James Bond swaps Casino Royale for Cafe ­Royal

The book arriving in Edinburgh. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor
The book arriving in Edinburgh. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor
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IT All started 60 years ago in the glamorous surroundings of Casino Royale – and now super-suave spy James Bond has taken his latest adventure to the Capital’s own Cafe ­Royal.

Edinburgh is one of seven cities around the world chosen to take part in today’s launch of the latest James Bond book, following an event in The Dorchester Hotel in London.

Oysters being served at the Cafe Royal. Picture: Toby Williams

Oysters being served at the Cafe Royal. Picture: Toby Williams

After the success of Skyfall, partly filmed in the Highlands, and the long association with one of Edinburgh’s most ­famous sons, Sir Sean Connery, it is only fitting that the latest book also finds Bond returning to his Scottish roots.

Solo, which sees 007 out for revenge after being caught up in an African civil war, features the spy paying a visit the Capital, where he tucks into champagne and oysters, smoked salmon and scrambled egg “in an oyster bar off Princes Street”.

It doesn’t take MI5 to work out that the bar in question is the Cafe Royal, founded in the city in 1826. Manager Gordon Spowage said they were delighted with the association.

“We’ve had our fair share of celebrities and famous faces here at The Cafe Royal, but to have 007 stop by makes us very proud indeed,” he said. “Nice of him to spend his Casino Royale winnings in the Cafe Royal. We’re looking forward to seeing some diehard fans coming in to emulate their idol.”

The new book is the third in a revival which has seen best-selling writers Sebastian Faulks, author of Birdsong, and US crime writer Jeffrey Deaver take the reigns of the series begun 60 years ago with the publication of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale.

The latest author to get inside the mind of 007 is William Boyd, best known for the Whitbread Award and the Somerset Maugham Prize-winning A Good Man in ­Africa.

Boyd, who has been a fan of the books since childhood, said: “When Ian Fleming Publications invited me to write the new James Bond novel I didn’t hesitate. For me the prospect appeared incredibly exciting – a once-in-a-lifetime challenge.”

Another life-long fan is Alex McGowan, executive director of the Lyceum Theatre, who saw his first Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me, at the tender age of seven.

The Edinburgh launch of Solo has allowed Mr ­McGowan to act out his own spy fantasy, being summoned to Edinburgh Airport to pick up one of only seven advance signed copies. Security is so tight that the book was handed to him by the pilot, after travelling up from London.

“I did feel a bit like a secret agent hanging around at the terminal, waiting for a package that must not fall into the wrong hands,” he said. “I was hoping it would be in a briefcase they would handcuff to my wrist, but unfortunately the handover was slightly less dramatic.”

The signed copy will be given away to an audience member following a discussion of the book with the author at The Lyceum Theatre on Monday.

Solo goes on sale tomorrow.