Strike Lightning
PublisherRed Fox
Date Published01 September 2016
Price£ 6.99

Strike Lightning

by Steve Cole

Young James Bond and his friend Perry Mandeville team up with the indomitable Kitty Drift to foil a plot that threatens the security of their country.


James Bond, has been thrown out of Eton, and is now at school at Fettes in Scotland with his old friend Perry Mandeville. James is thrown back under the spotlight in a very unwelcome way when one of his school friends, Marcus Stephenson, dies in mysterious circumstances that end up with James in the sickbay, injured and disorientated, having been unconscious for some while

The party line at the school is that Marcus died in a tragic accident, struck by lightning, but James believes Marcus was caught up in some sinister experiments being carried out in secret by one of the teachers. James resists attempts to pack him off home to recuperate and he tells his aunt Charmian that he’d rather stay at school.

James and Perry set out to decipher the meaning of Marcus’ cryptic words as he lay dying. Their quest sees them stealing cars, breaking into the grounds of a remote manor house, spying on their enemies and hitching a ride on a ship in a container bound for a secret base in Germany. They are convinced that they are on the trail of traitors who are helping Hitler re-arm his country for a future conflict, and are prepared to go to any lengths to stop the treason.

None of the Young Bond books have ever pussyfooted around the grim realities of life – and death – and Strike Lightning is no exception. Steve Cole’s writing is fast and fluid, providing a slick homage to the originals and showing us James’ progression into what he will ultimately become - the most iconic male thriller protagonist of all time. He’s tough, resourceful and deeply moral. But he’ll also do what’s necessary to get the job done.

The obligatory role of Bond girl is taken this time by the indomitable railway enthusiast Kitty Drift, a long-time friend of Perry’s who lives in Holland. The boys come across her by accident, but Kitty is determined to do her bit to help, and becomes a strong and capable member of the team. The scenes when Kitty and James are forced to face each other towards the end of the book in a macabre gladiatorial contest are particularly chilling, and are a reminder – if one is ever needed – that no one is James’ life is ever safe from harm.

Strike Lightning is a classic rollercoaster of a Bond book, with some excellent scenes aboard a stream train heading into the heart of enemy territory – after all, there’s few things more redolent of a vintage Bond book or movie than action scenes on the top of trains! There’s stacks of moral ambiguity throughout, despite the obligatory moustache-twirling villain, and yet again, James must come to terms with the fact that very little about his life will ever be black and white.

Reviewed 13 May 2017 by Linda Wilson