Being Fleming’s first stab at the iconic James Bond, I was delighted to see the character’s beginnings. The first run in a long series of books paints Bond as practical, focused, clever, and most importantly, a mere mortal. I love how Mr. Fleming develops Bond through the story. You get to know him in ways that the movies never reveal (though I believe that Daniel Craig‘s portrayal is closest to the Bond in Casino Royale.)
With the lack of gadgets, just one girl (Vesper Lynd), a regular sports car (a Bentley – don’t let looks fool you, these cars set speed records in the 30’s) which ends up being our hero’s hobby, and smattering of a few normal handguns, this story still holds one’s attention. There were a few nice twists and a reasonable amount of suspense. The background stories of the villain’s weren’t too onerous and even when the expository on the mechanics of Baccarat came out, it added to the story. In fact, that part had me riveted for the climax during the card game.
While I’d class this as more of a novella, this was a good spy thriller. Not the best I’ve read, but good. And if you’re a Bond fan, it’s a must-read. After all, it tells you how he earned his double-O!
P.S. Despite my choice of photos, James Bond’s famous choice in pistols (the Walther PPK) never shows up in this book.