"A microdot containing the most important military secret of the century has been stolen. A lethal crime syndicate known as the Union has claimed responsibility. But when the Union's airborne courier crashes on Kangchenjunga, one of the world's highest and most treacherous mountains, 007 and an expert team of international climbers begin the perilous ascent of the Himalayan peak to retrieve it. With a sniper in their midst...with the brutal forces of nature against them...James Bond and his men begin a dizzying, cliff-hanging journey along the icy slopes of a frozen hell..."
-From the 2000 Joves Books Paperback Edition
Raymond Benson returns for the first in three novels dealing with the crime syndicate "The Union". After years of single madman/madwomen villains, it is nice to see a return to a SPECTRE type organization. However, on that same note, it seems a bit cliched and tired; it is almost like Benson couldn't come up with any new ideas so he went back to the tried-and-true. With that aside, "High Time To Kill" is a fast paced adventure that sends Bond all over the world attempting to find a stolen military secret (it's called Skin 17) that can change the balance of power for the Royal Air Force.
The novel goes a long way in regards to character development, especially describing Bond's relationship with each one. Perhaps the most impressive example of this is 007's friendship with Sgt. Chandra Gurung. However, on the opposite end, Bond's romantic involvement with his personal secretary, Helena Marksbury, seems forced and fake. Perhaps it is due to all of the years of Bond not doing anything with Moneypenny on screen, but I just never bought into the whole situation.
High Time To Kill is, just as Benson's other entries to the Bond literature world, an action movie through and through; it just happens to be bound between two covers. Perhaps my biggest gripe with the book is the entire ending sequence where Bond and company try to climb the Kangchenjunga Mountain. The sequence took almost one hundred pages to complete and with some notable exceptions (namely the ending), it did not keep my interest. Still, I am looking forward to reading "Doubleshot" to see Bond do battle with The Union once again. Hopefully he will come face to face with Le Gerant, much as he did with Ernst Stavro Blofeld so many years ago.
The Union trademark is the slit of the throat from
ear-to-ear. Where did you come up with the concept? Did you think it was
important that your organization had a trademark that was memorable to the
Not really. It was just something I came up with. Very mafia-like. Nothing too spectacular.
High Time To Kill contains a character named Paul Baack, who is named after a regular poster on the James Bond newsgroup. Does the book contain any other characters that take the name of friends
All the books did. There's a lengthy interview I did for CommanderBond.net in which I list all the "real" people who appear in all of my books. I suggest that your readers find those series of interviews and look there. I can say that in High Time to Kill there was Steven Harding, Roland Marquis, Randall Rice, and maybe others that were named after real people.
As well as being a fantastic adventure, High Time to Kill seems very thorough and well researched, as evidenced by the page of acknowledgements.
How did you go about doing your research for the novel?
Well, I didn't climb any mountains! I read a lot about climbing, watched videos and documentaries; but most importantly I came in contact with the guy who actually was the first American to scale Kangchenjunga via the north face. He helped me a lot, provided his own maps and experiences, which I incorporated into a lot of the story.
Can you tell us where the concept Skin 17 originated?
Right in my head. I consulted an aviation engineer at a well-known aeronautics firm to help me get the mumbo jumbo right.
John Cox once described High Time to Kill as "James Bond meets
Cliffhanger." What was your inspiration to send Bond on a snow mission?
Simply because it hadn't been done. Bond was supposed to have been a mountain climber but we never saw evidence of that in the books. After reading the book Into Thin Air I got the idea of doing a Bond adventure in the Himalayas.
Interview with Raymond Benson conducted by
Adam Farrington-Williams; edited by Greg Goodman.
High Time to Kill
Published: May, 1999
Author: Raymond Benson
Villain: Roland Marquis;
Organization: The Union
Bond Girl: Hope Kendall;
Allies: Chandra Gurung
Raymond Benson's Thoughts
Blast From The Past
Zero Minus Ten
Tomorrow Never Dies
The Facts of Death
High Time To Kill
The World Is Not Enough
Never Dream of Dying
The Man With The Red
Die Another Day
Raymond Benson Biography