First published in 1965, The Man With The Golden Gun was the thirteenth print outing (and twelfth full length novel) for superspy James Bond. It was the second to last Bond book by Ian Fleming, and published posthumously.
Following the events of `You Only Live Twice', in which Bond had lost his memory and was travelling to Russia to try and recover his identity, we meet a Bond seemingly in command of his faculties once again and trying to make contact with his old boss, M. But there is something amiss, Bond has been brainwashed by SMERSH and has been sent to assassinate M. Following the failed attempt Bond is rehabilitated, and M sends him on a potentially suicidal mission in order to reprove his worth and loyalty to the service. That mission is nothing less than to assassinate Francisco Scaramanga, AKA the man with the Golden Gun.
Bond is soon immersed in Carribean life as he tries to get close to his prey. A stroke of luck places him right next to Scaramanga, but it turns out the hoodlum is into something deep and Bond feels he must investigate and put a stop to the whole show rather than just kill Scaramanga. Aided by his old friend Felix Leiter and his ex-secretary Miss Goodnight, he goes through a tense and thrilling set of adventures as he winds towards one of the best finales that Fleming ever wrote.
Some complain that this book feels a little unfinished and rough around the edges. I have to say that I think this is a blessing. The Bond books had been getting increasingly overblown with greater degrees of grotesquery as Fleming tried to outdo himself with ever more imaginative descriptions. Here there is a feeling of restraint as Fleming had not had time to go back over the bare bones of the story and add too much flesh before he died. But the unadorned story is still a real thrill ride with plenty of painful and well imagined set pieces. It's a great read, 5 stars.