James Bond is back — this time not as a slick spy armed with hi-tech gadgetry, but “unarmed in a smart suit and soft shoes”.
The latest James Bond novel, published to mark 007 creator Ian Fleming’s 100th birthday, went on sale on Wednesday, almost 40 years after the British spy’s last adventure.
Scores of Bond fans waited in line outside the Waterstone’s bookstore in Piccadilly in central London from Tuesday night, where 200 signed and numbered luxury editions of Devil May Care went on sale for £100 (Rs 8,000) each.
The suave British super-spy’s 15th adventure in print was written in Fleming’s sparse style by novelist Sebastian Faulks, who is famous for his wartime trilogy Birdsong, The Girl at the Lion D’Or and Charlotte Gray.
Steve Norris, a 39-year-old housing manager, came at 4 pm on Tuesday and was first in line. He said he had to be there because he had been a Bond fan “ever since I could remember”. He received a round of applause from others in the queue after buying copy number seven (007) as the theme tunes from the Bond film franchise filled the store.
Jo James, Waterstone’s events and local marketing manager, said: “We were expecting people to arrive early but we weren’t expecting them to arrive overnight.”
Internet bookstore amazon.co.uk said the book has already shot to the top of its chart and was its biggest fiction pre-order this year.
The first handful of copies went from the printers under military escort down the River Thames to Waterstone’s on Tuesday, under the watchful eye of the Royal Navy, helicopters and Tuuli Shipster, the model on the jacket cover. Faulks and members of the Fleming family received the books on board the warship HMS Exeter.
Faulks said it was a “pleasure to be aboard the ship Bond sailed on”. Bond served as an intelligence officer on the HMS Exeter, finally holding the rank of commander. The final stage of the journey saw the books taken to Piccadilly in a fleet of Bentleys.
Details of the plot have been kept a closely-guarded secret but Faulks revealed the action takes place at the height of the Cold War in 1967 and takes Bond to Paris, Rome and the Middle East.