A ridiculously good read from a first-time author, reeking of seemingly authentic detail, and gripping from page 1. The whole setup builds the tension nicely, and it just sticks there like a piece of meat in the throat that was just a bit too big to swallow… I find the tension dissipates a fair bit after Le Chiffre is gone and things disintegrate between Bond and Vesper. Terrific final, bitter line from Bond though.
Live and Let Die
Damn, this is a great thriller. Yes, it’s got some old fashion racism, but it’s more the patronising kind than the degrading kind, and Fleming draws out the character of Mr Big as probably the most intelligent Bond villain after Blofeld. Read it, and you’ll get a view on the African-American life from an Englishman from the last 1950s.
This is a terrific thriller, and the last 4 or 5 chapters are total pageturners to the end.
This is my favourite Bond novel, closely followed by the fantastic You Only Live Twice.
The third novel featuring James Bond has Bond working entirely in England, first helping M out in a private matter involving card cheating, where the cheat is the industrialist Hugo Drax. It then moves on to Bond being part of the security for a massive, important project masterminded by Drax, the building of an atomic-warhead rocket called Moonraker, built to protect England.
But not everything is what it seems, as the man has a staff of 50 German technicians (this is set maybe 7-8 years after WW2) and a proclivity to megalomania…
Really nice, direct thriller, with Bond suffering and trying in desperate circumstances to outwite this mad genius. Very low-key in places, but very enjoyable. Fleming is a great one for producing a page-turner when the narrative and story is simple and direct.
Diamonds are Forever
This is a relatively weak entry in the series. He still writes vividly and excitingly, and it’s cool that it’s partly set in Las Vegas, but it suffers from some weaknesses. It isn’t a great ending (it’s adequate), and Bond really misses some obvious clues near the end about men after him without him noticing them – Fleming wrote it in such a way it was blindingly obvious to the reader, but Bond somehow missed it, and he comes across as a bit dopey for missing obvious things. Still a pretty good read though.
From Russia With Love
Wow, this is a terrific read. Whilst it is mostly the same story as the movie, this book goes into details in a compelling, gripping way. We find out much more about how Red Grant became the chief executioner for SMERSH, for example, and get more backstory about the evilness of Rosa Klebb. Fleming write with a vividness, turn of phrase and seeming authenticity that makes this a real page-turner.
Whilst I still think Live and Let Die is my favourite of the books so far, this is the one that seems the best written. I can see why JFK rated it in his top ten books.
Fleming follows up his excellent From Russia With Love with this, a book that I think is his most exciting, straightforward, and intense book. This should be the book they show under the dictionary definition of ‘page-turner’. I can see why they chose this as the first movie. Simple plot and premise, but hell is Bond up against it in this one. It’s funny how they actual toned down some of the elements of this for the movie, because they were sadistic. For example, in the movie, Bond makes an escape and has to crawl through venting tubes and face heat, rushing water and dangerous drops. In the book, he’s being deliberately put through an assault course of pain and terror by Doctor No, for ‘scientific research’.
I really enjoyed this, I think it’s the darkest of Fleming’s books.