Kim Sherwood wouldn’t make a very good spy. While working on Double or Nothing – the first in a new trilogy of thrillers the 33-year-old novelist is writing under the watchful eye of James Bond creator Ian Fleming’s estate – she was sent to test drive the Alpine A110 S. It’s a suitably luxurious sports car of the type Bond tends to prefer; the only hitch was that Sherwood doesn’t have a licence to drive, never mind a licence to kill. She was also under strict instructions not to reveal to Alpine employees why she was there.
Weaving through the cobbled streets of Edinburgh, the racing-car driver behind the wheel wondered aloud why Sherwood was scribbling down so many notes. “I told him I was writing a book about cars,” she remembers, speaking on a video call from her home in Bath. “It seemed like the easiest thing to say, but then he turned to me and said: ‘But you can’t drive?’” She laughs. Busted. “That’s true,” she stammered back. “It’s a very limited book.”
While Sherwood might not be the writer you’d want working on an encyclopaedia of automobiles, she was exactly who the Fleming family were looking for to solve their modern-day quandary: how does Bond fit into the world in 2022? After last year’s No Time to Die gave the Daniel Craig era of films a resoundingly final chapter, rumours have abounded about what the future might hold for the much-loved character. Would producers change 007’s ethnicity or gender? Maybe not. The latest gossip out of Pinewood suggests that the next onscreen Bond will simply be “younger and taller” than Craig’s version.
In Double or Nothing, Sherwood presents her own novel solution to the Bond question: get rid of him. At the outset of the book, 007 is missing, presumed kidnapped by a nefarious private military company known as Rattenfänger. In the aftermath of Bond’s disappearance, we follow his 00 colleagues at MI6 as they scour the globe.