Bond is back - as a teenage agent

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There will be no vodka martinis and no Pussy Galore. James Bond is to reappear in a new adventure next year - as a teenager.

Penguin Books, the publisher of Ian Fleming's original Bond series, has commissioned two prequels on the nation's most celebrated spy. Written by the actor and novelist Charlie Higson, they will tell the story of a 13-year-old Bond and his escapades while a pupil at Eton.

Higson, 45, is best known as the co-creator of BBC2's The Fast Show, but has a number of adult thrillers and screenplays to his name. He described the chance to write about a teenage James Bond as "too good an opportunity to turn down". He said: "I've grown up with Bond, and while I've had to finally accept that I'll never play him in the films, writing about him is even more exciting."

Higson has already begun work on the first book, which is due for publication in March next year. Set in the 1930s, it will see the future 007 travel to a remote Scottish castle, where, according to Penguin, a wealthy American has been conducting "some very disturbing experiments".

The book will also describe the young Bond's struggle to come to terms with the premature death of his parents in a skiing accident - a tragedy often cited as the driving force behind his later evolution into Fleming's ruthless government assassin.

Penguin hopes that the prequels, published under its children's arm, Puffin Books, will capitalise on the success of series such as JK Rowling's Harry Potter - which saw an increase in boarding school applications - and Anthony Horowitz's tales of the boy spy Alex Rider, which have sold more than 1.1 million copies.

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