Fictional Secret Agents and Spies

Licence Renewed

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 August, 2011, 12:00am

Licence Renewed
by John Gardner (read by Jeremy Northam)
Orion Publishing (audiobook)

If the title of John Gardner's novel sounds a little familiar, well, that's because it's meant to be. Gardner wasn't the first writer to resurrect James Bond after Ian Fleming's death (that honour went to Kingsley Amis) but few have done more to extend the series, whether in volume or range. By the time he wrote his final instalment, Cold, he had produced more original Bond novels (14) than Fleming (12). Licence Renewed takes certain liberties: it was set in the 1980s, at the time of Gardner's writing (1981). In a neat twist, the famous '00' division is no longer in operation. Bond is, in effect, a freelancer, but still works for M - in this case to discover why nuclear physicist Dr Anton Murik has met with a dastardly terrorist called Franco. Miss Moneypenny helps out with some light-hearted flirting - romance of a more physical nature is supplied by Ann Reilly, the new Q - or Q'ute as Bond calls her, shortly before he leaves her shaken and not a little stirred. English actor Jeremy Northam (Gosford Park) reads this new audiobook with attractively clipped poshness, and makes the lighter, more romantic passages come to life. Great fun.