My name is Bond. James Bond.
In only 181 pages, Ian Fleming managed to create the most famous spy in history, 007, James Bond. This is the book that introduced James Bond to the world. And who can forget a spy as suave, sexy and cold-blooded as James Bond?
007’s mission this time is to eliminate the world player, Le Chiffre, a French Communist and the paymaster of the Soviet killing unit, SMERSH, on the glittering baccarat tables of the Royale-les-Eaux in France. Le Chiffre has been on the British Secret Service’s hit list for quite a few years and if Bond can bankrupt him, then SMERSH will drop him from their agenda. But what starts off as a simple card game in a casino escalates into a steamy love affair riddled with doubt, torture and betrayal. Bond falls in love with his female counter-part, Vesper Lynd and ends up dodging assassins, facing near-impotency and losing a lot more in the bargain.
This book is monumental as it establishes Bond for the first time and you see what really made Bond what he is today – cold-blooded, masculine, chauvinist, misogynist, and masochist. We see Bond struggle with the ethical questions his job presents. In short, we see Bond in the very beginning and understand him and his thought process. The supporting characters are crafted to perfection, like all other Bond books. Le Chiffre is your typical scary French villain whereas Vesper is everything Bond would want a woman to be. One can’t help but draw similarities between the characters’ personalities and the cigarettes they smoke: Felix Leiter only smokes Chesterfields, Bond smokes a Turkish/Balkan blend made by Morelands on Grosvenor Street, Le Chiffre smokes Caporals and Gauloises.
Of course, there is the very famous 2006 movie adaptation starring Daniel Craig that everyone would have seen. There isn’t any difference between the book and the movie in terms of story line but the book is a must-read for all 007 fans as it takes you into Bond’s psyche. It also explains why Craig, critically acclaimed as the best Bond of all time gets away with having that stoic expression at all times. Also, this book actually explains the game of baccarat for the benefit of the reader. You also read about Bond’s idiosyncrasies and trademarks, such as the drink called ‘The Vesper’ (“Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”), his good looks, his Bentley and his chain-smoking habits.
The book is fast-paced, taut and macho. You can’t help but read this in a rush because you cannot put it down. This book reeks of sharp, hot masculinity in the best way possible.
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