The first half of this book is as fine as any that Fleming wrote: Auric Goldfinger is the paradigm of the classic Bond villian; memorable, ingenious and with a soupçon of depravity. The cat-eating Oddjob, the blueprint for the many indestuctible sidekicks that the Bond movies seem to love, is unforgettable and fascinating. All the illustrious features of the film-version are present and correct, in fact: the gadget-filled Aston Martin; the razor-rimmed bowler hat; the testosterone-fuelled one-upmanship in the celebrated golf game; a gold-painted Jill Masterton; Pussy Galore. The plot-device that introduces Goldfinger, the game of two-handed Canasta, is a delight and the aforementioned game of golf is very much an extended version of the brilliant card-game scene from Moonraker, and very enjoyable for it.
Much is different from the film, of course, mainly the second half of the story, and this is where the book does actually suffer in comparison to the celluloid version. The book's plot features a much more prosaic (and strangely less believable)attempt to steal the gold from Fort Knox, rather than the ingenious idea to irradiate the bullion. Pussy Galore is a lesbian, and is subject to rather un-PC treatment by Fleming. In fact, this book is where Bond starts to become rather eyebrow-raisingly chauvinistic and occassionally racist (towards Koreans mainly).
One of the other reviewers on this site stated that there is a startling revelation towards the end of the book that Goldinger works for SMERSH; in actuality, this is strongly hinted at throughout the book, and it is Bond's suspicions regarding this matter that motivate many of his actions throughout the story.
So, to summarise, it could have been brilliant, but a slack and not vey plausible second-half lets the side down to the extent that all in all it's a bit of a mixed bag, but enjoyable nontheless.