The Spy Command notes that this novel “is based, in part, on an outline Ian Fleming wrote in the 1950s for a never-made television series. Horowitz’s story apparently is set in 1959.” That blog further quotes Horowitz, who is known for having created the popular British TV mystery series Foyle’s War and for penning last year’s historical thriller, Moriarty, as saying Trigger Mortis is set two weeks after Goldfinger (which was published in 1959, but set earlier) and that Pussy Galore is present. ‘I was so glad that I was allowed to set the book two weeks after my favorite Bond novel, Goldfinger, … and I’m delighted that Pussy Galore is back. It was great fun revisiting the most famous Bond Girl of all--although she is by no means the only dangerous lady in Trigger Mortis.”
Additional info about this novel comes from The Book Bond, which tells that “Horowitz places Bond in the middle of the Soviet-American Space Race as the United States prepares for a critical rocket launch. … As well as Pussy Galore, the book features: brand-new Bond Girl Jeopardy Lane; Jai Seung Sin, a sadistic, scheming Korean adversary hell-bent on vengeance; and breathless, globe-trotting adventure. Uniquely among latter-day Bond authors, Horowitz has included original Ian Fleming material: a treatment for ‘Murder on Wheels,’ an episode of a  television series that was never made. Fleming’s text sees Bond in the high-octane world of motor racing and it is his never-used plot that kicks off the action of Trigger Mortis.”
I’m particularly interested one of Horowitz’s passing comments: “It was always my intention to go back to the true Bond, which is to say, the Bond that Fleming created …” Does that mean his fair Pussy will be the lesbian former trapeze artist who featured in Fleming’s original novel, Goldfinger, said to be “the only woman who runs a gang in America,” or will she be the leader of a group of daring women aviators, as played by Honor Blackman in the 1964 Sean Connery film inspired by that book? We shall see.
Meanwhile, it’s been mentioned that Trigger Mortis is not a new book title. In fact, it was the name of pulp writer Frank Kane’s 1958 novel, his 12th to star New York City gumshoe Johnny Liddell. Publisher Prologue Books, which has made Kane’s Trigger Mortis available in e-book format, synopsizes that earlier work’s plot:
Johnny Liddell, private investigator, is not accustomed to a quiet life. But life was never less quiet for him than after he was called in by Celeste Pierce, a redhead who is giving several famous bosomy blondes a run for their money. Everything was going swimmingly for Celeste until she was blackmailed by Bare Facts, a magazine which had some bare facts about Celeste from her girl-in-the-pie period. She is willing to pay for pictures and films, and Johnny sets off to get them back. Unfortunately for Johnny’s peace of mind, impetuous Celeste goes off herself to see Murray Carter, the unattractive publisher of the unattractive periodical. Next day she is found dead in his apartment, and someone has obviously lent a helping hand since there is a bullet hole in the back of his skull. Johnny is given forty-eight hours and a free hand by the police to check on other blackmailers of Bare Facts. His search leads him everywhere from a Harlem dope joint to a boxers’ hangout, with trouble all the way. He finally solves the riddle, no thanks to anybody but himself.Kane’s yarn might have served equally well as the basis for a Bond adventure. There’s no shortage of willowy flesh in its pages, either.
(The cover shown above from Kane’s Trigger Mortis appeared on the 1959 Dell edition of that novel, with artwork by Victor Kalin.)
READ MORE: “Trigger Happy” (Pulp International).