered his approval There was a long silence between the publication of Colonel Sun in 1968 and License Renewed by John Gardner in 1981 If Amis ejection of Gardner s books is not enough to persuade you to avoid them consider Philip Larkin s concurrence Their unanimous condemnation of Gardner s Bond books as sodding tame ought to keep you from them foreverThere is a lot of fun here for fans of both Bond and of Amis and for you weirdos who enjoy both this will be indispensable eading I doubt anyone could have been as well prepared as KA for the task of taking up the mantle so ecently laid down by the dead Fleming in the late 60 s Since Amis was fresh off several successes with his own serious novels as well as two books covering the Bond phenomenon the project was a natural Even as Fleming was expiring the firm he had established for the promotion and protection of all things Bond was laying plans for continuation novels to be published under the collective pseudonym Robert Markham to be written under by otating authors Ultimately and for easons which emain unclear neither Amis nor anyone else was ever enlisted to be Markham again Glidrose still handles all of the ights and distribution for the James Bond brand A final weird note along these lines in 2008 to celebrate Fleming s centenary a new continuation novel was published by Sebastian Faulks writing as Ian Fleming whatever that means Throughout the promotional coverage of the novel titled Devil May Care it was implied that no new Bond book had appeared since. The life of secret agent James Bond has begun to fall into a pattern that threatens complacency until the sunny afternoon when M is kidnapped The action icochets acros. ,
Hen it is very subtle indeed for its time we e looking at fifty odd years before The OfficeHave a look at this an action sceneBond dropped to his knees shoved out of the way the legs of the man he had stabbed got his finger through the brass ing of the trapdoor and heaved it aside The oar of well tuned machinery and an engine oom smell came up at him He moved to the deck immediately outside the doorway and there swiftly and methodically drew from the pouches at his waist the four Mills grenades Each was surrounded by a half inch thick protective coating of heavy duty grease from the Altair s stores Again he made no delay but with uick deft movements grasped one grenade after another in his ight hand drew out
The Safety Pin With His Left Indexsafety pin with his left index and tossed all four down the hatchway before the seven second fuse of the first had had time to elease the firing pin Then it came a monstrous pounding shivering bang underfoot that made the deck boards leap as if struck with a massive hammer the buzz of flying metal a wash of flame above the hatchwaySee It s just not very goodThe breeze was whipping the blaze for ard and Bond caught the glow of flames sweeping the deckhouse He could hear the oar of fuel fired combustion Something aft went up with a kind of puffing bellow and bunch of flame intensely orange in colour jerked and eddied outwards Not for the first time in his career Bond felt a surge of sickening emorse at the gross outrageous destruction he had caused the stabbing of the man in the pilot s seat and the unknown but probably dreadful fate of the other He tried to push the thought out of his mind It was necessary he told himself It was duty A kind of puffing bellow Yew Throughout the book the writing s at best pedestrian Bond walks uickly and stomachs lurch suddenly bellies betray no sign of
fat and calculations are made in split secondsReluctantly I came to the conclusion that no we e notand calculations are made in split secondsReluctantly I came to the conclusion that no we e not at satire here We e looking at someone trying to give Bond eaders what they want And in attempting that MarkhamAmis amplifies the worst aspects of Bond and neglects the good aspects of him That finding the good aspects of Bond is ather like searching haystacks perhaps doesn t helpTo sum up the plot nothing much eally happens because there s no eason eally for anything to happen M is kidnapped and Bond goes on holiday in Greece There s a bad Chinese guy and a good Greek guy There are various other guys who sort of pop in and out We muck around in boats eat Greek food and lament the Greeks are uite as lazy and crap as they are apart from busty Greek bird Ariadne who Bond turns from Communism to enthusiastic screwing something they indulge in at every opportunity There are lashings of ouzo The bad Chinese guy wants to torture Bond to satisfy the code of the Chinese or something There are girls They are Albanian and so like to screw menThere s a
MAN WHO S A FAIRY OH YES I KNOWwho s a fairy Oh yes I know is of its time but stillAriadne nodded vigorously Right I was exactly the person he couldn t believe I m Greek so I m backward and stupid and a peasant Then I m a woman Oh he s Litsas gestured one of the boys is he Yes you should have seen the look he gave Yanni A little later the character s defined deftly a fat little fairyThe acism and sexism are both very much in evidence overdone to a tee The Chinese are very chinky winky the girls are all winky winky and the fat fairies are very Tinkywinky It s all so obvious and well wearyingI started taking notes after a while ealising that the only thing keeping me going was that the whole thing was so monumentally bad that it was worth the effort just for the celebration of its total crapness I finally with an enormous sigh of elief got to the end The baddy Chinaman goes to his death shouting Damn you Bond I felt his pain truly I did I also own this in another version that I ead many years ago published as Colonel Sun James Bond Extended Series 15 by Robert Markham. Cing conspiracy Stripped of all professional aids Bond faces unarmed the monstrous devices of Colonel Sun in a test that brings him to the verge of his physical enduran. .