Chill the vodka and dust off the martini glass. James Bond is back.
A new novel featuring the world's most famous secret agent is set to be published next year, the family company of Bond creator Ian Fleming said Friday.
The as-yet untitled book carries the top-secret code name "Project X," and will be written by American novelist Jeffery Deaver, best known for his series of thrillers featuring forensic genius Lincoln Rhyme.
It's scheduled to be published May 28, 2011 — which would have been Fleming's 103rd birthday. It comes nearly 60 years after the publication of "Casino Royale," the first novel to feature 007.
Deaver said Fleming's work was important to him, "both literarily and personally."
"They appealed to me as wonderful stories but they also stood as singular examples of a thriller writer's craft," he said in a news release. "I learned, through osmosis as well as design, much technique from Mr. Fleming's work: compactness, attention to detail, heroic though flawed characters, fast-pacing, concrete imagery and straightforward prose."
In 2008, British novelist Sebastian Faulks wrote a Bond novel to mark the centenary of Fleming's birth. That book, called "Devil May Care," was released around the world and landed on best-seller lists. "Devil May Care" was set in 1967, and featured some of the trademarks expected in a Bond story: a glamorous woman with an improbable name, Scarlett Papava, and a menacing villain who had a monkey's paw for a hand.
Deaver, who lives in North Carolina, has sold more than 20 million copies of novels worldwide. "The Bone Collector," was made into a film in 1999, with Denzel Washington playing Rhyme and Angelina Jolie his trusted sidekick. A new Rhyme novel is due out in June in the United States and July in Britain.
Another novel, "Garden of Beasts," won the prestigious Crime Writers' Association Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award, given for the best adventure or thriller novel written in Bond-like style.
Ian Fleming Publications Ltd. managing director Corinne Turner thought then that "James Bond could have an interesting adventure in Jeffery Deaver's hands."
His Bond book, to be set in the present day, will be published by Hodder & Stoughton in Britain and Simon & Schuster in the United States. More than 100 million James Bond books have been sold around the world.
In April, it was announced that work on the next Bond movie — known only as "Bond 23" — had been stopped indefinitely because of uncertainty about the future of distributor Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. The film was due to be released in 2011 or 2012.
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