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A Hard Man to Kill was the first and only James Bond short story in the Young Bond series, written by Charlie Higson in 2009. Its story is set between the books Hurricane Gold and By Royal Command and involves James Bond travelling back to London aboard the French ocean liner SS Colombie. It was first featured in the paperback reprint of Higson's 2008 novel By Royal Command and was subsequently included in the series companion book, Danger Society: The Young Bond Dossier.

Plot

The story begins in the spring of 1934 as a group of men led by Emil Lefebvre murder a Venezuelan customs officer. Some time later James Bond and his aunt Charmian conclude a Caribbean yacht cruise with the compliments of Jack Stone. They sail into Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe and depart for Plymouth aboard the SS Colombie - alongside a captured French war criminal named General Charles Caiboche. Onboard they play a competitive game of bridge against Lefebvre and James makes friends with one of the gendarme officers guarding Caiboche - a young man named René Mathis. James unexpectedly finds Wilder Lawless, a girl he had met a year prior in Scotland. She is now working with her father transporting horses across the Atlantic. They spend the following day with each other and he reluctantly goes with her to see her equine friends in the hold. Whilst there they witness Lefebvre and his men taking weapons from crates they had brought on-board in Venezuela. Investigating further they find the corpse of the customs officer at the bottom of a crate and attempt to sabotage the villains' plans by throwing their ammunition overboard.

The teenagers approach the ship's first officer for assistance, but are betrayed and taken to Lefebvre's suite. It is revealed that they are ex-Legion soldiers posing as a French gymnastics team - their goal is to liberate Caiboche during a performance and escape on-board another vessel. To protect Wilder, James reluctantly goes with Emil to show him where he hid the ammo; during which he stabs the villain through the foot and makes for the gendarme suite for help. He discovers that Caiboche has murdered his captors and, chased by the bulky man, James locks himself in the bathroom. Mathis is hiding inside and the pair attempt to make to warn the ship's captain. James climbs over the edge of the ship and enters the villains' suite via the smoking balcony. He rescues Wilder and, as they clamber up the side, a shootout breaks out between Mathis and the "gymnastics team". As the ship's crew intervene Caiboche deprives them of a chance to take him into custody and leaps off the balcony (seemingly to his death). As Bond sails onward toward home a submarine surfaces alongside Caiboche - proving him to be a hard man to kill.

Characters

Trivia

  • "A Hard Man to Kill" is the longest Bond short story yet written.

References

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