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4.7 out of 5 stars
Dr No: James Bond 007 (Vintage Classics)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If your only experience of James Bond has come via the big screen, then Ian Fleming's original creation may come as something of a revelation. Gone are all traces of the debonair, suave and entirely self-assured silver screen version of 007; Fleming's version of the character is altogether more fallible, often haunted by self-doubt and is generally much more of a misfit in the world. Fleming's version is more nuanced than you'll find portrayed in the films: whilst never comfortable when it comes to killing anyone, Fleming's Bond is nevertheless far more brutal and violent than his screen incarnation should the need arise. There is also no snobbery about him, either; rather the exact opposite, as he often finds himself with greater of admiration for and with more in common with the men he is sent after than for those whom he serves. And while driven by a deep sense of honour and of chivalry, he is, if anything, even more sexist, misogynistic and homophobic than his silver screen alter ego.

Although "Dr. No" was the first Bond story to appear in the cinema (1962), it is in fact the sixth of the Bond novels, dating from 1958. Its action follows hard on the heels of "From Russia, with Love", in which Bond only narrowly escaped death by poisoning. At the beginning of this story he is still recuperating somewhat from that earlier ordeal and he is assigned the job which eventually leads him to tangle with the eponymous villain of this piece -- another encounter from which he emerges badly scathed -- almost as a holiday assignment in the sun. Fleming's original storylines are far more involved and much better structured than the bastardised versions adopted by the film franchise and that is certainly true here, with the true nature of Dr No's guano (not bauxite) mining operations on Crab Key not being fully revealed either to Bond or the reader until almost the final chapter.

For those who would rather have books read to them than read them for themselves, AudioGo's series of complete and unexpurgated "007 Reloaded" CD audio books offer an excellent alternative to printed copy. This volume is exceptionally well read by Hugh Quarshie across 8 CDs, with a total running time of approx 7hr 45mins. His characterisations of all of the various people in the story feel absolutely spot-on, with accents, patois and vocal timbres all done to perfection -- even doing an incredible portrayal of Honeychile Rider -- making the listening time feel only half of what it really is.

Excellent stuff!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Everything about Dr.No shows Bond in top form & Fleming writing at his best.
The introduction, set in a damp & miserable London, with a curmudgeonly M showing his dislike for just about the whole human race & hoping to punish Bond for a costly mistake by sending him off on a 'soft' mission in Jamaica.
Once there the disappearance of a government agent & his secretary prove to be the beginning of a classic Bond tale.
Jamaica is described in sweltering detail & Bond meets up with a great ally in Quarrell, a man of much wit & intelligence who knows his way around a fight. They eventually meet perhaps Bonds best known female character in Miss Honeychile Ryder. A million miles from Ursula Andress' looming Scandinavian beauty the original is far more a local, more fragile & has a deep & moving backstory. A rare depth in female characterisation for Fleming that avoids the usual cliche & throwaway sensibility. Even Bond is rendered a more civilised beast by her. The combination of Ryder & Quarrell goes a long way to the extra depth & enjoyment to be had in Dr.No.
Another great addition in this release is the reading. For a minute or two I had my doubts about Quarshie's reading but he soon grabs hold of things and gives a masterful reading.
His depth of emotion & descriptive reading are amongst the best I have heard in this series so far. His M is wonderfully clipped & grumpy with a real sense that he is out of touch & fading. Bond appears thoughtful & unlike his usual cocky self.
But if the narrative is good then the characterisation is easily the best of all the readings so far. The West Indian accents are so good and before long everyone is easily distinguishable due to the wide variety in voices.
The diction is clear & a little louder than usual, (with the exception of Ryder who almost whispers). The recording is of course spot on.
A great story coupled with one of the best audio book readings I've ever heard, Bond or otherwise.
Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Dr No is the sixth appearance in print for Ian Fleming's James Bond. Originally published in 1958 it is very much of it's time in certain attitudes and the dangers facing the world, but it is a ripping yarn that holds up well still today.

Following the near fatal events of `From Russia With Love', and Bond's extended convalescence, he is sent by M to Jamaica on what should be an easy case to ease Bond back into the groove. A relaxing holiday in the sun as M puts it. Two operatives, the local station chief and his secretary, have mysteriously disappeared. Bond is sent to find out what happened to them, and to look into the sudden reduction in numbers of a rare bird, the roseate spoonbill, on nearby Crab Key. What looks like a simple matter, well below his abilities, quickly turns into something more sinister, and eventually leads Bond into a struggle that pushes him right to the limits of his physical and mental endurance. Every step of the way is a trial for Bond, and from the moment he sets foot in Jamaica he has to be on the top of his game to avoid ending up dead, and to protect those around him.

It's a thrilling book, and once again Fleming writes with bags of atmosphere. You can picture the syrupy glow of the sun in Jamaica, hear the birds in the trees, feel every ounce of terror and pain inflicted on the characters. There are several bravura sequences, which are totally and utterly gripping; Bond's encounter with a deadly centipede, and his fight for survival in Dr No's lair are nailbiting and exhausting examples. Added to which is Fleming's ability to relate mundane matters in an interesting way - the guano industry is central to the book, and Fleming makes his essential description of this most uninteresting sounding subject both informative and enthralling. And the final detail, Dr No is a fascinating villain, somewhat outré, but nothing totally impossible in his physical description. He is certainly one of the more memorable Bond villains.

Some of the views expressed in the book seem a little, er, backwards today. Especially in terms of race. But in Fleming's defence, these were views that were commonly held, and the characters he creates would, if they were real people, have held those views. It cannot be held up as an example of Fleming's or Bond's own views. It is, as I said, a book of it's time, and reflects the era.

In general it is another tense and exciting story from Fleming. And to be honest, any book where the villain earns his money from guano and meets his end buried under 20 tons of the stuff in an imaginative climax, is worth a look!

All in all a 5 star book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
For all their initial popularity, the original James Bond novels are a very inconsistent lot, with a handful of excellent books nestled among some rather clumsy ones where it feels that Fleming is padding out decent but somewhat flimsy plots with acres of research. As a result some feel like you're alternating reading a chapter of a pulp thriller with a chapter of a non-fiction book. It's a style that Michael Crichton was able to get away with much better in his techno-thrillers, but with Fleming it's very hit and miss. Thankfully Dr No, James Bond's sixth print outing, is one of Fleming's better novels. There's still plenty of exposition but, unlike many of the other Bond novels, he disguises it well enough that it doesn't feel like the author is regurgitating guide books or technical articles. Nor does he accept his sources as wholeheartedly as in other Bond novels, allowing his characters to debate them as in the early conversation between M and the service's chief doctor over how much torture a man can stand.

The story isn't bad either, with Bond being eased back into service with a supposedly easy assignment after needing months of recuperation after screwing up his last assignment: go to Jamaica to track down the missing station head who has almost certainly run off with his secretary. Naturally there's more to it than that, and while it turns out that there's the kind of big scheme behind it that's just made-for-the-movies, which is hardly surprising since it's based on a rejected TV screenplay Fleming wrote in 1956, it's played out much more credibly than expected. The supposed source of Dr Julius No's income is much more down to earth - guano - and the reason for the murders that kicks off the plot is driven not by, of all things, endangered bird preservation. Of course you still get the iconic Honeychile Rider emerging Venus-like from the sea, the island's fearsome `dragon' and the sex, sadism and snobbery the series would become famous for, though fans of the film may be surprised to find a poisonous centipede rather than a deadly tarantula in Bond's hotel room and the Fu Manchu-inspired Dr No getting a rather more, er, fertile exit. Despite the terrible reviews that met it on publication in 1958, it holds up much better than some of the other Bond novels, and Hugh Quarshie's unfussy reading on AudioGo's unabridged audiobook is pleasingly effective.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I still remember being thrilled when Dr No first appeared in the cinema, with the incomparable Sean Connery in his first appearance as James Bond. The film was so impressive that I wasn't sure how Hugh Quarsie would compare. I need not have worried; this is an excellent introduction to the 007 audiobook cololection. Even a very English James Bond didn't detract, and his Jamaican accents - especially for Quarrel - were brilliant. The story unrolls at a proper pace, with excellent characterisations. The image of M as someone who actually found everyone else irritating, especially if they increased his workload by trying to protect birds (the Audobon society was seen as a set of old women with too much time on their hands) or if they inconvenienly nearly get themselves killed because their Beretta jammed, as in the case of 007, was also brilliantly communicated. Of it's time, Fleming had no problem with including Chinese negroes as bad guys, so perhaps could be uncomfortable for some listeners in a way that an English villain wouldn't.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As part of the '007 Reloaded' range of audiobooks (as released by the now-defunct AudioGo), Dr. No is an eight-disc, unabridged reading of Ian Fleming's original 1958 novel, with Hugh Quarshie narrating. Being a Bond fan, I decided to select this goodie from Amazon Vine.

I knew beforehand that the Bond movies differ from the original books (how much depends on the adventure in question), thus making me all the more keen to see how much the film diverted from Fleming's original novel. The only Bond novel I'd read before listening to this audio-reading of Dr. No was Live & Let Die (and had thoroughly enjoyed it). So I was expecting for a similar experience...and I got just that.

To discuss Fleming's prose first, it's timeless. The plotting, characterization, description and overall pacing are absolutely impeccable. From simple things like sitting down and eating meals, to detailing the environments and intense sequences, and character dialogue, Ian Fleming NEVER wasted a single word. I cannot find fault at all! The writing is perfect, and to those James Bond movie-lovers who've never touched the original source material, Dr. No (like every other 007 novel) is just as classic (if not more so).

The 8-disc format of this audiobook is a real treat, made so by Hugh Quarshie, who truly does Ian's writing justice with his narration. Soft-spoken and reserved for the most part, only coming to life when occasion calls for it; Hugh's tone is faultless, and offers a variety of different voices for all the characters. The special bonus interview at the end of the reading provides wonderful insight into Hugh's experiences with reading both Dr. No's original novel and cinematic adaptation, plus the challenges he encountered when performing. It's all utterly compelling for the human ear.

This audiobook of Dr. No is mandatory for all Bond fans, be it book, film or both. It's inspired me to check out the rest of the 007 Reloaded collection, and I highly recommend everyone else does too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Dr No is the sixth appearance in print for Ian Fleming's James Bond. Originally published in 1958 it is very much of it's time in certain attitudes and the dangers facing the world, but it is a ripping yarn that holds up well still today.

Following the near fatal events of `From Russia With Love', and Bond's extended convalescence, he is sent by M to Jamaica on what should be an easy case to ease Bond back into the groove. A relaxing holiday in the sun as M puts it. Two operatives, the local station chief and his secretary, have mysteriously disappeared. Bond is sent to find out what happened to them, and to look into the sudden reduction in numbers of a rare bird, the roseate spoonbill, on nearby Crab Key. What looks like a simple matter, well below his abilities, quickly turns into something more sinister, and eventually leads Bond into a struggle that pushes him right to the limits of his physical and mental endurance. Every step of the way is a trial for Bond, and from the moment he sets foot in Jamaica he has to be on the top of his game to avoid ending up dead, and to protect those around him.

It's a thrilling book, and once again Fleming writes with bags of atmosphere. You can picture the syrupy glow of the sun in Jamaica, hear the birds in the trees, feel every ounce of terror and pain inflicted on the characters. There are several bravura sequences, which are totally and utterly gripping; Bond's encounter with a deadly centipede, and his fight for survival in Dr No's lair are nailbiting and exhausting examples. Added to which is Fleming's ability to relate mundane matters in an interesting way - the guano industry is central to the book, and Fleming makes his essential description of this most uninteresting sounding subject both informative and enthralling. And the final detail, Dr No is a fascinating villain, somewhat outré, but nothing totally impossible in his physical description. He is certainly one of the more memorable Bond villains.

Some of the views expressed in the book seem a little, er, backwards today. Especially in terms of race. But in Fleming's defence, these were views that were commonly held, and the characters he creates would, if they were real people, have held those views. It cannot be held up as an example of Fleming's or Bond's own views. It is, as I said, a book of it's time, and reflects the era.

In general it is another tense and exciting story from Fleming. And to be honest, any book where the villain earns his money from guano and meets his end buried under 20 tons of the stuff in an imaginative climax, is worth a look!

All in all a 5 star book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Dr No is the sixth appearance in print for Ian Fleming's James Bond. Originally published in 1958 it is very much of it's time in certain attitudes and the dangers facing the world, but it is a ripping yarn that holds up well still today.

Following the near fatal events of `From Russia With Love', and Bond's extended convalescence, he is sent by M to Jamaica on what should be an easy case to ease Bond back into the groove. A relaxing holiday in the sun as M puts it. Two operatives, the local station chief and his secretary, have mysteriously disappeared. Bond is sent to find out what happened to them, and to look into the sudden reduction in numbers of a rare bird, the roseate spoonbill, on nearby Crab Key. What looks like a simple matter, well below his abilities, quickly turns into something more sinister, and eventually leads Bond into a struggle that pushes him right to the limits of his physical and mental endurance. Every step of the way is a trial for Bond, and from the moment he sets foot in Jamaica he has to be on the top of his game to avoid ending up dead, and to protect those around him.

It's a thrilling book, and once again Fleming writes with bags of atmosphere. You can picture the syrupy glow of the sun in Jamaica, hear the birds in the trees, feel every ounce of terror and pain inflicted on the characters. There are several bravura sequences, which are totally and utterly gripping; Bond's encounter with a deadly centipede, and his fight for survival in Dr No's lair are nailbiting and exhausting examples. Added to which is Fleming's ability to relate mundane matters in an interesting way - the guano industry is central to the book, and Fleming makes his essential description of this most uninteresting sounding subject both informative and enthralling. And the final detail, Dr No is a fascinating villain, somewhat outré, but nothing totally impossible in his physical description. He is certainly one of the more memorable Bond villains.

Some of the views expressed in the book seem a little, er, backwards today. Especially in terms of race. But in Fleming's defence, these were views that were commonly held, and the characters he creates would, if they were real people, have held those views. It cannot be held up as an example of Fleming's or Bond's own views. It is, as I said, a book of it's time, and reflects the era.

In general it is another tense and exciting story from Fleming. And to be honest, any book where the villain earns his money from guano and meets his end buried under 20 tons of the stuff in an imaginative climax, is worth a look!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 January 2004
Re-reading "Doctor No" for the first time in forty years reminded me of just how many liberties the film makers took with the original Fleming novels, even in the very early days of the film series. "Doctor No: the Novel" is diffferent in a number of ways from the screen version. The CIA agent Felix Leiter is nowhere to be seen and Bond does not have to contend with Dr. No's henchman Professor Dent (though there is a brief reference to a professor of mathematics who played bridge with the murdered British agent Strangways). Miss Taro is still Dr. No's spy in the British embassy, but she misses out on her (screen) bedroom romp with 007. And although Honey Rider appears on the beach of Crab Key island, it is minus the famous white bikini! Features of the novel that regrettably never made it to the screen include Bond's battle with a giant octopus and Dr. No's final demise in a large pile of bird dung! The novel is still an entertaining and suspenseful spy story, though the reader guesses right from the beginning that the reclusive Dr. No is going to be the villain. One can also see traces of the sadism that reviewers like Paul Johnson found so distasteful when the Bond series first appeared. There is, however, arguably less sex in the novel than in the film version, and when Honey finally drags Bond into her double sleeping bag in the last chapter he seems almost reluctant (though not for long!)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 May 2014
Dr. No is one of the stronger Bond novels, a superb tour-de-force by the enthralling Ian Fleming. You’ve probably seen the film version featuring the inimitable Sean Connery as Fleming’s protagonist, but the 007 that Fleming writes about is very different to the playboy extraordinaire that we see on the silver screen.

Here, Bond is weak and half-defeated, away on a mission to Jamaica to carry out a simple task, an investigation in to the unexplained disappearance of Commander John Strangways. Bond is expecting an easy mission, but he quickly discovers that something strange is going on, and all of the rumours seem to surround the eponymous Dr. Julian No, the Chinese operator of a guano mine on the island of Crab Key.

Throughout the novel, Dr. No is a mysterious character who somehow continues to be a threat despite the fact that almost nothing is known about him. The use of guano as a plot device is a stroke of genius, as is the use of the endangered Roseate Spoonbill – they pose a threat to Dr. No, because their protected status proved troublesome to his guano operation.

Overall, this novel comes highly recommended from me, and I think you’ll enjoy it whether you’re a fan of the movies or not – as seems to be the case with most things, the book is better. So go forth and read it!
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