Book Review

Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz

i read another book i probably wouldn't read if i had self-respect

It’s 2.30am and I’m recently home after my first shift at work as a 33-year old. It’s September 4th.

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Good news in Ontario in the last few days, as a comprehensive vaccine passport system has been announced. Soon, the “vaccine resistant” will be unable to go to gyms, to restaurants, to cinemas, to museums, to places, basically. Good. The only way out of this mess is via mass immunisation.

I have already spent far too much time over the past few days responding to emails from anti-vaxxers. They don’t want to have to give up things in exchange for a vaccine. But the ignorant little shits are ignoring the fact that we ALL have to give up SO MANY FUCKING THINGS because of this pandemic, which they are causing to continue.

I’m already tired of it. There is no valid argument. There is only pig ignorant bullshit.

In my industry, it is a common mantra that “the customer is always right”; this isn’t the case when the customer doesn’t understand that vaccines work. Pricks.

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On my birthday, I rode a horse.

I took public transport for around two hours each way (I can’t afford a car lol) and then sat on a big horse called Maple as she followed some other horses, slowly, around a green patch of countryside just to the north of the city.

It was very meditative, sitting on Maple and passing through fields. I enjoyed it. I think I will ride a horse again. I like the idea of, ten years in the future, living somewhere rural and warm and riding a horse to places where I can badly teach English to strange people.

I think I’d wear a cowboy hat.

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I spent a lot of time on the horse singing this song in my head:

And this song, too, obvs:

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I went to a cocktail bar on my way from the station to my lover (I went alone to ride a horse) and they gave me a free piña colada because I told them it was my birthday and I accidentally spilt it. How embarrassing.

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Travelling around the city and beyond its boundaries, I read all but the last forty pages of Anthony Horowitz’s 2015 James Bond novel, Trigger Mortis

I read the rest of it en route to work this (well, yesterday) morning, then the finale, the denouement, when I got back home after a day of having to respond to emails from anti-vaxxers. (God, I despair of them.)

As someone who read all of Ian Fleming’s Bond writing a long, long, long, time ago (there were definitely people riding horses on the same “first come, first served” horse “trek” I was on who had been born more in the decade (more?) since I read the final page of You Only Live Twice), and who has dipped into John Gardner’s James Bond novels semi-regularly since (I own FOUR I am yet to read), I was curious to read Horowitz’s Bond. 

I – ah – wasn’t overwhelmed.

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I first read Anthony Horowitz a very long time ago, too – I bought one of his “Diamond Brothers” books from one of those weird “school book fairs” often tweeted about by the kind of people who talk about their mental health diagnoses even more than I do (I’ve been diagnosed #BPD baybe – no, not Baltimore Police Department like a young Dominic West lol haha) when I was like eight or nine, and I loved it. 

I think I read everything he had written up to that point, and I was thrilled when he began writing a kid-friendly spy series called Alex Rider, which continued long after I grew out of it. Horowitz went on to have a successful career writing ITV cop shows, none of which I will ever watch, and then either just before – or just after – this Bond novel, he wrote a couple of Sherlock Holmes novels, too. I haven’t read those.

This book ignores the usual conceit of post-Fleming Bond, and doesn’t try to set the action in the present day. Rather, instead, Horowitz deliberately styles it as a sequel to Goldfinger, even going so far as continuing Bond’s relationship with Pussy Galore until she finds herself a real woman to remind her that she doesn’t need a man.

Unlike the far more engaging near-satire of Sebastian Faulks’ Bond, Devil May Care, written as an affectionate (yet cutting) satire of Ian Fleming’s writing style, this one feels a little flat, and full of anachronisms that would make sense for a 2015 Bond but feel annoying in a supposed 1957 Bond. I’m talking about the scene where he drinks a negroni.

There’s a bit of “have cake eat cake” to the whole thing, too: a tone of “playing with racism” that just comes across as racist, and the main narrative threat ends up being about a Korean victim of American war crimes who wants to blow up New York City skyscrapers, which is as close to “James Bond stops 9/11” as Horowitz could get without him literally writing a “Pierce Brosnan IS John Gardner’s James Bond STOPPING 9/11” piece while still making it clear it’s “James Bond stops 9/11”.

Anyway.

There are rockets and terrorism, cruelty and violence, sadism aplenty and a little bit of snobbery but – much like with John Gardner – one doesn’t get the sense that the snobbery exhibited is a very thorough or deep one. Also the sex is prudishly vague. Surely the one reason to sign up to writing an official Bond novel now is getting to write lurid sex scenes? Maybe that attitude is why they’ll never let me write one (also I’m not successful enough).

By setting itself in the fifties, Trigger Mortis feels more like vague Bond fan fiction than a coherent “contemporary Bond novel”. But oh well.

Will I read the other Horowitz Bond novel I have? Yes, eventually. Will I read all those John Gardners? Probably, yes.

Maybe I should grow myself more cocking self respect. I am, after all, the age of Christ.

Now I need to not get angry about anti-vaxxers again before I fall asleep.

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