While we’re on the subject of Bond continuation novels, William Boyd’s Solo is the most recent. The previous installment was the lamentable Carte Blanche by Jeffrey Deaver—the best thing about it is a cocktail recipe, unnamed in the book but referred to as a Carte Blanche despite other drinks with that name. Unlike Carte Blanche, Boyd’s Solo mercifully spares us the details of Bond’s iPhone.
Solo is set in 1969, several years after The Man with the Golden Gun (Fleming’s final, posthumously published, Bond novel). It was good to see 007 navigating Cold War politics again (why don’t the moviemakers try that out?), but Solo deviates from the Fleming mold in other ways.
Unlike Kingsley Amis, Boyd does not embrace genre fiction. Instead, Solo seems more like James Bond as written by John Updike. Boyd gives us a more literary, introspective Bond. Fleming’s heroes are surprisingly deep, though never at the expense of delivering a cracking potboiler. Boyd’s plot is seemingly borrowed from John D. MacDonald’s Nightmare in Pink, and is not terribly compelling. It serves to facilitate Bond’s navel-gazing, but not his heroics.