ROULETTE: TEASER #3

ROULETTE cover

“Here’s to another successful collaboration, James. Hands across the sea.”

“Hands across the sea,” echoed Bond, and drank. “My, that’s crisp. Primitive, but I suppose we are in Red Indian land.”

Leiter chuckled. “Oh, the Canadians are fast catching up to us, friend. No doubt about it. Less than a hundred years old and already an agricultural and industrial capacity on a global scale. And that’s to say nothing of their advancements in aerospace.”

“M did brief me about the Arrow.” Bond drew the file folder cross the counter toward him and flipped to a photograph of the jet itself, looming white and magnificent above a tow-trailer outside a hanger in Malton, Ontario. “What’s the temperature in Washington about the thing?”

Leiter’s face assumed an expression of wonder. “It’s an incredible achievement, James. Outflies any other aircraft in existence. Attains a speed of Mach-2. A fifty thousand foot ceiling plus a weapons system that’s state-of-the-art. Well, you can imagine how excited some of the generals are. There’s already been discussions about buying them.”

“Britain’s already signed a secret contract,” replied Bond. “We’ll be taking delivery of our first batch next year. It’s factored into our NATO deployment in the next decade. Won’t be long until we’re around the corner into the Nineteen-Sixties, I’m afraid. No doubt Moscow will keep busy.”

“There’s opposition in Congress, particularly from states with an aeronautics industry. But there’s also enthusiasm for the possibilities in terms of NATO force integration. An umbrella of Arrow fighters over Europe would give us air dominance into the next century.” Leiter swirled his martini. “So what do you think’s the play, James? You figure Koniev will send his guy in to steal plans or sabotage the works?”

“That’s the grand-prize question, isn’t it?” Bond produced his cigarette case and lit up. “If I was Moscow, I would to delay production while trying to produce a prototype of my own to rival our capabilities. My money’s on some combination of theft and sabotage. Is CIA any closer to pin-pointing Koniev’s man?”

“We’ve got teams on the production facility at Malton, near Koniev and on some of Koniev’s guys. We’ll rumble him before long.”

“Good to hear. Now how about Quebec?” Bond took in the city outside with a sweep of the hand. “What kind of opposition presence are we facing here?”

“It’s hard to say.” Leiter was circumspect as he admitted this. “Canadian society is very open, James. It’s relatively easy for people to get in and out. Much more so than the USA. There’s a port here in Montreal, a busy one. RCMP doesn’t even have the personnel to monitor it properly so neither do we. Koniev could move his people in and out by foreign ships any time he wanted to or put them on any one of the hundreds of buses and trains that cross the border here everyday.”

“Your targeted surveillance plan is best then.” Bond patted the Beretta. “And as for us, we’ll just have to take our chances.”

Leiter toasted him. “Won’t be the first time.”

“Cheers.”

They finished their drinks and proceeded outside to the embassy Lincoln Leiter was borrowing for his stay. They passed through one of the base gates and turned onto the highway, angling toward the vast cluster of light and dark massifs that was Montreal. Bond marveled at the vastness and complexity of the industrial zone they passed through. Tall factories with glass walls, busy railroad shunt yards, skylines crowded with smoke-stacks hemmed in the view. The sheer space of the outworks alone was striking compared even to London, where vast industry was crowded into comparatively narrower geography.

“This city has grown enormously,” Bond mused.

“It has,” Leiter agreed, taking an exit and steering down into a darkened sector of the downtown core. “It’s like New York used to be right before the war. Before it exploded. A big town but still small enough to feel personal. The different areas are mostly different ethnicities. All still very distinct as compared to New York.”

“Where are we going?” asked Bond.

“I figured I’d start us out with some classic Dunn’s smoked meat. It’s a Montreal delicacy, not to be missed. Afterwards, I figured we’d take in a few clubs. There’s an active jazz scene up here. Quite experimental. But there’s enough crossover with the criminal world that I’m hoping we might get a look at some of the local radical talent. If nothing else, the criminal element should be in abundance.”

“They’re never too far from each other,” murmured Bond as Leiter turned a corner and steered onto a brightly-lit avenue.

“This is Saint Catherine’s Street,” Leiter explained. “Main conduit through downtown.” Bond’s eyes were dazzled by the neon. Colors flashed and back-lit shapes flickered and blurred and crawled around the huge lit words hanging out over the packed sidewalks: CAPITOL … LOEWS … STRAND. A lit theater marquee floated past, a little closer to the ground. Bond read the title aloud.

“Vertigo.” He chuckled. “Hitchcock again. Felix, we went into the wrong line of work. Imagine if we’d been movie stars.”

“James, we’re not the type.”

ROULETTE, a James Bond adventure by Jamie Mason. Coming November 2018.

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The Man Who Would Write Bond

ROULETTE coverI wanted to answer some of the questions I have been getting about Roulette, the James Bond novel I will be releasing in November.

In 2014 I placed a short story with David Nickle, who was then editing Licence Expired, an anthology project from ChiZine publishing. As it turned out, 2014 was the fiftieth anniversary of Ian Fleming‘s death. Under the current structure of Canadian copyright law, that places Fleming’s work in the public domain. ChiZine, seeing the need, catered to it ably. David and Madeline Ashby edited a very fine anthology of short fiction and Brett Savory and Sandra Kasturi published a handsome paperback, which is available in most major Canadian book retailers. The rest of the world may do things differently, but here in Canada one can use Fleming’s creation insofar as the book incarnation of 007 is concerned. But only the book version. Film, merchandising and comic book adaptations are handled under a different set of laws. But the clipped, cruel, sardonic, black-and-white Bond of pulp-fic fame is fair game. Which turned out to be very good news for me.

You see, I grew up reading the Bond novels. My father had a complete set of the Pan paperback originals and I started young. The movies were the international blockbusters of their day so of course I saw them. But I was surprised whenever I returned to the paperbacks to find that I actually preferred the literary Bond to his flashier onscreen persona. He has more in common with the hard-boiled protagonists of Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett. His world is drearier yet strangely more horrifying and dangerous. And Bond himself is more calculating and brutal. We get something of the sense of the man behind the Double-oh. And something about that always made the stakes higher for me.

Roulette is a novel-length Bond adventure in the Fleming mold. As I explained to David when I presented him with the manuscript of “Daedalus,” my offering in Licence Expired, I was deliberately trying to mimic Fleming’s style – the clunky “typewriter prose” of pre-internet journalism. The same is true of Roulette. In tone, style and theme it is intentionally similar to the early Bond novels, which I re-read closely before sitting down to write. My intention is to offer a work in homage to a past master for the enjoyment of all those who miss him. It is a caper, an entertainment, a light-hearted enjoyment. Above all, it is a labor of pure love.

A word regarding publication. I maintain a small micro-publishing enterprise called Storm Rhino Press which produces men’s adventure fiction in Kindle format. Those titles are subjected to a thorough publishing process in miniature, which employs professional editors, artists and IT personnel. Sadly, due to lack of funds, Storm Rhino must remain on the back burner for now (although it will return). All this to say that Roulette is not a Storm Rhino book. It is published by a shadowy entity that does business in cash only, prefers to hold meetings in back alleyways and punishes under-performing employees with death. I’m still not quite sure who’s behind SMERSH Books, but they assure me Roulette will be available only in Canada via Amazon this November.

This is an opportune time to mention that I am far from the only Canadian author to have availed himself of this unusual copyright windfall. In addition to the many fine writers who appear in Licence Expired, two others that I know of have produced Bond tales. Bond on the Rocks by Curtis Cook is a satirical take on a washed-up Bond forced to work in the private sector. Angel’s End by Ed Kurtz is a novelette set in Kennedy-era Texas. Both are now available through Amazon Canada.

The action in Roulette occurs in the original Bond timeline some time between Moonraker and Diamonds Are Forever. It is a Cold War spy thriller set in 1950s Canada. Further details will be forthcoming as we approach publication.