‘All the Bond ingredients are here’ - The Evening Standard
by Robert Markham
Date Published: 1968
Colonel Sun was published in 1968 and is the first novel featuring the character of James Bond to appear after the death of his creator. It was published under the name of Robert Markham. This pseudonym was later revealed as the disguise of Kingsley Amis, the distinguished novelist and author of The James Bond Dossier, which was published in 1965. Colonel Sun was a great success on publication and the intriguing mystery of the author’s identify was well kept.
Amis was happy to write a foreword to the novel’s reissue in 1991 in which he said, ‘I wrote this book, sidestepping out of my career as a straight novelist for the occasion, because I was asked to do so and because I found the project irresistible. When Ian Fleming died in 1964, it was felt that James Bond was too popular a figure to be allowed to follow him. Who was around that might provide a passable successor to the Fleming canon?
‘No doubt I seemed as likely a lad as most. My last novel under my own name had had bits of espionage in it More to the point, I had published in 1965 what was intended as a light-hearted and sympathetic survey of the original thirteen volumes, The James Bond Dossier, most of it written before Fleming’s death and approved by him in all but three tiny details, which I corrected. And, as I said, I could not wait to try it.’
Lunch at Scott’s, a quiet game of golf, a routine social call on his chief M, convalescing in his Regency house in Berkshire – the life of secret agent James Bond has begun to fall into a pattern that threatens complacency … until the sunny afternoon when M is kidnapped and his house staff savagely murdered.
The action ricochets across the globe to a volcanic Greek island where the glacial, malign Colonel Sun Liang-tan of the People’s Liberation Army of China collaborates with an ex-nazi atrocity expert in a world-menacing conspiracy. Bond finds himself working in alliance with the beautiful tawny-blonde agent of a rival secret service in the struggle to overpower this ruthless enemy who discards the unwritten rules of espionage. Stripped of all professional aids, Bond faces unarmed the monstrous devices of Colonel Sun in a test that brings him to the verge of his physical endurance.
Incredibly, the author adds his own imaginative impetus to the Bond saga yet preserves all the excitement and eloquence, the pace and glitter of a vintage Fleming novel