While the problems at MGM have thoroughly scuppered Bond 23 for the time being, fans of the superspy need not quite despair. There is methadone on the way to tide us over: the Ian Fleming estate has commissioned Jeffery Deaver to write a new James Bond novel.
Deaver is the huge-selling American crime-writer best known for his series of novels featuring the quadriplegic forensic detective Lincoln Rhyme. The first of them, The Bone Collector, was filmed with Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie in 1999.
The author won the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for thriller writing in 2004, and it was the enthusiasm he displayed for Bond in his acceptance speech that attracted the Fleming estate's attention. His Bond novel, currently untitled and being referred to as Project X, will be set in the present day, and take in "three or four exotic locations."
Deaver, the second US author to write a Bond pastiche following a long series by Raymond Benson (others have been written by Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and most recently Sebastian Faulks), says the book will stay true to "the persona of James Bond as Fleming created him and the unique tone the author brought to his books" while also incorporating Deaver's own "literary trademarks: detailed research, fast pacing and surprise twists."
Sounds like he's getting more into it than Faulks who, even at the point of publication, was rather sniffy about the Fleming centenary Devil May Care project: knocking it out in six weeks as a technical exercise. That didn't stop it achieving the status of Penguin's fastest selling title ever though.
Project X will be published by Hodder, whose director of fiction Carolyn Mays says that, "If Bond fans know Jeffery and his work they won't have any qualms at all. He is American but he knows Fleming and Bond back to front, and he's also got a very European sensibility. I'm sure he will do a brilliant job and do Bond justice."
Project X, whatever it turns out to be called, should be published in May 2011.