Author: Steve Cole
Bond Books Reviews: Steve Cole
Hardcover Published by: Doubleday Books
Paperback Published by: Red Fox ( Penguin )
1) Young Bond - Shoot To Kill ( 2014 )
The Young Bond series baton started by Charlie Higson is handed to Steve Cole. The book has a black & silver text cover and rear silver & black text includes quote of .. Before the Man Became the Legend, Before the Boy Became the Man with added YOUNG BOND WILL RETURN.
First chapter opens with a strange killing in Los Angeles by Mac & The Kid. Meanwhile Young James Bond is back after his expulsion from Eton and sent to Darlington Hall, a relaxed, quiet school in the countryside or is it ? It meant as a break before being sent to Fettes in Scotland by his aunt. But his plans for a peaceful summer are never realised after he accidentally receives a rather gruesome and deadly film reel which runs through the narrative.
After a car rush by James to catch up, he joins the school trip, led by head teacher Gillian, in an airship to the film studios of Los Angeles where he and his friends Hugo, Dan and Boudicca (aka Boody) become woven into a dark web of murder, revenge and conspiracy, all set within the mysterious world of Hollywood cinema. So why the invite by movie mogul Anton Kostler, owner of Allworld Studios and the baddie in this adventure ? His son Martyn, no angel is not helping matters. After a car ambush James encounters Tori Wo, a LA journalist who is out to get that gangster ring scoop. Other questions to be asked, what is Queenmarsh & Zelda and who is the mysterious Fedora Man ?
So this book, priced at £12.99, (now out in paperback see below) with 296 pages of large text and a rear page acknowledgment left me satisfied but not over excited. Inside the front & rear covers, there is an artist impression of the airship and also opening 2 pages of maps showing story locations: Totnes to Cardington (car journey) and London to Los Angeles (airship journey). Still not sure if a younger reader will get caught up in this first Young Bond outing by this new writer especially when compared to the 'real world' of current action movies. Worth a library read to decide.
Update 2015: The paperback version priced £6.99 with new artwork and Sunday Express top quote: "Packed with blackmail, murder and revenge ... Young Bond at his best".
2) Young Bond - Heads You Die ( May 2016 )
Published by: Red Fox
Read this author's 2nd Young Bond adventure which takes him to Havana, Cuba.
The paperback front heading of "Risk everything to win. Or lose your life" meanwhile the back cover warns us "HEARD OR TAILS. LIVE OR DIE.'
All this happens after his Hollywood adventure, James still with pal Hugo is sent to Cuba by Aunt Charmain to spend a holiday with a family friend, Dr Gerald Hardiman. On their arrival in Havana and after a brief meet-up meal, things go pear shape with his disappearance. The boys set out to find him and along the way discover what he has been doing in the Caribbean.
After the usual prologue when a woman steals a secret from Scolopendra Industries. A boat chase ensues but she fails with a disastrous ending. Meanwhile the boys after advising the Police get little help and encounter/meet up with 2 young girls Maritsa & Jagua, the latter being the daughter of the villain, Scolopendra described with "long hair, panther-black .. immaculate in a steel grey suit." His silver dollar tosses remind of Batman's Harvey 'Two-Face' Dent that decide "Head you die". He is aided by La Veleda, a mysteriously dressed lady whom we discover has her own agenda. Jagua tries to convince dad but sadly doesn't believe a word. His 2 henchmen Ramon and El Puno, both nasty piece of works, pursue the party across the island.
The explosive climax after escaping the burning villain's lair and still in pursuit of the doctor is out at sea as the group minus one battle to stop the discovered deadly virus which is destined to cripple Britain. Despite contacting British Secret Intelligence Service, failing to speak to agent Adam Elmhirst ( wonder why ? ) from previous & later adventures. Help is found from American agent Franklin Ford who is subjected to much torture from all before saved.
The adventure with plenty of blood & killings is told over 310 pages & 32 chapters priced at £6.99. Strange I keep records of books read but kept feeling I read this one before, worth a read to the exciting conclusion when Young Bond, battered & bruised, lives to fight another day while helpful friend Hugo is luckier with the ladies this time.
3) Young Bond - Strike Lightning ( Nov 2016 )
Published by: Red Fox
Read this author's 3rd Young Bond adventure which takes him to Holland & Germany
The paperback front heading of "The worst kind of enemy has a new kind of weapon".
After a harrowing prologue in The Dead Land, we catch up with Bond at Fettes College, Edinburgh practicing his judo skills with friend Marcus watched by other pal Perry Mandeville.
During a 'lightning' night that claims a young life, James & Perry seek to find out the truth and the nearby trail leads to some nasty villains. So following outside the college, a drive leads them to a cargo ship where they hide and end up in Holland. On the run they luckily meet up with a young trainspotter called Kitty Drift, a past friend of 'Mandy'.
Chases ensue, along with an evening party with another deathly end. With Perry injured, James discovers The Ghost Train, much to Kitty's delight and an uncomfortable journey takes them to neighbouring Germany. They learn more about the Steel Shadow, captured they are used as guinea pigs to test another improved version called The Blutbanner devised for world terror by ??
Will James get home to Aunt Charmain for Xmas ? Can he defeat the evil baddies including an unfriendly lady called Herta with help from his friends ? An interesting tale for our young hero so worth a read. The adventure is told over 267 pages & 29 chapters priced at £7.99 includes after the end story, the opening chapter of Charlie Higson's Silverfin.
4) Young Bond - Red Nemesis ( May 2017 )
Published by: Red Fox
Finally read at time of the football World Cup Cole's 4th & final Young Bond adventure which takes him to Russia not for footie but to uncover a cryptic clue from his late Dad.
The paperback heading of "The dead don't stay buried. The past won't rest in peace." while the back cover's summary opens: "Teenage James Bond has left for the summer when he receives a package from beyond the grave." Like movie Spectre & M's message, this time he receives "the mysterious contents of his father's backpack".
Never looked at in great detail by anyone this author uncovers the mystery of the 1932 death of Bond's parents, Andrew & Monique in Chamonix which is usually a movie one-liner like "I lost my parents in a climbing accident." Here we discover what really happened to them as Young Bond encouraged by Aunt Charmian to delve into the contents of mentioned backpack which will reveal cryptic clues in order to "finish a mission his father began".
Along the way he is reunited with SIS agent Adam Elmhirst from an earlier adventure and together they try to understand the clues of Bond's father which bring back childhood memories together. The journey takes them to Moscow where Bond meets a former trainee ballerina Anya ( from Prologue ) who isn't too friendly when protecting her own father. After an incident at their home they are united in finding out the truth pursued by nasty henchmen called Karachan & Mimic, the latter named as he can mimic / impersonate any voice.
The final narrative centres around London's Royal Opera House and explosive action beneath in underground tunnels with an exciting climax to save King & country from the Russians. An old foe 'the Nemesis' reappears in disguise and attempts to kill off our hero.
Told over 302 pages & 33 chapters ( Chapter 7 is called 'On His Majesty's Secret Service' ) & priced at £7.99 this adventure has plenty of blood & guts & proves an interesting addition to the 'Young Bond' series.