Kingsley Amis kicked it off with Colonel Sun in 1968. “It” is the craze for continuation novels and authors such as Agatha Christie, P G Wodehouse and Arthur Conan Doyle have all been victims of this literary mugging.
Sebastian Faulks pulls it off twice, masquerading as Ian Fleming and P G Wodehouse. William Boyd is also a goodish Ian Fleming. Anthony Horowitz is going for a double too. His Sherlock Holmes novel was too creepy but otherwise is passable. His new James Bond book, Trigger Mortis, is set in 1957. I have lost patience with it already. James Bond drives his Bentley Mark VI from London to Devizes “down the motorway”. It does get better but a slip like that is not easily forgotten.
Sir Kingsley’s Colonel Sun would be an inappropriate choice for President Xi Jinping’s bedside table at Buckingham Palace this week. The eponymous anti-hero, Colonel Sun Liang-tan of the People’s Liberation Army, tries to start a world war and blame Britain.
I went to the Mall to welcome President Xi. A protester stood behind me raising a Tibetan flag above my head. The flag and I could be seen by the cameras but I obscured him. Then a Chinese chap with a big Chinese flag waved it in front of us both and a London bobby pitched in saying, politely, that the gentleman must be allowed to show his flag. Which gentleman, which flag? A puff of wind then engulfed us all in the Chinese flag while the carriage procession trotted past. If it had been a Bond novel I would have been wrapped up in the flag, dumped in a ceremonial Tibetan drum and left to await interrogation by Colonel Sun.