According to John Cox’s The Book Bond London bookies are currently busy taking bets on a possible spectacular outcome for William Boyd’s 2013 Bond novel: the death of James Bond. The book – as yet untitled – is one of the most eagerly anticipated publishing events of 2013 and already sure to end up on this year’s best-seller lists. So it seems unlikely Boyd was hired by IFP to dig a grave for 007. This would in fact be a major surprise for fans and casual readers alike.
On the other hand Bond is no stranger to near-death experiences, as you would expect from somebody known to travel in close company with the grim reaper. ‘Someone usually dies’ as Bond might say, and Ian Fleming himself saw to it this unfortunate fellow on two occasions was Bond – almost.
007 ended up lying on the floor on the last page of ‘From Russia With Love’, an unhealthy dose of fugo poison in his blood and no air in his lungs. Fleming of course saved his character from any final consequences off-stage, bringing him back in ‘Doctor No’ refreshed after extended convalescence. As if Fleming had known Bond would need it…
Bond’s second death in ‘You Only Live Twice’, complete with epitaph, was more allegorical. By the end of the book Bond was missing-presumed-killed, which lead M to write him a short but fitting obituary. While his agent was actually still alive, 007 had lost his memory by severe psychological trauma and a series of massive blows to the head. A deep-set amnesia had erased most traces of his former life, seeing Bond spending his days as a simple Japanese fisherman on a remote island – almost a mercy for this troubled man.
But once more Fleming saved Bond off-stage, bringing him back to M’s desk in the ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’, albeit not for the conventional briefing scene. Bond’s mind and actions show the effects of what he has been through. The book starts with – not quite – a bang and ends with a view on the future. Ensuring – prophetically? – there was to be a future for Bond, even without Fleming.
Is it now conceivable William Boyd has been given free rein by IFP to do the unthinkable? Curtains for Bond finally? Or just some ambiguous final chapter leaving the door open for a later entry, perhaps even by Boyd?
Discuss this topic here