The CBn ‘Looking Back…’ series now moves onto Raymond Benson’s third original James Bond novel, High Time To Kill. First released in May of 1999, this followed Benson’s January 1999 short story, Midsummer Night’s Doom. CBn takes an indepth look back at High Time To Kill. Included are publication details, trivia notes about the book and CBn Forum fan reactions…
Raymond Benson’s new James Bond story is his most thrilling adventure yet, as he pursues a ruthless criminal conspiracy to a breathtaking showdown eight thousand metres above the world on a peak in the Himalayas.
The Union is a criminal organisation with tentacles throughout the world–specializing in military espionage, theft, intimidation and murder. After one of its agents assassinates Bond’s friend and host at a glittering dinner in the Bahamas, the Union becomes 007’s priority target.
When information vital to Britain’s national security is stolen, both M and Bond suspect that the Union is behind it. The trail leads Bond from one of England’s most exclusive golf clubs to the cosmopolitan city of Brussels and finally to an expedition up the icy heights of the legendary mountain Kangchenjunga, the third tallest peak in the world. Led by the abrasive mountaineer Group Captain Roland Marquis, aided by the expedition’s sexy and beautiful doctor Hope Kendall and opposed by an unknown traitor working out of SIS itself, Bond must pit his strength and guile against two deadly adversaries–the forces of nature at high altitude and the most resourceful criminal minds he has ever encountered.
UK First Edition Hodder & Stoughton Hardback
1999 was a busy year for Raymond Benson: his second James Bond short story, Midsummer Night’s Doom, was released in January, his third James Bond continuation novel, High Time To Kill, was released, and he wrote his second 007 novelization, The World Is Not Enough followed by his third Bond short story, Live At Five.
High Time To Kill is the first book of the Union trilogy–the other two being Doubleshot and Never Dream Of Dying.
‘A Better Way To Die’ was Raymond Benson’s working title for the novel, but marketing led to a last minute change.
This was the first Raymond Benson novel to be published in a Large Print edition (in both the UK and the US). The UK edition can be found with a dustjacket that features different cover artwork compared to the US edition.
While being promoted to the Captain status in later John Gardner James Bond novels, here 007 is a Commander once again.
Raymond Benson’s High Time To Kill
This is by far Benson’s best Bond novel. Not only does he present a realistic plot, but he gives 007 interesting people to interact with… As in the original books, Benson makes use of the “Fleming Sweep,” which whisks the reader from one short chapter to another… This is a thoroughly modern espionage novel that also gives insights into James Bond’s past… Benson’s writing fits precisely into the Bond tradition of escapist fiction… As Ian Fleming was fond of saying about his own books, High Time To Kill is the perfect book to read on an airplane or waiting for a train. It is light fare that goes down quickly and is not meant for serious thought-just plain summer fun. Nobody does it better.
Oregon Daily Emerald
Raymond Benson is no Ian Fleming, but he captures the spirit and pluck of Fleming’s 007 in this high-flying spy thriller… a perfect read for a free afternoon.
- 1999: 1st British Hodder & Stoughton Hardback Edition
- 1999: 1st American Putnam Hardback Edition
- 1999: 1st British Coronet Paperback Edition
- 2000: 1st American Jove Paperback Edition
- 2000: 1st British Windsor/Chivers Press/Thorndike Large Print Hardback Edition
- 2000: 1st American Windsor/Chivers Press/Thorndike Large Print Hardback Edition
I love High Time To Kill. Not only is it neck and neck with Never Dream of Dying as my favorite Benson book, but it’s one of my favorite Bond books period.
CBn Forum member zencat
I finished High Time To Kill this morning after a marathon read–I couldn’t put the book down! An absolutely great book. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Vividly written in a Flemingesque style. Good characters. Plenty of stuff going on. It started strongly but when the climb started it shifted into an even higher gear! Liked the humour too. Great ending a la Casino Royale. I would agree with zencat–it is not just a great Benson Bond but a great Bond novel period. I mean it is better than the likes of The Spy Who Loved Me or The Man with the Golden Gun novels in my opinion. Benson really knows the character inside out too. What a great film it would make. It is definitely on par with if not better than The Man With The Red Tattoo.
CBn Forum member manfromjapan
As for High Time To Kill, I find it one of the worst of the Bond novels. There are plenty that are much, much better, including a couple by Benson (Zero Minus Ten and The Man with the Red Tattoo, for instance). I wouldn’t advise anyone just starting out on the literary Bond to make a beeline for High Time To Kill, but that’s just me, and to each his own.
CBn Forum member Loomis
Yep, it’s a good one all right. As far as the Benson novels go it’s second behind The Man with the Red Tattoo.
CBn Forum member Genrewriter
Just finished this one, and I only had one problem with it… I’ve got to stop reading the back of the book, before I read the book itself, because this one held no suspense for me. I thought the idea was great; important military secret on a microdot, stolen, crashes on top of a really big mountain, James Bond and some bad guys have to climb the mountain to get it. Problem is, I knew that from reading the back of the book.
SPOILER – HIGHLIGHT TO READ: Bond gets the microdot, the bad guy dies. OK, we all knew that was gonna happen also..
Honestly, it was pretty good, I liked Marquis’ character and most of the villains. The story was well told, though I didn’t think we needed the double-cross by Paul Baack at the end. Again, we’re not talking about a story where the good guy can die at the end, so that kind of thing, with two pages remaining, doesn’t thrill me. But I’m just nitpicking.
CBn Forum member Jriv71
High Time To Kill is my favorite of Raymond Benson’s novels. I couldn’t put it down. Everything clicked in it. He builds the suspense well. It’s a great plot and a great read. Dare I say that High Time To Kill is Benson’s “all time high?”
CBn Forum member Double-Oh Agent
High Time To Kill is my favourite Raymond Benson.
Apart from the simple, effective plot, Raymond’s writing, particularly in the mountain climbing sequences, is his best. As usual with Benson, it is well plotted and worked out. High time to read Benson.
CBn Forum member ACE