Series: James Bond #2
Published by Penguin Random House on May 26, 2022
Narrator: Rory Kinnear
Length: 7hrs 24mins
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Bookshop
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.Goodreads
It is M's funeral. One man is missing from the graveside: the traitor who pulled the trigger and who is now in custody, accused of M's murder - James Bond.
Behind the Iron Curtain, a group of former Smersh agents want to use the British spy in an operation that will change the balance of world power. Bond is smuggled into the lion's den - but whose orders is he following, and will he obey them when the moment of truth arrives?
In a mission where treachery is all around and one false move means death, Bond must grapple with the darkest questions about himself. But not even he knows what has happened to the man he used to be.
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
It’s a long, long time since I read a James Bond novel. Many years ago I read one of the original Bond’s written by Ian Fleming but it’s so long now that I couldn’t even tell you which it was. I have however, watched all of the films many times.
It says a lot for the writing skills of Anthony Horowitz that he has been entrusted to continue on the James Bond novels, as well as the Sherlock Holmes novels, although I believe that he has said this will be his last
At the start of this novel there is a brief update on what happened in the previous novels
In You Only Live Twice, James Bond was sent to Japan, where he tracked down Ernst Stavro Blofeld on the island of Kyushu. Following a pitched battle in Blofeld’s ‘Garden of Death’ Bond received a traumatic head injury which resulted in amnesia. He spent the next year in a Japanese fishing village. He was reported as missing in action. His obituary was published in The Times.
In The Man With The Golden Gun, the twelth and final James Bond novel written by Ian Fleming, Bond returned to London after having fallen into the hands of the KGB. He had been brainwashed and ordered to assassinate M with a cyanide pistol. The attempt failed. Bond was deprogrammed and sent to Jamaica to kill the freelance assassin ‘Pistols’ Scaramanga.
With A Mind To Kill begins 2 weeks after that mission ends.
Both You Only Live Twice and The Man With The Golden Gun are referenced throughout Horowitz’s writing and Fleming’s work has obviously heavily influenced this storyline (I believe there were notes that he had for future stories which were made available to Horowitz’s previous 2 books, but not for this one).
What immediately struck me was how this novel is following on from where Fleming left off. This hasn’t moved to a modern day setting but is still set in the 1960’s when the original books were. Horowitz is (I think) the fifth author to take on the Bond novels and I found it interesting that he has chosen to pick them up in this way, staying true to what Fleming would have (presumably) done, rather than modernising them as other authors have done.
Bond still has an eye for the ladies with Russian Katya Leonova playing his ‘love interest’, as ever with Bond you are asking the question as to whether she is simply a conquest or the real deal, and whether he is capable of the feelings everyone else actually succumb to.
I found him to be less arrogant in this novel than I expected, he’s more subdued than the Bond that I am used to seeing on my screen, more level headed. He will do anything to protect his country and his colleagues, the danger to his life seems to be secondary in his thoughts.
I listened to the audiobook of With A Mind to Kill which was narrated by Rory Kinnear who has played Tanner in 4 of Daniel Craig’s Bond films and has also voiced other audiobooks of Harowitz’s work. I really think he was the perfect choice, he captures Bond expertly and was easily distinguishable between all of the characters. Reviews of Harowitz’s previous novel, A Line To Kill, have commented that Kinnear had a tendency to overact, while I’ve not yet listened to that book myself (it is sat in my Audible downloads) I can confirm that this definitely wasn’t the case here.