FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE is almost universally regarded as Fleming's masterpiece novel, and is the first novel in this collection. The plot is fairly similar to the 1963 film. The biggest difference is that the organisation that Bond is pitted against is SMERSH, rather than SPECTRE as it was in the film. SMERSH try to lure bond into a trap, the bait being a Spektor cipher machine. (It was called Lektor in the movie) Bond main ally is the memorable Darko Kerim. The girl is a Russian cipher clerk named Tatiana, and the villain is Rosa Klebb, a repulsive woman who is described brilliantly by Fleming. This is a great taut, suspenseful novel right down to the final twist on the last page.
DR NO is second in the collection and is another great read. This was the first Fleming novel I ever read, and it was a very nice, easy read. The plot is fairly simple, and the characters move fluidly within it. Honey Ryder is the Bond girl this time out, and Quarrel (from Live And Let Die) returns. Many of the scenes are the same as those in the movie, although the villain's death is very different (And quite bizarre!!) Bond is attacked by a deadly centipede and a giant squid and comes out the other end in one piece as only 007 can do!
GOLDFINGER is arguably one of the most famous titles in the world thanks to the 1964 film, and it rounds off this trio of novels. The highlight is undoubtedly the game of golf with Goldfinger. I actually enjoyed the first half of the novel more than the second half. The whole gangster scenario was a little difficult to follow, and the whole ending is not as good IMO as the film version. Nonetheless it is a great novel, and deserves a place in any collection, as do all of Ian Fleming's works, which tend to be underrated.
Each of the three stories in this book differ significantly from the film versions; so even though you find yourself visualising the scenes you recognise, you are still confronted by surprises and twists in the plot.
Another major difference is the depth of character that Fleming gives to Bond, the girls and the villians - one possible criticism of the films are they are a bit "cartoonish".
Finally, although the books are set in a by-gone age of Cold War espionage, they capture that time perfectly with a refreshing "Britishness" which readers of my generation are not used to.
I highly recommend you try them out.
Only after all the pieces are in place, does Fleming finally pull away the curtain to reveal the object of all this attention, 007. This is a brilliant technique for heightening interest in a character and building suspense (Hitchcock was the master of it), and it sets the stage beautifully. We find Bond more or less indolent, having recently broken up with Tiffany Case (his girl from Diamonds Are Forever), and growing surly with inaction. The Soviet plot lures him to Istanbul, where he is met by another vivid character, Darko Karim, who is head of British intelligence in Turkey.Read more ›