Dads - indeed grandads - will be catered for in many a household this Christmas with a welcome present of William Boyd's recently published Bond novel, Solo.
The best-selling author has read and reread every Bond novel, although he is not the first writer to resurrect the smooth hero of Ian Fleming's oeuvre.
Kingsley Amis, Sebastian Faulks and Jeffery Deaver have also written Bond novels, extending the franchise as it were, following on the 14 Bond novels written by Fleming, who died in 1964.
Solo's late September launch took place at London's Dorchester Hotel, partly because Boyd's Bond celebrates his 45th birthday in the hotel.
The suave sleuth has dinner alone in the novel. The lavish repast consists of pan-fried Scottish scallops with a beure blanc sauce accompanied by a bottle of Taittinger Rose 1960 followed by fillet of beef, rare, with pommes dauphinoise and a bottle of Château Batailley 1959. Across the room, he spots a beautiful woman, always a mixed blessing, an irresistible pitfall, in Bond territory.
Soon he finds himself in the west African nation of Zanzarim, trying to stop a civil war, and in Washington he discovers a web of geopolitical intrigue (what's new).
Boyd has revealed that he had been given "no instructions, no remit" by the Fleming estate or the publisher. He has included some personal touches in the novel, including his methods for the perfect vinaigrette and the perfect vodka martini. The author experienced some of the hard-drinking milieu that Bond inhabits, during his African childhood.
"My father, who was a doctor for heaven's sake, would come home from his clinic and have two very large pink gins before lunch … and then drink whisky in the evenings." As reported some time back in these pages, Boyd would like to see Daniel Day Lewis play his Bond, although he believes a film will be unlikely. Recent Bond films are ultra-contemporary in setting, his yarn is set in 1969.