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Literature / Trigger Mortis

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A James Bond novel published in 2015, and written by Anthony Horowitz. It contains small amounts of material originally written by Ian Fleming, from a series of short pitches for a potential TV series that never was. The original pitch was titled "Murder on Wheels", which becomes a chapter title in the novel.

It's 1957, The Space Race is heating up, and James Bond and Pussy Galore are living together in Bond's flat... and it's starting to grate. So Bond jumps at the chance to take a mission involving one of his favourite pastimes: motor-racing. But a Soviet plot to kill a racing driver leads Bond to discover something far bigger, which puts the future of the U.S. space program at risk.


  • Action Girl: Jeopardy Lane is notably not this early on, being a Treasury agent way out of her depth. Once she gets on a motorcycle, though, her past as a Globe of Death motorcyclist comes in handy.
  • Big Bad: Jason Sin, aka Sin Jai-Seong, a Korean businessman with a grudge against... everyone, really.
  • Buried Alive: For the traditional Fleming-esque torture scene, Bond is buried alive. Needless to say, he escapes.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Jeopardy Lane's past as a fairground Globe of Death driver turns out to be useful later.
  • Continuity Nod: Besides ones to Goldfinger, to which this is an Immediate Sequel, Bond notes he lost his taste for watching missile launches after he was entirely too close to one.
  • Cool Bike: A 650CC Triumph Thunderbird, which Jeopardy Lane and Bond use to chase Sin's subway train bomb.
  • Cool Car: Bond drives a Maserati 250f, one of the most beautiful racing cars ever built, around the Nürburgring. The book also features the (retroactive) first appearance of his new personal car, a Bentley Mk VI.
  • Cool Train: Horowitz spends a little time talking about how gorgeous the post-war R11 subway cars were.
  • Cutlery Escape Aid: Jeopardy Lane manages to steal a knife during a dinner provided by Jason Sin, and Bond later uses it help himself to dig out from being buried alive.
  • Evil Plan: Jason Sin (under direction from SMERSH) plans to sabotage the test flight of the Vanguard rocket, which seems at first to Bond to be overly simplistic - rockets blow up all the time, after all. The real trick is to blow up the Empire State Building along with a replica of the Vanguard missile. A few judiciously placed "witnesses" will mean it'll appear the debris from the aborted Vanguard launch landed in Manhattan, destroying the iconic building and killing thousands. Even if they find the real wreckage in the Atlantic eventually, the enquiry and public backlash will have set back the US ten years in the Space Race.
  • Expy: In Fleming's original plot sketch, Lancy Smith was Stirling Moss. Horowitz made him an Expy because the real Moss was still alive when the book was released, so he obviously wasn't killed by Russian assassins in 1957.
  • Fix Fic: To Goldfinger. In particular, to the plot point of Bond "converting" Pussy Galore to heterosexuality. Here, while she is genuinely attracted to Bond, she is still very much attracted to women as well, and ends up paired with Logan Fairfax, Bond's other first act love interest, when Bond leaves for the Nürburgring. This has the added benefit of sparing both women the all too common fate of those who don't end up paired with Bond at the end of their stories.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Jason Sin's bottle-lens glasses hide eyes that are absolutely dead.
  • Freudian Excuse: When Sin was a child, he saw his entire family killed in the No Gun Ri Massacre by American troops. Though rather than making him hate Americans specifically, it turned him into a pathological misanthrope.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: SMERSH are paying Sin to sabotage the rocket flight. But beyond that, he genuinely doesn't care about them or their politics in the least.
  • Hot Sub-on-Sub Action: Bond keeps calm while he's being buried alive by remembering being on board HMS Trespasser during the real-life incident when the Captain thought it was a case of this... but he actually torpedoed a dead whale. The incident was earlier/later referred to in Thunderball, where Bond mentioned his wartime experience as supercargo on a submarine.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: With a touch of Fix Fic for the Values Dissonance in Goldfinger,note  Pussy Galore decides that she's had fun with James, and has no regrets, but from now on she'll stick to women.
  • Just Following Orders: The young man driving the digger that dug Bond's grave. He explains that he's an ex-con who took the only job he could to support his family, and now he can't leave or they'll kill him. Bond, still going through the crisis of conscience he was in at the start of Goldfinger, agonises over whether to kill him or risk him giving away Bond's escape. He knocks him out, but only at the very last second. He decides that's the difference between him and his enemies - he's capable of mercy even at possible risk to himself.
  • Lack of Empathy: An utterly complete lack of empathy is Sin's scariest characteristic.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: It's the trope-naming series, and Jason Sin does an absolutely textbook example. He puts on (an apparently mediocre) dinner for Bond and Jeopardy, including a badly-made martini. He then shares the details of his plan because he plans to kill them both. Bond bluntly tells him to shove it. And Jeopardy pockets a Cutlery Escape Aid at the end.
  • Pair the Suitors: For a certain definition of "suitor". Pussy Galore and James Bond begin the novel as an official couple, but it's clear the relationship is close to having run its course. Meanwhile, Logan Fairfax and Bond clearly share a mutual attraction, but there is also an enormous amount of hesitancy and most of it on Logan's part to see the relationship progress beyond teacher/student and the occasional dinner together. In any event, the two women ultimately end up together.
  • Racing the Train: Bond and Lane follow Sin's train from Coney Island to Manhattan by motorcycle.
  • Red Right Hand: An unusually psychological example for a Bond novel Sin is described as "passably good-looking" rather than a Fleming-esque grotesque. But he wears extremely strong-prescription glasses, and behind them, his eyes are described as absolutely dead and expressionless.
  • Sequel Episode: The novel takes place a few weeks after Goldfinger, and for a change, actually shows the end of James' relationship with the Girl of the Week.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: A big part of why Pussy leaves Bond. The novel shows for the first time something Fleming only ever mentioned happening in the background the end of Bond's relationship with the Girl of the Week. Bond and Pussy are starting to grow irritated at each other, as he prefers his solitude at home, and she has unfinished business with her criminal gang in the States. Eventually, Pussy leaves, but they part (with her insistence) on good terms with no regrets.
  • Take Me Out at the Ball Game: Bond is initially tasked with preventing the murder of Formula 1 driver Lancy Smith during a race at the Nürburgring.
  • Textual Celebrity Resemblance: Jeopardy Lane is described as looking like Jean Seberg.
  • Title Drop: The titular "trigger mortis" is an in-universe Punny Name for the self-destruct switch on the Vanguard rocket.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Bond gets confronted with this hard when he meets the guy who drove the digger that buried him alive earlier. The guy practically a kid insists he's trapped in the job because they'd kill him if he left and pleads for his life. Unfortunately, Bond can't afford to let him live. A few pages later it turns out he changed his mind at the last moment.
  • Wrench Wench: Logan Fairfax, daughter of a Grand Prix racer and expert driver herself. She ends up with Pussy Galore rather than James Bond!