1. Looking Back: 'Doubleshot'

    By Devin Zydel on 2007-07-29

    The CBn ‘Looking Back…’ series now moves onto Raymond Benson’s fourth original James Bond novel, Doubleshot. First released in April of 2000, this followed Benson’s November 1999 short story, Live At Five. CBn takes an indepth look back at Doubleshot. Included are publication details, trivia notes about the book and CBn Forum fan reactions…

    The intricately organised criminal conspiracy called the Union has vowed its revenge on the man who thwarted its last coup. Now, the Union’s mysterious leader sets out to destroy James Bond’s reputation and sanity by luring the agent into a dangerous alliance of deceit and treason with a Spanish militant intent on reclaiming Gibraltar.

    Officially on medical leave as a result of a head injury sustained on his last adventure, 007 ignores M’s orders and pursues clues that he believes might lead him to the Union’s inner circle. His search takes him from the seedy underbelly of London’s Soho to the souks of Tangier; from a terrorist training camp in Morocco to a bullring in Spain; and from the clutches of a murderous Spanish beauty to a volatile summit conference on the Rock of Gibraltar.

    Each step brings 007 closer to the truth about the Union’s elaborate, audacious plot to destroy both SIS and its best agent: James Bond.

    UK First Edition Hodder & Stoughton Hardback


    Doubleshot is the second book of the Union trilogy–the other two being High Time To Kill and Never Dream Of Dying.

    Raymond Benson’s working title for the book was ‘Doppelganger’ and an unused title was ‘Reflections in a Broken Glass.’ The title Doubleshot was suggested by Benson’s American editor.

    A Large Print hardback edition of Doubleshot was only published in the US.

    While being promoted to the Captain status in later John Gardner James Bond novels, here 007 is a Commander once again.

    Raymond Benson's 'Doubleshot'

    Raymond Benson’s Doubleshot

    Benson’s faithful manipulation of Fleming’s boilerplate formula will have Bond fans cheering as 007 and the sexy twins race to save the day…

    Publisher’s Weekly

    The difficult part for a writer of 007 tales is coming up with new villains, new plots, and new settings. What makes Benson a good writer is that he is willing to stretch the character to make things interesting. In his hands, Bond is more than a robot and deeper than the cardboard cutout that populates the films.

    Marin Independent Journal

    Release Timeline

    • 2000: 1st British Hodder & Stoughton Hardback Edition
    • 2000: 1st American Putnam Hardback Edition
    • 2000: 1st British Coronet Paperback Edition
    • 2000: 1st American Thorndike Large Print Hardback Edition
    • 2001: 1st American Jove Paperback Edition

    Forum Reviews

    Doubleshot is a pretty good romp, and is certainly Benson’s most ambitious story; I liked the mystery/film noir aspect which worked pretty well with the Bond formula. Obvious nods to Fleming – From Russia With Love, You Only Live Twice a chapter title from Gardner – ‘Death in the afternoon’, the opening chapter of Brokenclaw, which is the book I just happened to read prior to this one!

    The idea of a ‘Good Bond’ and a ‘Bad Bond’ running around is kind of cheesy and comic-bookish but Benson managed to pull it off pretty well. I definitely got a Brosnan movie vibe from the whole thing.

    CBn Forum member dinovelvet

    At first I wasn’t too wild about Doubleshot and Bond being in less than tip-top shape. But as I went along, I enjoyed it more. And, like I did John Gardner’s Scorpius, I found I liked the book better and better the more I thought about it after I had finished it. Doubleshot has a lot of good stuff to it and is a solid 007 adventure.

    CBn Forum member Double-Oh Agent

    I recently re-read Doubleshot and really loved it. More so than when it first came out. It’s a pure literary Bond adventure. People sometimes knock Benson and the other continuation novelists for making their books too “film-like.” First, this is unfair because, back then, IFP told them to include film-like references and action (Q and cars). But Doubleshot has nothing like this. It’s is a pure Bond NOVEL and Benson nails it.

    CBn Forum member zencat

    Out of the two Bensons I read (Doubleshot and Never Dream Of Dying) I liked Doubleshot better, but that isn’t saying much. Bond’s Evil Twin was an amusing enough idea for a plot, but I didn’t feel enough was done with him. Still, I’ve read worse books (as I finished Win, Lose, Or Die a week or so prior to tackling Doubleshot).

    CBn Forum member Flash1087

    I finished Doubleshot tonight and I thought it was a fun, engaging, unique thriller. I actually read it in one day, which I have never done before!

    CBn Forum member manfromjapan

    I would love to see Doubleshot made into a film (moreso than say, Zero Minus Ten or High Time To Kill) because even though it’s a far departure from the standard Bond formula, there are enough twists and turns (framing Bond using a body-double is ingenius in my opinion) to more than compensate for the lack of standard 007 cinematic scenes. Even though Doubleshot isn’t the best Benson book, it is certainly the most intriguing and original, and if a film version was made, it would top Live And Let Die and Licence To Kill as the most original Bond film.

    CBn Forum member bryonalston

    I think Doubleshot is Bond at his most human in the Benson books. Once again, it is finely plotted and develops a sense of place. I think the villain is very well drawn and the novel is resonant with Fleming-esque touches.

    I particularly like the playing with structure. Bond novels can do this and should do it more often.

    For everyone who is a Fleming fan, please try to read all the continuation novels. Make up your own mind. Just imagine if someone told you to only watch the Connery films. Think what you’d miss.

    CBn Forum member ACE

    Doubleshot left an impact on me from the moment I read it. It’s Benson’s The Spy Who Loved Me in that it’s a departure from what we’re used to in regards to a James Bond novel. At least as far as Benson was concerned.

    The most appealing thing about the book for me was that James Bond wasn’t mentally fit in this mission. After all he had been through in High Time To Kill he’s an injured man that suffers through this assignment.

    Overall, I think this is a very fine read. I sort of get the impression that of all the Bond novels he wrote, this is Benson’s secret favorite — or at least one he is very, very proud of. And rightly so.

    CBn Forum member mccartney007

    I’m not a big fan of Doubleshot. Personally there is something about the mental issues Bond is afflicted with following High Time To Kill. Its just not a very interesting plot device, nor is having the exact double causing trouble and making it look like 007 is to blame. Don’t get me wrong, there are some interesting parts and imaginative villains, and I think that Benson did a great job showcasing Spain in the book. Overall, this is my least favorite Benson book.

    CBn Forum member HawkEye007

    A nice book showing Bonds’ more human face, I do like it together with The Facts Of Death and The Man With The Red Tattoo.

    CBn Forum member chimera01