Just over a week ago all of the James Bond novels were on sale in kindle format. So I decided to pick up two more. I was frustrated with the last James Bond novel I read, Goldfinger, because it was so cartoonish in its story line.
But I thought maybe an earlier novel will be better. So I borrowed the kindle version of From Russia With Love from Lendle.me and then used promotional Audible credit to get the audiobook.
The story line is that SPECTER, the Russian black ops group, wants to kill a western spy to teach the west a lesson. Bond is the one that is chosen and a young female agent is trained to seduce him and a British turncoat is chosen to kill him.
Much of the action is in Turkey or on the Oriental Express train. But really there is not a lot of plot here. Bond shows himself to be lucky more than a good spy. He falls for the girl (and she for him). And although people are dying all around him, Bond doesn’t seem to pick up on any of the problems and assures M he is alright. The final climaxes are alright but nothing special.
This is a pulp fiction spy novel. It does not raise itself anywhere close to the level of John le Carré or some of the other better writer. It is not that Fleming is a bad writer, but that he is trying to write pulp fiction, not great literature.
The inherent racism and sexism of the novels betrays the time more than anything else. It is easy to just fly through the books as a beach read. But then you are jarred awake when you read about one of the characters (a good guy) boasting of kidnapping and raping women in his youth and Bond watching two women fight to death (much of the time they are naked) over a man, not Bond. But even the Bond girl asks Bond to beat her if she ever eats too much and starts to gain weight. And Bond assure her that he will.
I have one more Bond book that I am tempted to return but I probably will read just to see if it is any better. But I doubt it will be.