"Seeing double makes life twice as dangerous for James Bond-when an organized crime organization makes him believe he's going insane. It's a mad but brilliant plot that forces Agent 007 into the ultimate face-to-face confrontation...with himself."
-From the 2001 Mass Market Paperback Edition
Doubleshot is another excellent addition to the Bond canon as possibly one of Benson's strongest entries. For one thing, as with the last entry High Time to Kill, Doubleshot initially makes a departure from the traditional Bond formula. The book begins with our favorite agent operating at less than his full capacity. Benson's depiction of Bond is an absolute contrast with the agile, strong figure that he first described in the opening chapter of Zero Minus Ten.
Throughout the narrative, the author sprinkles his tale with echoing recalls from Ian Fleming's literary Bond and some elements of the Bond films. However, for the purists, this is the literary Bond and not his celluloid counterpart. Benson has received some criticism for making his novels "too much like a screenplay," however, I think that by carefully adding a few cinematic surroundings, he makes an easy introduction to the literary Bond for casual fans and those that are not fully aquatinted with Fleming's work.
As this is his fourth original novel, Benson has firmly set his own style. He is more comfortable with his story telling ability and his characterizations are more daring. This book contains very violent actions conducted by some of Benson's most ruthless creations. Domingo Espada and Margareta Piel are two of the most twisted and sadistic villains Bond has ever encountered. As with the Skin 17 plot element in High Time to Kill, the Bond doppleganger also works well in the story in spite of the fact that this plot device seems more like a Bond rip-off than genuine 007. I initially had my doubts about a double 007, however Benson makes it work and allows the reader to enjoy his story for the fantasy and escapism that Bond novels are.
Although some readers may not bother with such details, Benson pays attention to the technical aspects of his books while remaining faithful to the basic elements of Ian Fleming's world. One case in point is Bond's armament. Benson realistically balances Bond's use of the trusty Walther PPK with a more serious combat handgun, the Walther P99. By recognizing that Bond is a professional operator, he equips Bond with a professional's gear, all the way down to real world custom-made holsters for Bond's .40 caliber P99.
I hope other readers find the same enjoyment I found in this book. It is a fast paced and engaging story. With excellent characters, including Benson's best Bond girl(s) and an interesting plot, Raymond Benson assures us that, even in the 21st century, there's still plenty of "Sex, Sadism, and Snobbery" to go around.
Written by Jeff Morgan
Your third Bond adventure sees the return of The Union, following on from their entrance in High Time To Kill. Was it always your aim to continue the Union saga onto the very next story?
At first, no. About the time I was finishing High Time To Kill I realized that I liked The Union and the Le Gerant character and thought I could stretch them out into further novels. I discussed with Glidrose the idea of doing a trilogy and they said to go for it, as long as each book could stand on its own.
What gave you the idea to use the concept of a 'Bond double?'
It's an idea that's been done over and over in spy stories, superhero stories, adventure stories-- I simply wanted to try my hand at it. We'd never had a Bond double before and I considered it a challenge to try and do something original with it.
The original title for the book was Reflections in a Broken Glass. What other potential titles were floating around and how did the name Doubleshot become the final title?
The only title of mine was Never Dream of Dying. All the others had working titles that eventually became chapter titles. Picking the title was always done by committee: Glidrose, the British publisher, the American publisher, me and then the publishers' respective marketing departments had a say. It was always a nightmare. No Tears for Hong Kong was my title for Zero Minus Ten. Believe it or not, The World is Not Enough was my title for The Facts of Death. "A Better Way to Die was my title for High Time to Kill. Red Widow Dawn was my title for The Man with the Red Tattoo.
How did you approach writing the final appearance of Felix Leiter in a Bond novel and how do you think his character has developed since the Fleming era?
Final appearance? Not sure what you mean. I've always liked the character and tried to use him when I could. I put him in a wheelchair in The Facts of Death simply because I think his legs would have deteriorated to that extent since his injury in the Fleming books. He's still the same likable guy otherwise. I may have tried to put a little more "Texan" in him, since Fleming really didn't.
Interview with Raymond Benson conducted by
Adam Farrington-Williams and Greg Goodman.