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VINE VOICEon 21 September 2013
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Tom Hiddleston adds his great voice to this unabridged reading of four short James Bond stories.

Octopussy, The Living Daylights and The Property of a Lady are read with the same cool and deep voice that makes this 4 CD set worth more than simply the words it conveys. There is also an interview with Hiddleston, which is not because of his excellent character portrayals in Spielberg's War Horse and Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris but rather his dark and sexy bad-boy character Loki in Thor and Avengers Assemble.

The last of the four stories is read by Lucy Fleming, better known to a generation as Jenny from Survivors. She as one of Fleming's two nieces, controls the estate and also delivers an excellent reading of her uncles work.

Hiddleston reads Flemings words like a long cold drink on a hot and humid night - his voice is full of the scent of 007, and enhances the sense of drama by just being the other side of the microphone!

Maybe we have a reading by Daniel Craig's successor here?

This set will cheer you through a few commutes, extend your adventure into modern literature and introduce you to the real James Bond and stories that inspired the movies.

This is an excellent buy, you will not be disappointed, buy it!
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*Contains some plot spoilers*

First published in a single collection in 1966, 2 years after Ian Fleming's passing, this is the final print outing for superspy James Bond from the pen of his originator. It is a collection of four short stories, Octopussy, Property Of A Lady, The Living Daylights and 007 In New York. As with his previous short story collection, Fleming uses this as an opportunity to do something a bit different with his writing, and to get away from the traditional Bond milieu.

Being in the short story format, Fleming has to restrain himself from the over long descriptions that sometimes bogged the later Bond novels down slightly, making these short sharp and punchy pieces, but still beautifully observed. Story by story:

Octopussy - This is a great opening story. We see the story through the eyes of Major Dexter Smythe, an ex army officer who served with intelligence during the war and is now living in a comfortable retirement in Jamaica. A visit from an enigmatic man named Bond shatters his world, as the secret of his wealth is revealed and he must decide on his own future. This is a classic piece of writing from Fleming. The character of Smythe is particularly well realised (apart from the dodgy wartime dealing and the murder, I wonder how much of the mid fifties ex intelligence officer living in Jamaica with a coronary condition was based on himself?) and from the vivid descriptions of sea life through to the bleak tale of Smythe's life and how his villainy and wealth have failed to bring him happiness this tale is a real winner for me.

Property of a Lady - 007 attends an auction at Sotheby's to try and uncover the Russian's top man in England, who MI6 think will be bidding on a priceless Faberge piece. The piece was sent to a top mole working for the Russians in MI6 as a clandestine way of paying her for her services. It's a slight tale, and has a glaring plot hole at it's heart (MI6 want to keep using the mole to pass disinformation, so why do they set out to expose the top Russian at the auction, thereby exposing that they know about the mole and eliminating her usefulness?) but Fleming's passion for the detail saves it and a decent read is the result.

Living Daylights - an unusually morose piece from Fleming finds Bond on a mission to eliminate a Russian sniper who will be trying to prevent a defector from making the dash from East to West in Berlin. This, for me, is the best story in the book as Fleming examines Bond's attitude to the job of a cold blooded murder. The final section of the story is as tense as they come as the mission plays itself out. It's a masterful piece, 5 stars in its own right.

007 in New York - This is a bit of an oddity. Seemingly penned by Fleming as an apology for a travelogue he once wrote in which he damned New York, this finds James Bond anticipating the pleasures of the city as he waits for a rendezvous with an ex MI6 agent to deliver a warning. In essence it is a description of all the best things to be found in the city, although it has one deficiency, which leads to an unusually funny ending. As an interesting coda there is an excellent recipe for scrambled eggs at the end.

This unabridged reading is excellent. Tom Hiddleston takes on the first three stories, and does a fine job of distinguishing characters without resorting to OTT accents and vocal gymnastics. He has a feel for the pace of the stories, and builds up the tension expertly. At the climax of Living Daylights I actually thought there were two people speaking at the same time, his vocal separation is so good. Following Living daylights there is a short interview with Hiddleston, which is mildly interesting. Then comes an introduction from Ian Fleming's niece, Lucy, giving some background for the story 007 in New York, which she then proceeds to read. I had worried that might be a little bit of a vanity job, but as it turns out she is a fine reader, perfectly suited to the piece and the whole thing ahs a feeling of something a little bit special.

Total run time is 3 hours 40 minutes. It's a great finish to what has been an excellent series of unabridged reading for all of the Bond adventures penned by Fleming. 5 stars.
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*Contains some plot spoilers*

First published in a single collection in 1966, 2 years after Ian Fleming's passing, this is the final print outing for superspy James Bond from the pen of his originator. It is a collection of four short stories, Octopussy, Property Of A Lady, The Living Daylights and 007 In New York. As with his previous short story collection, Fleming uses this as an opportunity to do something a bit different with his writing, and to get away from the traditional Bond milieu.

Being in the short story format, Fleming has to restrain himself from the over long descriptions that sometimes bogged the later Bond novels down slightly, making these short sharp and punchy pieces, but still beautifully observed. Story by story:

Octopussy - This is a great opening story. We see the story through the eyes of Major Dexter Smythe, an ex army officer who served with intelligence during the war and is now living in a comfortable retirement in Jamaica. A visit from an enigmatic man named Bond shatters his world, as the secret of his wealth is revealed and he must decide on his own future. This is a classic piece of writing from Fleming. The character of Smythe is particularly well realised (apart from the dodgy wartime dealing and the murder, I wonder how much of the mid fifties ex intelligence officer living in Jamaica with a coronary condition was based on himself?) and from the vivid descriptions of sea life through to the bleak tale of Smythe's life and how his villainy and wealth have failed to bring him happiness this tale is a real winner for me.

Property of a Lady - 007 attends an auction at Sotheby's to try and uncover the Russian's top man in England, who MI6 think will be bidding on a priceless Faberge piece. The piece was sent to a top mole working for the Russians in MI6 as a clandestine way of paying her for her services. It's a slight tale, and has a glaring plot hole at it's heart (MI6 want to keep using the mole to pass disinformation, so why do they set out to expose the top Russian at the auction, thereby exposing that they know about the mole and eliminating her usefulness?) but Fleming's passion for the detail saves it and a decent read is the result.

Living Daylights - an unusually morose piece from Fleming finds Bond on a mission to eliminate a Russian sniper who will be trying to prevent a defector from making the dash from East to West in Berlin. This, for me, is the best story in the book as Fleming examines Bond's attitude to the job of a cold blooded murder. The final section of the story is as tense as they come as the mission plays itself out. It's a masterful piece, 5 stars in its own right.

007 in New York - This is a bit of an oddity. Seemingly penned by Fleming as an apology for a travelogue he once wrote in which he damned New York, this finds James Bond anticipating the pleasures of the city as he waits for a rendezvous with an ex MI6 agent to deliver a warning. In essence it is a description of all the best things to be found in the city, although it has one deficiency, which leads to an unusually funny ending. As an interesting coda there is an excellent recipe for scrambled eggs at the end.

An interesting and worthwhile set of Bond stories, 5 stars in all.
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VINE VOICEon 4 November 2013
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This release completes the "007 Reloaded" range of unabridged audio books, bringing to life the final published work of Ian Fleming. In common with "For Your Eyes Only", it is a collection of short stories, each of which is a fairly atypical mission for James Bond. However, unlike "For Your Eyes Only", this book was published posthumously, and it is uncertain whether Fleming ever intended for these disparate tales to be brought together in a single volume. Each of the stories had already been published elsewhere prior to the release of the hardback in 1966.

"Octopussy", the first story in the collection, was originally serialised in the "Daily Express" in October 1965, though it had actually been written in early 1962. It is tempting to speculate that Fleming had planned this as part of an anthology, but then failed to follow up on the idea. There are some similarities to stories in "For Your Eyes Only". As in "The Hildebrand Rarity", there is a vivid exploration of marine life, and a key plot point is the capture of an elusive fish - in this case a deadly scorpion fish. As in "Quantum of Solace", Bond is merely the catalyst for a story told in flashback, a tragic tale involving a marriage that comes to a bitter end. It is a cautionary tale: the gold that Major Dexter Smythe obtains does not buy him happiness.

This story is a poignant epitaph to its author, as the unfortunate Major seems to have a lot in common with Fleming. He married a woman called Ann. He is feeling his age. He has suffered two heart attacks (the disease that killed Fleming in 1964) and lives in fear of a third. His vices are catching up with him. Whereas the author is usually quite casual about the large amounts of booze that Bond imbibes, here he is unequivocal about the fact that Smythe is an alcoholic. In some ways, the Major is like an older Bond - he is a fallen hero, and smoking is a "shared weakness" that he and Bond have in common - which may be a reason why 007 shows him a degree of mercy.

"The Property of a Lady" was first published in the Sotheby's annual journal "The Ivory Hammer" in 1963, though Fleming was reportedly so unhappy with his work that he refused to accept payment. While hardly an action-packed adventure, it is an engaging little story. An interesting point of continuity is that this tale must take place before "The Man with the Golden Gun", since that novel reveals the fate of the Secret Service mole Maria Freudenstein.

Several reviewers have commented that this collection bears little or no resemblance to the James Bond film series. In fact, there are a number of similarities, especially in the case of "The Property of a Lady" and "The Living Daylights". It is intriguing to observe that after a decade of jettisoning the plots of the novels when making the 1970s movies, the screenwriters retained large chunks of several short stories during the 1980s films. The treatment of the prose version of "Octopussy" is unusual: it becomes the backstory for Maud Adams's character in the movie of the same name, making the film almost a sequel to the short story. "The Property of a Lady" is incorporated in a more straightforward manner into the cinematic "Octopussy", though the characters of Dr Fanshawe and A Kenneth Snowman are combined in Jim Fanning, who is closer in personality to the amiable Snowman than the pompous Fanshawe.

The plot of "The Living Daylights", which first appeared in the "Sunday Times" colour supplement in February 1962, will be familiar to anyone who has seen the film of the same name. The story forms an early scene in the movie, which retains Bond's warning that the sniper could make "strawberry jam" of the intended victim, his claim of not caring whether he loses his Double-0 status for insubordination, and of course his comment that he "scared the living daylights out of her." The short story is the most typical 007 plot in this anthology, featuring gunfire, a tense threat to life, and a frisson of sexual attraction, though Bond doesn't actually get the girl in any of these tales.

This book's contents have varied over the years. The first edition contained just two stories, "Octopussy" and "The Living Daylights". The 1967 paperback added "The Property of a Lady" to the mix. It was not until 2002 that the fourth story was appended: "007 in New York", which had originally been published in the "New York Herald Tribune" in October 1963. As a result, I had never encountered this final entry before! It's an inconsequential little piece, written by way of an apology for Fleming's dismissive assessment of New York in his travelogue "Thrilling Cities", but it's nice to have a bit of Fleming that is new to me! The story's title is very dull - the author's original suggestion, "Reflections in a Carey Cadillac", would have been better.

The first three stories are read by Tom Hiddleston, alias Loki in the "Thor" movies. He strikes just the right dark note for Bond, and has some fun with characters such as the proud old soldier Major Smythe and the snooty Dr Fanshawe. Adding to the oddness of "007 in New York" is the fact that it has a different reader, Lucy Fleming, the niece of Ian Fleming and the producer of this audio range. This strikes me as a strange editorial decision, but Fleming gives a competent - witty, even - reading.

My word, I have written a lot! This is a fairly short collection of shorts, running to less than four hours - but as you can see, there's plenty here to fire the imagination.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Because James Bond movies have been around for so long, and the stories have been constantly updated to reflect the times in which they were made, it is easy to forget that Ian Fleming wrote them back in the fifties and early sixties. It's also easy to forget just how brilliantly they were written. The BBC has now produced a number of completely unabridged audio versions of some of the most popular books. "Octopussy and the Living Daylights "is one of the series.
As an indication of the times in which the books were written, in "The Property of a Lady", a fabulous Faberge objet d'art was sold at auction for £150,000, which was considered exceptional, and a female clerk lived within her £50 per month salary. By today's standards, this book would probably be considered politically incorrect, but that does nothing to mar the enjoyment.
Tom Hiddleston reads "Octopussy", The Living Daylights" and "The Property of a Lady" beautifully and the producer of the CD, the author's niece, Lucy Fleming, reads "007 in New York which, rather than a story, is clearly Ian Fleming's appraisal of the dining available in New York in the early sixties. In addition to the stories, there is also an interview with the Tome Hiddleston on his experience of recording the stories. The recording quality of the eight CDs is excellent; clear and sharp. In contrast to the movies, in all four stories, James Bond fires only one shot in anger, and kills nobody.
If you like James Bond stories you should listen to this recording. If you have read the books, it will refresh your memory; if you have only watched the movies, you will gain a totally new dimension on the story.
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on 24 February 2002
A slim collection of Bond short stories not published until after the author's death. Dealing as they do with greed, betrayal and conscience they are a worthy addition to any Bond aficionado's collection of stories about the man from 'the Ministry of Defence'.
'Octopussy' is the study of a man in decline, as one Major Smythe, wracked by guilt over a wartime episode, gradually loses his will to live. With his secret almost mercifully exposed by a stranger, he makes his exit in the most bizarre manner since Dr No himself.
'The Property of a Lady' is a real curiosity with the final action set inside the main sale room of Sotheby's, of all places. Here Bond, aided by the suitably ice-cool Faberge expert, Mr Snowman, attempts to expose a pay-off to a Soviet spy involving a Faberge 'Object of Vertu'.
'The Living Daylights' is a melancholy tale about a 'hit' that has been assigned to Bond. It is deemed necessary in order to allow an agent, '272', to escape unhindered across from Soviet occupied East Berlin. Bond is cooped up in a small, musty apartment with the rather officious 'Number 2' of West Berlin station and eventually falls foul of him when he hesitates at the last second as the identity of his target becomes clear. The two men make an interesting combination. In Bond we see a man still guided by humanity and in Captain Sender (Number 2) we see a man guided by nothing more than rules.
Three stories then to add to the already impressive litany of Bond adventures, and three stories that reveal more about the characters themselves than about any plot. As short stories they are unable to develop the kind of fast-paced, multi-faceted, globe-trotting battle between good and evil that make up the backbones of so many Bond adventures. However, in limiting themselves into looking into why people do the things they do and the consequences of actions they are no less interesting and thought provoking.
On a different note, I think it would be a good idea if some of the reviewers actually read the book again. The instances of wrong information being contained in some of the 'reviews' is
inexcusable. For instance, in 'The Living Daylights', Bond doesn't cross the east-west strip in Berlin and in 'The Property of a Lady' he doesn't bid for a Faberge egg. There are more examples but word limits dictate. Ian Fleming deserves to have his novels more carefully examined.
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VINE VOICEon 6 September 2010
This book contains 3 Bond Short Stories and an article Fleming wrote.

The first is where Bond confronts an ex-secret service Major over what happened at the end of the war and how he acquired his fortune. It also gives a little human background to Bond before the war and as an adolescent.

The second is Property of a Lady which describes the Russians paying off one of their under-cover operatives with a Faberge Jewel. This is the weakest of the stories. It is unnecessarily negative about women who are not beautiful - to the point of being misogynistic and the story is nonsense. Why risk a section chief to bump up the sale price? It is just silly.

The third and the best is the Living Daylights where Bond has to shoot a sniper who is going to kill an important defecting agent. But again Fleming shows Bond to care more about chasing skirt than his job. This is why it gets four stars and not three.

Finally there is a short article about New York which Fleming wrote to try and appease New Yorkers after his own scathing attack after visiting the city, but it is hardly an endorsement and attacks the US with typical public school snobbery for which Fleming is renowned.
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VINE VOICEon 12 October 2013
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Octopussy And The Living Daylights is another excellent addition to the 007 Reloaded audio collection. This time the stories are read by Tom Hiddleston (who plays Loki in Thor and Avengers Assemble) and Lucy Fleming (the neice of Ian Fleming),who reads 007 In New York. Both readers do a first rate job. This is the second collection of Bond short stories Ian Fleming wrote, the first being For Your Eyes Only. The stories on this audio cd are Octopussy, The Living Daylights, The Property Of A Lady and 007 In New York. The stories are pritty good and 007 In New York was an unexpected treat as I have not read that story before. This 4 cd set runs for around 3 hours 40 minutes.
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on 28 October 2002
This, Ian Fleming's last 'James Bond' story, first published in 1966.
This book contains not only the cover titles, but two others not published in the first edition, 'the Property of a Lady', and '007 in New York'. '007 in New York' appears here for the first time in book form.
'the Living Daylights' is, in my opinion, a terrifically taught study in cold war espionage. The sheer electricity that runs through the story is indescribable, an interesting combination of the dull, annonymous world of spying crosswired with large ammounts of tension. Fleming wrote this story originally for the debut issue of 'the Sunday Times Colour Supplement', and was published with not much notoriety, but this is undoubtably a crisp example of a Bond story. 'The Property of a Lady' is a curious tale, much to the interest of the antiquarian or collector, which takes place in the London auction rooms of Sotheby's: A quick, hurried story that never looses any of its chances to take a shock to its reader.
'007 in New York' is, essentially, a short summary of New York written for the American edition of Fleming's 1963 travel book 'Thrilling Cities'. The few pages in the story take on a 'Gambit' quality, with descriptions of New York's wonderful nightlife (and daylife).
'Octopussy' is one of Fleming's last stories that he ever wrote, and concerns a hoard of Nazi gold nessled in the grasp of a dying major.
Overall, this is a good book to either start the Bond saga with: it is something of a taster, a tester, an inexpensive blueprint of what to expect from other, more time-consuming novels.
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*Contains some plot spoilers*

First published in a single collection in 1966, 2 years after Ian Fleming's passing, this is the final print outing for superspy James Bond from the pen of his originator. It is a collection of four short stories, Octopussy, Property Of A Lady, The Living Daylights and 007 In New York. As with his previous short story collection, Fleming uses this as an opportunity to do something a bit different with his writing, and to get away from the traditional Bond milieu.

Being in the short story format, Fleming has to restrain himself from the over long descriptions that sometimes bogged the later Bond novels down slightly, making these short sharp and punchy pieces, but still beautifully observed. Story by story:

Octopussy - This is a great opening story. We see the story through the eyes of Major Dexter Smythe, an ex army officer who served with intelligence during the war and is now living in a comfortable retirement in Jamaica. A visit from an enigmatic man named Bond shatters his world, as the secret of his wealth is revealed and he must decide on his own future. This is a classic piece of writing from Fleming. The character of Smythe is particularly well realised (apart from the dodgy wartime dealing and the murder, I wonder how much of the mid fifties ex intelligence officer living in Jamaica with a coronary condition was based on himself?) and from the vivid descriptions of sea life through to the bleak tale of Smythe's life and how his villainy and wealth have failed to bring him happiness this tale is a real winner for me.

Property of a Lady - 007 attends an auction at Sotheby's to try and uncover the Russian's top man in England, who MI6 think will be bidding on a priceless Faberge piece. The piece was sent to a top mole working for the Russians in MI6 as a clandestine way of paying her for her services. It's a slight tale, and has a glaring plot hole at it's heart (MI6 want to keep using the mole to pass disinformation, so why do they set out to expose the top Russian at the auction, thereby exposing that they know about the mole and eliminating her usefulness?) but Fleming's passion for the detail saves it and a decent read is the result.

Living Daylights - an unusually morose piece from Fleming finds Bond on a mission to eliminate a Russian sniper who will be trying to prevent a defector from making the dash from East to West in Berlin. This, for me, is the best story in the book as Fleming examines Bond's attitude to the job of a cold blooded murder. The final section of the story is as tense as they come as the mission plays itself out. It's a masterful piece, 5 stars in its own right.

007 in New York - This is a bit of an oddity. Seemingly penned by Fleming as an apology for a travelogue he once wrote in which he damned New York, this finds James Bond anticipating the pleasures of the city as he waits for a rendezvous with an ex MI6 agent to deliver a warning. In essence it is a description of all the best things to be found in the city, although it has one deficiency, which leads to an unusually funny ending. As an interesting coda there is an excellent recipe for scrambled eggs at the end.

An interesting and worthwhile set of Bond stories, 5 stars in all.
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