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Topic: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

I have just finished Reading Trigger Mortis and I felt this thread was needed. Trigger Mortis is a good thriller, probably the best Bond novel since Colonel Sun. The plot is origional enough not  to be a copy, but still very bondian. I think this is a very good use of space rockets in the story. It could very well had been too simular to DN, but I don't think it is. The F1 racing works very well, and I frankly think it was about time motor racing was used in a Bond story. They have even used tennis earlier! I think the chapter written by Fleming is a highlight in the novel, but at the same time I think a reader could get through the novel without noticing there are two authours involved. I also think the characters are good. The background of the villan is interesting.  I consider myself well-read in the field of history, especially the cold war, but the No Gun Ri massacre was new to me. I also liked the  female characters. Including Pussy Galore in the story worked well in my opinion, but I'm not sure about the gold paint scene. It is somewhat explained by being a revenge from the Goldfinger crew, but not fully. To me it reads a bit too much of homage/copying. Perhaps using cold water on her instead of gold paint would be fresher. Nude, tied up and sprayed with water in the cold night would have killed Pussy Galore in a horrible manner if Bond hadn't saved her.
Letting Pussy Galore end up with one of the girls is a fun and new twist in a Bond novel. I'm not so fond of the idea of making the head of Station G a gay man. Fleming was a homephobe and obviously no-one can write that way today . Fine. But to me that issue was believably updated by letting Bond have a realtionship with a bisexual woman. Giving him a male gay friend was a bridge too far. I simply don't believe Fleming's Bond would do that.

Many were sceptical about the title of this novel, including me. If the title had only been used the way it's used in the final chapter (the shooting of the Russian racing driver) it would have been horrible. Thankfully the term is mainly used  referring to the abort button during a rocket launch, and I think it works fine.

Last edited by Number24 (11th Sep 2015 17:57)

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Re: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

Number 24.   I think your pretty much spot on and I have very similar thoughts!

Just finished it myself. 

Pussy Galore was indeed a bit unnecessary - I think maybe he should have left the character moping around his flat and returning to US.  The kidnapping and gold paint was indeed a bit OTT.  We knew pussy was back a while ago since he revealed to the press.  Maybe a touch of Marketing here to sell the book??

I believe the racing chapter was not written by Fleming but inspired by him and used the title (e.g Sterling Moss was changed).  I think Horowitz said he used 500 words by Fleming for the "M" meeting.  My waterstones copy with the Fleming story appended has not arrived yet.

Overall I maybe enjoyed it on par or slightly more then Col Sun.  I think his writing style started off very Fleming but faded over the course of the book!    The intro introducing the Rocket scientist and his fate was very Bond!!!   

I missed some of the simple Fleming trademarks such as his drinking and descriptive eating! Horowitz Bond appears to smoke a lot but not eat and drink so much!!!

The main villain wasnt bad at all, maybe not too original but I liked his backstory and his signature / trademark method of dealing out his victims murder  (deck of cards)

Overall a good effort and enjoyable read.  Ive only just read DMC and Solo and this trounces both

Last edited by welshboy78 (12th Sep 2015 13:22)

Instagram - bondclothes007

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Re: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

I pretty much agree with both of you. Pussy was not needed ( although I did
expect to see her again, when Bond went to New York)  good story well written
and exciting, in my opinion once again pointed out before. He starts of very
Fleming in style, but the later parts of the book. To me at least read more like
John Gardner. He also did ram home the meaning if the title, he must explain
The Story of what " Trigger Mortis" was at least three times.
  It's definitely better than the last three efforts, and I'd love to hear Horowitz has
been commissioned to write another.  ajb007/martini

"Let his death be a particularly unpleasant and humiliating one."

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Re: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

Thunderpussy wrote:

He also did ram home the meaning if the title, he must explain
The Story of what " Trigger Mortis" was at least three times.
  It's definitely better than the last three efforts, and I'd love to hear Horowitz has
been commissioned to write another.  ajb007/martini

Indeed!  I think in the story Bond also came across quite a few locked doors also that he 'dealt' with

Instagram - bondclothes007

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Re: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

so is this between Goldfinger and Thunderball, or between Goldfinger and For Your Eyes Only

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Re: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

I think it's set two weeks after Goldfinger.

"Let his death be a particularly unpleasant and humiliating one."

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Re: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

welshboy78 wrote:

Pussy Galore was indeed a bit unnecessary - I think maybe he should have left the character moping around his flat and returning to US.  The kidnapping and gold paint was indeed a bit OTT.  We knew pussy was back a while ago since he revealed to the press.  Maybe a touch of Marketing here to sell the book??

I've only read up to Chapter 5 so far, to the conclusion of the Pussy Galore strand; I've briefly scanned the beginning of this thread for comments about her character but haven't read other remarks yet, as I want to avoid the spoilers.

I'm enjoying this novel a lot. Horowitz is doing at least as good a job as any previous imitator in serving up the Fleming effect. His real achievement with the Pussy Galore strand is that he manages to evoke both the Bond and the Pussy of old, at the same time as bringing Pussy's story to a resolution which sits with a more enlightened, more modern acceptance of differing sexualities than Fleming ever entertained. Pussy is no longer a sexually aberrant character 'converted' from lesbianism by the masculine prowess of Bond, a real man - as in Fleming. Instead, she's credited with having made her own sexual choice in being with Bond: "We had fun, didn't we? That Goldfinger thing was crazy and I'm glad that in the end we were together just so that I could find out what it was like."  Pussy's identity as a lesbian is finally affirmed and she gets the girl, Logan Fairfax, that Bond has desired but not managed to sleep with. Pussy's remark about Bond's own sexuality is as perceptive as it is ironic: "You know what the big difference is between us? You can't live with a woman in your life."  Horowitz's writing pleasingly delivers so many of the aesthetic qualities that fans of Fleming adore - this indeed feels like a genuine adventure of the original Bond, and it's certainly true that in the Wiltshire woodlands Pussy proves as much a pulp-fiction damsel in distress as any of Fleming's female creations - but even so Horowitz has managed to tackle Fleming's homophobia without disrupting the reader's sense of immersion in Bond's world.

No doubt including Pussy Galore is good marketing. Horowitz has nevertheless managed to do something worthwhile with her.

Last edited by Shady Tree (15th Sep 2015 07:58)

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Re: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

Some good points Shady Tree and I agree.   I think the gold paint part of the story was the bit which I thought was a bit too OTT / too throwback to Fleming.

I would add more but will refrain since you are at Chapter 5

Instagram - bondclothes007

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Re: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

I have to make one thing clear: I don't mind that Pussy Galore is in the book, just the use of gold paint. It's just too much of a reference to Goldfinger. Other than the gold paint I think Horowitz doesn't overdo the referances to other books (some of the earlier writers did overdo this)

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Re: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

I was expecting a Moonraker reference   ( which did occur) and
Dr No gets a mention, but both were subtle enough.

"Let his death be a particularly unpleasant and humiliating one."

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Re: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

welshboy78 wrote:

Some good points Shady Tree and I agree.   I think the gold paint part of the story was the bit which I thought was a bit too OTT / too throwback to Fleming.

I would add more but will refrain since you are at Chapter 5

I think the way that Horowitz handles the gold paint idea is good, eschewing the glamour associated with it ever since the GF movie. Horowitz's down-and-dirty descriptions of the attempted murder of Pussy Galore, and how Bond rescues her from the thugs, put me in mind of the tone of Vivienne Michel's story in 'The Spy Who Loved Me' more than, say, Shirley Eaton on the cover of 'Life' magazine. (It's interesting that this literary revisiting of the gold paint idea follows a few years in the wake of the very different movie homage with Strawberry Fields in QOS.) Without wishing to seem a continuity freak, my only criticism is that it would have been interesting to have learned a little more about the identity of the two gangsters who assault Pussy, and the precise connection they'd had to the late Goldfinger's operation; they are a little obscure, as is their revenge motive.

I'm now up to Chapter 12. The fact that Charlie Duggan is not only Bond's ally and an opinionated conversationalist in the grand tradition of Rene Mathis, Kerim Bey, Felix Leiter and Dikko Henderson, but also openly gay, further bears out my earlier point that Horowitz is able at once to challenge Fleming's homophobia while faithfully revisiting his literary world. Duggan's demonstrative criticisms of Bond's old-fashioned prejudices, while written in Fleming's style, might easily have been addressed to Fleming directly: "The trouble with you, James, is you're basically a prude. ..." 

Duggan's extended pontification about the significance of 'the space race' is also very clever writing. It's easy to imagine this as an opinionated piece by Fleming on a subject of developing topical interest in the late 50s - and Fleming would have given such a monologue precisely to a character like Duggan.  But of course what's happening is that Horowitz is pulling off an historical take on quasi-journalistic speculation about a politico-cultural issue which at the time would have seemed very 'now'.

I enjoyed the motor race sequence - Horowitz can write action like Fleming - though I'm not sure that Fleming's more ruthless Bond would have bothered taking the risk to save Dimitrov from the crashed Krassny.

Jeopardy Lane slipping away with the photographs that Bond had gone to all the trouble of stealing from Sin's office made me think less of Fleming than of the one-upmanship (womanship) of the likes of Magda in OP, or Anya Amasova or Holly Goodhead.

Jason Sin is shaping up nicely as a sinister Flemingesque villain, though at this stage I'm missing Fleming's trademark glint of red in anyone's eye...

Last edited by Shady Tree (14th Sep 2015 13:09)

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Re: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

Welshboy mentioned he missed descriptive eating in TM. I agree and I migh add exotic locations. There was the German castle, but even that was a bit gritty! It comes down to Sin's lack of interest in luxury and his physical surroundings due to his single minded quest for revenge, something I think was a good character trait. Still, I would like locations that were more Bond and less le Carre.
Perhaps the racing coarse he practices on and the place Bond and Logan Fairfax stay should be more colourful, possibly Ireland or the south of France?

Also, did you notice the complete lack of gadgets? I'm not complaining - just pointing it out.

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Re: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

I think the idea was to have Bond winning, with no
back up or special equipment. Rather like in Col Sun
where Bond kills with only a knife at the climax of the story ?

"Let his death be a particularly unpleasant and humiliating one."

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Re: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

Number24 wrote:

It comes down to Sin's lack of interest in luxury and his physical surroundings due to his single minded quest for revenge

With Sin's owning that German Castle or that Poet's villa in the States, I think it was a quirk that Horowitz was trying to establish. The quirk being that Sin only produced second rate knock-offs.

Everything appeared luxurious and capable on the outside, but within, cheap and bleak, and failing.

It could also have been a way to allow some James Bond racial feelings into the story, where Asian products are seen as cheap.

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Re: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

I asumed  Sin rejected luxury because he considered
himself to have died that day under the bridge. Hence
he had no intetest in food or drink, took no enjoyment
from them ?

"Let his death be a particularly unpleasant and humiliating one."

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Re: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

I like Sin (  ajb007/lol)  and the way he's portrayed. But Bond should still like fine food and luxury. His car racing training would be the right place to show that, IMO.

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Re: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

I've finished reading the novel today so can post my third set of comments... All credit to Horowitz for succeeding in pulling off the very tricky job of writing a period-piece novel capable of slipping convincingly into Fleming's oeuvre so many years on, while satisfying the sensibilities of a 2015 readership. (Any writer who includes in a Bond novel the words "questing" and "impassively" certainly knows his Fleming, though Horowitz avoids going overboard in his use of Fleming's stock-in-trade semantics...)

I've already expressed my admiration for how Horowitz manages to challenge Fleming's sexual politics at the same time as delivering 'the Fleming effect' of genre and prose style. Having completed my reading, I feel that Horowitz deals with Fleming's racism in a similarly effective way.  If the villain and several of his henchmen are Korean, Sin's description of how he was brutalised in an atrocity perpetrated by the Americans during the Korean War offers an understanding of his psychological complex in historical terms.  Within the constraints of the Bond genre, Horowitz is historicising the villain here, rather than doing as Fleming often did - equating 'Eastern' ethnicities with villainous characteristics as a fact of nature (witness Oddjob).

Horowitz's chapter about Bond escaping being buried alive is a real achievement. The episode is hardly original (Tarantino brilliantly explores a similar situation on film in 'Kill Bill Vol. 2'), but the author proves himself to be the only Fleming imitator really capable of following Fleming's style of writing about torturous tests of Bond's physical and psychological endurance.

It's true, as others have said, that Bond's pleasure in dining isn't as prominent in 'Trigger Mortis' as it is in Fleming. At least we get a meal of grilled sole in the Rendezvous Room of the Plaza in the penultimate chapter (albeit with no lingering descriptions of the food!) During the course of the novel Horowitz touches on the morose experience of eating in American all-night diners, and although readers looking for more instances of luxury might be disappointed, this attention to unsatisfactory American dining has a clear precedent in one of Fleming's own Bonds, 'Live and Let Die'. 

Bond's decision to spare the life of the youthful, sandy-haired Danny Slater as one of 'the little people' working in Sin's organisation - a rabbit caught in the headlights - is an interesting case of revisionism. I don't think that Fleming would have thought twice about having Bond kill the man in the specific situation depicted, hardened as the author was by the lived experience of WWII, though perhaps his Bond might have wallowed in a melancholy reflection on the death after the job was done.  Horowitz, exhibiting a softer side, confers human vulnerability on Slater and uses a last-second decision by Bond to spare the man as a key marker of moral difference between Bond as the hero and Sin as the villain. It's tempting to compare this modern take on Bond's moral compass with recent explorations of the character's judgement in the films. In QOS, Daniel Craig's Bond kills a "Mr. Slate" - also sandy haired, though himself a professional killer - much to M's dismay (she wanted Slate brought in alive for interrogation); by the end of the film, Bond has learned the necessary restraint, apparently foregoing personal vengeance in leaving Yusef alive for interrogation.

While we're on the subject of the films, I can't resist mentioning a trivial detail by which Horowitz links Jeopardy Lane to screen heroines Camille in QOS and Aki in YOLT. In QOS, Camille repeatedly instructs Bond to "Get in!" various vehicles - a cute nod to Aki, who herself told Bond to "Get in!" her car for two different escapes. Back in 1967, there might have been some sexist/racist joke under the surface re. a woman being in the driving seat and repeatedly taking charge, but by 2008 the QOS allusion to Aki is just a whimsical piece of intertextuality. In 'Trigger Mortis', Jeopardy commands Bond to "Get in!" her Plymouth to escape the gunmen in the Starlite Motel compound, and then again she orders him to "Get on!" her Triumph Thunderbird, in pursuit of Sin's R-11: it seems that Horowitz, too, is enjoying some subtle, intertextual play!

Last edited by Shady Tree (14th Sep 2015 16:58)

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Re: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

An interesting review! I had completely forgotten about Danny Slater. I'm on the fence about Bond not killing him. Like you wrote, Fleming would have, but is Horowitz changing Bond too much here? I simply don't know.

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Re: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

I just finished the book.  I'm quite surprised it's received such positive reviews. 

I found it very predictable, almost boring, and to a large extent a rehash of Dr. No/Man with the Golden Gun.

It's certainly better than anything written by Benson- but that's not saying much........

This is where we leave you Mr. Bond. (Pilot, Apollo Airlines)

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Re: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

Thunderpussy wrote:

I pretty much agree with both of you. Pussy was not needed ( although I did
expect to see her again, when Bond went to New York)  good story well written
and exciting, in my opinion once again pointed out before. He starts of very
Fleming in style, but the later parts of the book. To me at least read more like
John Gardner. He also did ram home the meaning if the title, he must explain
The Story of what " Trigger Mortis" was at least three times.
  It's definitely better than the last three efforts, and I'd love to hear Horowitz has
been commissioned to write another.  ajb007/martini

Trigger Mortis is the Book at Bedtime-10.45pm for 2 weeks (10 parts-Mon to Friday.) on BBC Radio4 (UK).
Starting tonight and then I'll watch The Graham Norton Show with Bond actors. at 11.20. (repeated from Friday.)

cheers, Bleuville.

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Re: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

Live webchat With Antony Horowitz on theguardian.com right now!

http://www.theguardian.com/books/live/2 … ith-saddam

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Re: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

New to the forum here. Thought folks might be interested in my review of Trigger Mortis from The Federalist. See here:
http://thefederalist.com/2015/11/06/sha … nd-novels/
The short version is that I'm part of the crowd that just doesn't get all the early positive reviews.

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Re: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

Very nice review jlondon.  Probably the best I've read.......

I do think this novel has been generally overrated by Bond fans and with time will be viewed as a stinker- think Faulks and Benson.

This is where we leave you Mr. Bond. (Pilot, Apollo Airlines)

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Re: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

Polar Bear 0007 wrote:

Very nice review jlondon.  Probably the best I've read.......

I do think this novel has been generally overrated by Bond fans and with time will be viewed as a stinker- think Faulks and Benson.

You make it sound like one has a poor sense of taste to like it.  I liked TM more than any of the Benson books, some of the Gardners, and definitely more than Deaver, Faulks, Boyd and even Cole.

"...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....

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Re: Members' reviews of "Trigger Mortis" (spoilers)

Fair enough superado, but my intent was not to attack anyone's "poor sense of taste".  I thought Boyd's effort was the best of the recent books and many of Gardner's very good. 

I was simply stating my opinion on the book and was pleased to see a review that I generally agreed with.  I was very excited when TM was released, but in my opinion it was poorly written, boardered on plagiarism, and a very big disappointment.  Only my opinion, sorry you were offended.

PS- for what it's worth, I think you were spot on regarding your comments on the new comic release!

This is where we leave you Mr. Bond. (Pilot, Apollo Airlines)