1. Looking Back: 'The Man With The Red Tattoo'

    By Devin Zydel on 2007-09-15

    The CBn ‘Looking Back…’ series now moves onto Raymond Benson’s sixth original James Bond novel, The Man With The Red Tattoo. First released in May of 2002, this ultimately turned out to be the author’s final 007 adventure (not counting the novelization of Die Another Day which came a few months after). CBn takes an indepth look back at The Man With The Red Tattoo–included are publication details, trivia notes about the book and CBn Forum fan reactions…

    Raymond Benson's 'The Man With The Red Tattoo'

    Raymond Benson’s The Man With The Red Tattoo

    In Raymond Benson’s gripping new James Bond novel, Bond returns to Japan to face the terrifying threat of a deadly biological weapon.

    When a British businessman and his family are killed in Japan by a virulent form of West Nile disease, James Bond suspects a mass assassination. Investigating with the help of beautiful Japanese agent Reiko Tamura and his old friend Tiger Tanaka, Bond searches for the killers and the one surviving daughter, Mayumi.

    Bond’s discoveries lead him to believe that two powerful factions controlled by the mysterious terrorist Goro Yoshida are playing God. Between them they have created the perfect weapon, one small and seemingly insignificant enough to strike anywhere, unnoticed.

    With an emergency G8 summit meeting just days away, Bond has his work cut out for him discovering when–and how–the next attack will occur. It’s a race against time as Bond confronts both man and nature in a desperate bid to stop the release of a deadly virus that could destroy the Western world.

    UK First Edition Hodder & Stoughton Hardback


    A museum honouring author Raymond Benson and dedicated to his novel The Man With The Red Tattoo opened in Japan in mid-2005. Click here for an exclusive CBn report on the museum from Raymond Benson.

    Raymond Benson’s working titles for the novel were Red Widow Dawn and The Man With The Cold Tattoo at a much later date. A particularly bizarre suggested title was Bite!

    Raymond Benson revealed in a CBn interview that The Man With The Red Tattoo was his least favourite of his James Bond novels.

    Two states of the UK 1st edition hardback exist: the first state shows the covers for Raymond Benson’s five previous novels and his two previous novelizations on the inside back flap, while the second state only shows the previous five novels.

    There was no large print edition of The Man With The Red Tattoo in either the UK or 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 'The Man With The Red Tattoo' (Finnish Edition

    The Man With The Red Tattoo Finnish Edition

    Benson, who has written other Bond books, manages to capture the essence of the suave spy. The Man With the Red Tattoo has everything you would expect, such as high-tech gadgets, beautiful women and gripping action. Benson’s writing style is clean and crisp, and he manages to inject just enough detail and context, while keeping the book to a manageable 292 pages. If you have seen all the Bond movies several times and wish there were more of them about, then this book is the next best thing.

    Newbury Weekly News Group

    There are all the usual thrills and spills you would expect from a Bond adventure as our hero travels through Japan’s criminal underworld with the help of a beautiful female spy. Benson recreates the hustle and bustle of Tokyo superbly with just as much detail given to Japanese customs and traditions.

    Doncaster Free Press

    Release Timeline

    • 2002: 1st British Hodder & Stoughton Hardback Edition
    • 2002: 1st American Putnam Hardback Edition
    • 2003: 1st British Coronet Paperback Edition
    • 2003: 1st American Jove Paperback Edition

    Forum Reviews

    ***WARNING***: Some of the following reviews contain spoilers regarding this novel.

    The Man With The Red Tattoo is another favorite Bond novel but feels a little too much like Zero Minus Ten for me. One oddity about the series is the fact that it loses some of the momentum with the Union books. One might think it might have benefitted from alittle more tie with the recent murder of Draco and the destruction of the organization but Benson went to fairly elaborate lengths to assure us that Union was annihilated.

    The plot of the book is a little James Clavall for my tastes despite the welcome return of Tiger Tanaka (another of Fleming’s “vaguely creepy” friends for James Bond). I was somewhat annoyed that Tiger hadnt benefitted from the same immunity to aging that James had. He should have still been the head of the Japanese secret service and every bit as fit as before. The anti-Western plot of the story’s villain seems a bit dated for modern Japan and even in the context of the book is treated as a bit out there… [Full review here]

    CBn Forum member Willowhugger

    They all have their moments and Benson was excellent at original ideas and deft plotting in his Bond novels.

    Tattoo is quite good and he certainly captures Japan very well. As the Japanese devotion to this work attests.

    CBn Forum member ACE

    I liked the ending, it had a great pace to it and Bond’s remark to Yoshida’s friend at the end is priceless. The perfect burn as the man is being taken away by the police.

    CBn Forum member Genrewriter

    I am a huge fan of The Man With The Red Tattoo.

    CBn Forum member zencat

    It’s a great book. I’ve only read Benson’s last two books, but that one is a perfect 007 yarn, and better than Never Dream of Dying.

    Two random thoughts on Red Tattoo;

    1). It almost has the so-called Fleming sweep. Not quite but very close.
    2). The techno-thriller edge to it is very Tom Clancy influenced. And better done–Clancy would waste too many trees trying to describe something, but Benson gets it right in less words.

    CBn Forum member Wilbs

    I love The Man With The Red Tattoo! It is one of the best Bond novels and certainly one of Benson’s best, in my opinion.

    CBn Forum member Agent Righty007

    I have to say The Man With The Red Tattoo was a bit dissapointing… I don’t know exactly why, but I just couldn’t get ‘into’ the story, as I did with for instance Doubleshot, which was excellent

    CBn Forum member Joyce Carrington

    Just finished my first Benson Bond novel, The Man With The Red Tattoo, I loved it! I had previously read Benson’s two Splinter Cell books and enjoyed them; I had planned to read through all the Gardner books first, but I’d gotten up to No Deals, Mr. Bond and was finding it deadly dull. So I picked up The Man With The Red Tattoo for a change of pace, it was the only Benson one they had at the used bookstore, I figured since it wasn’t one of his trilogy books it was safe to read (though there are clear references to previous books).
    Anyway, I loved it! Benson perfectly captures that Fleming travelogue feel, we get a real sense of what its like to be in all those Japanese locales. I also enjoyed the larger-than-life and slightly surreal qualities of the story, such as the ‘kappa’ dwarf assassin(!) as well as the big mosquito scheme. I appreciated the little nods to Fleming stories, such as the random Quantum of Solace reference, Bond dreading returning to Japan after the events of You Only Live Twice, and the return of Tiger Tanaka.

    CBn Forum member dinovelvet