Tribute to ‘Trigger Mortis’ by Gerry Wadsworth

With the kind of work rate that Anthony Horowitz would be proud of, we are proud to publish an exclusive look at Gerry Wadsworth latest James Bond inspired piece – Trigger Mortis!

First, let me state unequivocably, that I loved Trigger Mortis. In fact, I couldn’t put it down and read it in one go. Not to gush over Horowitz’s story, I actually approached it with the fear and trepidation that all Bond afficionado’s do when encountering a new non-Fleming story. Will the character ring true? Will the story try too hard to overwhelm you with detail that must be included, but requires finesse and restraint that a writer new to the oeuvre might lack? Where in the Bond timeline will the story be placed? There’s so much that Fleming brought to the character, that to do a story justice, the phrasing and verbal jousting must be well crafted and extremely well thought out.

Horowitz had not only the right touch to his James Bond, he also had some of Fleming’s actual dialogue and writing to give the story an authenticity and matchless quality that evades most Bond sequel writers. The stars shone brightly on Trigger Mortis!

“Speaking of Death, it’s Time to Discuss Yours, Mr. Bond” …in which Bond is tasked to race a Maserati 250F at the Nürburgring - “a long, green scream” - and prevent the crash and death of Britain’s famous racer, Lancy Smith, staged by agents of SMERSH and Russian driver, Ivan Dimitrov. Success, and luck, is with Bond…he forces Ivan and his black Krassny off the track and into the trees. Captured aprés race by the evil Korean, Jason Sin, Bond is forced to choose from a deck of Hanafuda cards that will reveal his manner of death. Using the “single-handed annulment” devised by card master John Scarne, Bond cheats and draws a blank card. In a rage, Sin chooses for Bond. “Buried Alive” is the death Bond faces…will he die, or will he live to prevent Jason Sin’s nefarious plan from taking place in New York.

“Speaking of Death, it’s Time to Discuss Yours, Mr. Bond” …in which Bond is tasked to race a Maserati 250F at the Nürburgring – “a long, green scream” – and prevent the crash and death of Britain’s famous racer, Lancy Smith, staged by agents of SMERSH and Russian driver, Ivan Dimitrov. Success, and luck, is with Bond…he forces Ivan and his black Krassny off the track and into the trees. Captured aprés race by the evil Korean, Jason Sin, Bond is forced to choose from a deck of Hanafuda cards that will reveal his manner of death. Using the “single-handed annulment” devised by card master John Scarne, Bond cheats and draws a blank card. In a rage, Sin chooses for Bond. “Buried Alive” is the death Bond faces…will he die, or will he live to prevent Jason Sin’s nefarious plan from taking place in New York.

A Few Turns of Phrase…

There were, for me, some real standouts. Calling the Nürburgring track “the long green scream” was brilliant. I could almost visualize from the description of the battle between Bond and Dimitrov, the winding course lined with trees, every twist and turn blocked from view, with the cars, screaming down the long green track at high-speed. To bring this phrase to visual life, I first thought of a long horizontal landscape of the Ring with the three cars jousting for position. Details all a blur with streaks of color trailing behind the cars and through the scenery. But I pressed on, regardless…

When Bond first meets Logan Fairfax, she had just completed running a Maserati 250F on a perimeter track to the Ring with a “lightness of touch” that only a woman driver could achieve. She barely touched the apex of the corners…”as if she was flicking the ash off the shoulder of a man’s coat.” Wonderful stuff! The casual gesture was perfect.

Ash

But the copy that grabbed me viscerally was “She smelled of sweat and high-octane fuel.” There was just something about the phrase that resonated with me. It was either the women drivers I have known or all the sports cars that I’ve owned…but to “smell of sweat and high-octane fuel.” Man, it was a killer line! I even had a local model in mind for Logan, but alas, no Maserati 250F to put her into. So scrap that idea…

Later on when Bond makes his way through Jason Sin’s castle, he finds squalor galore. Horowitz punningly has Bond muse, “curiouser and curiouser,” mentions white rabbits and a Mad Hatter – all deftly referenced with a tweaking of Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass” and “Alice in Wonderland.” Wonder indeed we all did over Sin’s desecrated home!

Hanafuda Cards…

Horowitz has so many clever verbal and visual references that I was agonizing over what to paint. Then it hit me. Bond is offered the chance to choose his own death by selecting one of the Hanafuda cards that Sin spread out on the table (flame mahogany). Bond cheats and draws the blank card that would have set him and Jeopardy Lane free. But Sin, realizing that he has been conned, picks Bond’s card for him: Buried Alive. The cards are described, so I used those examples on my cards. Horowitz describes the Japanese treatment of the cards, so I found some examples of them and modified them to my liking. Bond carried a Remington 1911, .45 cal. pistol to fight off assailants at the motel – so I used one as well.

Hanafuda

When Bond is hustled off to be buried alive, Jeopardy hugs him and slips into his belt one of the knives with the “indecently heavy Bakelite handle” from the dinner table – so that was added. The rope was for hanging and strangulation. The straight razor for suicide in general. The match-book with only two matches and Bond’s Chesterfield cigarette burning in the ashtray joined the mix. I added in a typical Korean porcelain dish to rest the knife on, and the three bullets finished off (pun intended) the painting.

The end result is an ironic juxtaposition of the violent mechanisms of death as proposed by Jason Sin – and the subtle and more ephemeral Japanese motifs of seasonal flowers and birds on the cards whose words offer up the choice of how one will die.

And last but not least – the fly…a tip of the hat with thanks to Richard Chopping!

Incidental Intelligence

View more of Gerry’s art

Visit Gerry’s website

View all articles on Trigger Mortis

Advertisements

Comments?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s