Anthony Horowitz is writing new James Bond novel from Ian Fleming idea

Murder on Wheels, the first novel to be adapted from an original Ian Fleming treatment since his death, may see Bond foil Russian plans to scupper a Formula One race in the 50s

“Bond liked fast cars and he liked driving them,” Ian Fleming, a man similarly inclined, wrote in 1954’s Live and Let Die.

Now, 60 years on, an unpublished story by the late author in which James Bond takes on the Russians and gets involved in a Formula One race, is to form the basis for a new 007 novel by Anthony Horowitz.

Murder on Wheels was written by Fleming in the 50s, as one of several episode treatments for a Bond TV series which fell through because the films took over. Many of the plots were turned into short stories including Octopussy, The Living Daylights and For Your Eyes Only, but a few outlines were never published, says Fleming’s great-niece Jessie Grimond.

Now, 50 years since the author’s death, the Fleming estate has shown the material to Horowitz as the basis for a new novel.

Horowitz, the screenwriter of series including Midsomer Murders and Foyle’s War as well as the author of the hit teenage spy series Alex Rider and authorised takes on Sherlock Holmes, is the latest in a line of writers to don the mantle of Fleming with the estate’s blessing. Predecessors include Sebastian Faulks, Jeffery Deaver and William Boyd, whose novels have variously seen Bond take on a heroin influx into Britain in the 60s, leap through time to the present day, and try to “single-handedly stop a civil war” in a small west African nation.

Horowitz, however, is the first writer to have been given unpublished material to work with. “Given that Anthony is as brilliant a screenwriter as he is a novelist, we thought it would be exciting to see what he would do with one [of the episodes],” said Grimond.

Horowitz plumped for a treatment called Murder on Wheels, which sees Bond on a mission at the Nürburgring racing circuit in Germany.

“It’s such a good idea. Ian loved cars and driving – he was friends with Stirling Moss, the Lewis Hamilton of the time,” said Fleming’s niece, Lucy Fleming.

“Bond’s mission is to make sure a Russian plot to scupper Moss’s race by forcing him to crash is intercepted … there’s a fantastic race Bond gets involved in.”

Bond is well known for his love of cars. In Casino Royale, Fleming wrote: “Bond’s car was his only personal hobby. One of the last of the 4½-litre Bentleys with the supercharger by Amherst Villiers, he had bought it almost new in 1933 and had kept it in careful storage throughout the war … Bond drove it hard and well and with an almost sensual pleasure.”

Fleming’s work will serve as the “starting point” for Horowitz’s novel, said the Fleming estate, with the book – currently known as Project One – to include the characters M and Miss Moneypenny and be set in the 50s.

It will be published next September by Orion in the UK and HarperCollins in the US.

“It’s no secret that Ian Fleming’s extraordinary character has had a profound influence on my life, so when the estate approached me to write a new James Bond novel how could I possibly refuse?” said Horowitz, a lifelong Bond fan. “It’s a huge challenge – more difficult even than Sherlock Holmes in some ways – but having original, unpublished material by Fleming has been an inspiration. This is a book I had to write.”

Malcolm Edwards, group publisher at Orion, described Bond and Horowitz as “a match made in publishing heaven”.

He added: “Anthony is a writer of exceptional skill and I have no doubt he will deliver a book that will resonate and delight Bond fans around the globe.”

According to the Fleming estate, more than 100 million Bond books have been sold worldwide. Fleming himself wrote 14 Bond books – his last 007 title, Octopussy and The Living Daylights, was published in 1966.

As well as Faulks, Deaver and Boyd, authors including Kingsley Amis and John Gardner have also written official Bond novels.

The authorised Bond title will be the latest in a series of fresh takes on much-loved characters, from Sophie Hannah’s riff on Poirot, The Monogram Murders, to Horowitz’s Sherlock Holmes novel, House of Silk.


Alison Flood

The GuardianTramp

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