Vivienne Michel is a young impressionable woman who has been taken advantage of one too many times. Seeking a new life, she plans a transcontinental rVivienne Michel is a young impressionable woman who has been taken advantage of one too many times. Seeking a new life, she plans a transcontinental road trip from her home town of Montreal to Florida. When she stops over in a motel in the Adirondacks she gets caught up in a gangster's scheme. Trapped alone in the mountains with two dangerous men, who, if anyone, can help?
The Spy Who Loves Me is the strange bird in the Ian Fleming novels. He essentially sidelines his hero(view spoiler)[, Bond eventually does show up to save the day about two-thirds of the way in, (hide spoiler)] to focus on a romance novel style plot of a woman who is unlucky in love and blames herself. Oddly enough, I found this particular part rather credible as a character point. If one reads between the lines, it's quite clear that the men in her life are the predators and, like a rape victim, she thinks it's her fault for their behavior.
For those who have seen the movie, the book shares almost nothing in common. Only the henchmen bear a resemblance that can be recognized in these characters. That said, and despite my two-star rating, I recommend reading this to those who have made it this far into the series. While it's a flawed work, it's interesting to see an external view of Bond's life from Fleming's mundane world. It's quite clear that, while Fleming enjoys the thrills, he also recognizes that it's not good for people to really be involved in this sort of life.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
James Bond has been sent to Shrublands, a resort spa to help improve his health. When he encounters a member of a Chinese tong, he stumbles onto a larJames Bond has been sent to Shrublands, a resort spa to help improve his health. When he encounters a member of a Chinese tong, he stumbles onto a larger conspiracy, one that could cost the lives of millions.
Those who have seen the movie version of Thunderball will not be terribly surprised by the book. While this version arguably is more audacious in some matters, the basic throughplot is the same and only some minor details vary in the adaptation.
That said, it's a gripping yarn and, consistent with Ian Fleming's earlier volumes, is efficently told. Much more efficiently than the films which seem to need to throw in a bit of action every so often.
It's hard not to see this volume as an inspiration for some of Tom Clancy's work. The same love of spies and seafaring as you'd see in books like The Hunt for Red October
Ian Fleming's eighth book in the Bond series is a short story collection. Primarily set around the time of the Cuban Revolution, this book only tangenIan Fleming's eighth book in the Bond series is a short story collection. Primarily set around the time of the Cuban Revolution, this book only tangentially deals with events there but provides an entertaining reveal of the author's own political leanings.
From a View to a Kill is set just outside of Paris where a motorcycle courier is mysteriously killed and 007 is called in to investigate. This story tends to be the most Cold War of the bunch as it deals with your more traditional spies and plots.
For Your Eyes Only will be somewhat familiar to those who have seen the movie. But in this case, the Havelocks are killed by a Batista ally looking to escape from the country. In this version, M's assigning bond to the case is a personal matter, not a security one hence the title, and Bond's thoughts express sympathy for the Cuban rebels.
Quantum of Solace is really just an after-dinner conversation between Bond and a civil servant, but it gets at the underlying issue of sympathy and judging a person based upon first impressions. It also though, gets at the question of forgiveness.
Risico is a story of the heroin trade in Italy and is the other major contributor to the film version of For Your Eyes Only. In this version, Bond is directed to Kristatos, an American double agent, to find the source of Heroin coming into Great Britain. When 007 is pointed to a smuggler named Colombo, Bond gets more than he bargained for.
The final story, The Hildebrand Rarity, isn't really a spy story at all, more a spies on their day off kind of story. While waiting for his ship back from the Seychelles, Bond is lured into helping a (stereotypical) American businessman find a rare fish. When the businessman pushes Bond and the other people on his yacht too far, who knows what could happen?
It's not a bad collection, though many of the stories struggle at points. Plus, that occasional casual racism of the period pokes up now and again. Still, it passes the time.
After a narrow escape, Bond is seconded to the Bank of England to investigate the suspected disappearance of gold. The clues point to a mysterious magAfter a narrow escape, Bond is seconded to the Bank of England to investigate the suspected disappearance of gold. The clues point to a mysterious magnate named Auric Goldfinger, who has an audacious scheme beyond even what Bond can imagine..
The man cheats at cards and golf, so you know he has to be evil. It's a bit of a cliche for Ian Fleming. Being a cold blooded murderer is fine, but cheating at sport is completely out.
Otherwise, if you've seen the movie, which is pretty faithful, you know the book. The book's a bit more realistic than the movie(view spoiler)[, aside from the fact someone realized you cannot use a small nuclear device without consequences, (hide spoiler)] and the movie makes a couple things more visual than the book to keep it more efficient, but the plot's generally the same.
Other than that, it's a pretty entertaining read that only gets bogged down when Fleming writes about a golf match or casts aspersions based on race or sexuality. Not as bad as say, Doctor No or Live and Let Die in that regard, but still a clear sign of the period Fleming is from.
Two British agents in Jamaica have disappeared and M, not trusting his recently nearly killed agent, dispatches James Bond for what he thinks will beTwo British agents in Jamaica have disappeared and M, not trusting his recently nearly killed agent, dispatches James Bond for what he thinks will be a simple investigation of the two agents running off together. Instead, it reveals a much darker secret, where a man has taken control of an entire island and has much greater ambitions.
This is the first time we really get outside of the classic Smersh worldview of the original novels. The eponymous villain is actually taking money from the Soviets, but it's not hugely relevant to the story except to elevate the stakes a bit. Instead, it's mostly about his goals of isolation and control.
Those who have seen the movie will see this one hit many of the same beats. (view spoiler)[More is done internally in Bond's dialogue, including discovering one of No's agents in the British embassy, and Spectre is again completely absent. Dr. No is still steering rockets off course, but this is really tangential and, to be frank, irrelevant to the plot. They wisely upped the stakes in the adaptation. (hide spoiler)]
The book does have some flaws, Honey Rider, the female lead, is supposed to be uneducated, though smart, not unlike Quarrel, Bond's right hand man in Jamaica. But she, being white, speaks with no accent, while Quarrel speaks with a heavy one. This, in reflection, just comes off as racist. Not as bad as Live and Let Die, but not good.
That said, the novel itself is enjoyable, if Fleming's prose remains sparse and occasionally idiosyncratic (e.g. a gun "crashes" to shoot). For those who have read this far, I wouldn't tell them to skip it or stop.
The Soviet Intelligence Agencies have egg on their face and they need to find some sort of operational coup to save face. Their solution, kill James BThe Soviet Intelligence Agencies have egg on their face and they need to find some sort of operational coup to save face. Their solution, kill James Bond. Setting up a complicated trap, they lure Bond to Istanbul with promise of a cryptography device and a beautiful woman who has fallen in love with his photograph.
Ian Fleming is experimenting with his format in this volume. The first half is all about introducing the pieces on the Soviet side of the equation and Bond doesn't appear until almost one hundred pages in. But it's well handled and the primary characters are interesting. Meanwhile, the second half, featuring larger-than-life Turkish spy Darko Kerim, ramps up the action with many scenes taken almost intact into the movie adaptation.
Plus the ending.. well.. let's just say Fleming wasn't sure he wanted to continue writing James Bond novels. ...more
Heading back offshore after staying home in Moonraker, James Bond is tasked with closing off a diamond smuggling operation that threatens the BritishHeading back offshore after staying home in Moonraker, James Bond is tasked with closing off a diamond smuggling operation that threatens the British stranglehold on the market.
This is actually a pretty canny story. Instead of being a generic cold war thriller, Bond is tasked with protecting the British economy. It feels authentic that way. Not everything is the Soviets. The trail leads from the diamond mines of Africa to the American Southwest as Bond attempts to end the smuggling ring entirely.
For those who have seen the movie, but not read the book, it's actually pretty faithful, aside from the villain being entirely more conventional than the evil SPECTRE and with that, no space laser. So, while the villain is theatrical and over the top, he still feels more realistic than the movie version. Wint and Kidd, the two gay assassins, are found here, but they're not given much time to develop their characters in here. Instead it's information related through a third party that reveals their orientation. Much as in Live and Let Die this reminds us of the casual prejudices of the period. And while, that homophobia and racism can be found here, its in significantly smaller quantities than can be found in the other book, so it's not as troubling.
While I wouldn't rate it quite as highly as Moonraker, I'd still rate it worth reading.
When M catches a gentleman cheating at cards, he calls upon 007 to defend the realm against those who would oppose fair play.
Okay, that's not particuWhen M catches a gentleman cheating at cards, he calls upon 007 to defend the realm against those who would oppose fair play.
Okay, that's not particularly fair, but the starting point for the book is pretty much that absurd. Hugo Drax is an enterprising engineer in postwar England and he has promised to build the country's first intercontinental ballistic missile, the eponymous Moonraker. But, after M's suspicions are raised by Drax's cardplay, when the security officer is killed under mysterious circumstances, James Bond is sent to the site and discovers that Drax has an evil intent for the weapon.
I guess I should begin my review with discussion of "Now" or "Just a few days from now" which is when the James Bond books and movies reside. When, Moonraker was written, the concept of England building her own ICBM made sense. By the time the movie was made, twenty-four years later, the original concept no longer applies and the movie's adaptation to a space race concept actually makes a good bit of sense. The laser battle makes no sense but, ignoring that part, I can actually see why they did what they did for it.
As to the book itself, it actually is a pretty decently knitted thriller and we are starting to see the Ian Fleming's "Bond formula" come together. There's no real twist. Drax is obviously the villain and it's just a matter of the what and why rather than the who. Though to be honest, I figured those both out very early on in the process as well. But the book moves briskly, Bond is continually being thrashed in a way that's probably beyond normally sustainable for a human, but that's okay, because he at least takes his lashings. I could get into some other reasons why I enjoyed the novel, but it's best left for the reader.
Unlike the previous two volumes, I'd recommend this one.
Agent James Bond is back in his second novel, taking on an American gangster, Mr. Big, who is secretly an agent for the Soviets. Mr. Big influences hiAgent James Bond is back in his second novel, taking on an American gangster, Mr. Big, who is secretly an agent for the Soviets. Mr. Big influences his subordinates by adopting voodoo affectations as he smuggles gold from a lost pirate treasure in the Caribbean to the United States to fund his nefarious activities. Bond and his friend, CIA Agent Felix Leiter, are on the case to try and take him down. Along the way, Bond meets Mr. Big's seer, the beautiful and exotic Solitaire, who has something very different in mind for our hero.
When reading the classic Ian Fleming novels, it's important to remember the time in which it was written. In that regard, the 1950s, there's a certain amount of acceptance for behavior that is not acceptable today.
Surprisingly, I'm not talking about Bond bedding everything that moves, but rather a general casual racism that infects the novel from the first briefing onward. While there's no intentional malice behind the racism, it's more just a generally accepted understanding among the characters from which a contemporary reader would understandably reel.
So, despite the fact that a number of great Bond-movie setpieces from movies not named Live and Let Die are pulled from this book, I can't recommend it to the general audience. For one who wants to understand the social conventions of the 1950s and not just read a novel about the social conventions of the 1950s, this is a diverting work. But if you just want a spy thriller, go read something else without the racism.
Leaving us with a puzzle at the end of the last volume, Nagaru Tanigawa quickly clouds the issue further, where Souji's relationship with his brotherLeaving us with a puzzle at the end of the last volume, Nagaru Tanigawa quickly clouds the issue further, where Souji's relationship with his brother is not all that it seems.
Yet more confusing is a (possible?) dream sequence which may reveal some of the history of the Kushiki family. Suffice to say, this potentially changes most of what we have read so far and leaves multiple possibilities for the future direction of the story.
Parts of it remain disturbing and even more of it is confusing, but I'm willing to follow it further, just to see where it goes....more
An intriguing, disturbing, first volume of a suspense manga in which a teenager returns home to discover three students at his new school have recentlAn intriguing, disturbing, first volume of a suspense manga in which a teenager returns home to discover three students at his new school have recently been murdered.
Filled with disturbing subtext that eventually turns to dark family secrets, Amnesia Labyrinth is aimed for a more mature audience than that of Nagaru Tanigawa's more famous work, the Haruhi Susumiya series. Indeed, some content is probably not what parents want even their high schoolers seeing, even though they almost undoubtedly have.
Still, it has tremendous potential. The storytelling is nuanced and the art, while unchallenging, is well plotted and conveys the action well. A great start to what I hope will be a great series....more
This, "bit of fluff," as Mark Gatiss calls it is arguably the essence of fun. It's not at all deep, but spreads a sense of elan and style over a paperThis, "bit of fluff," as Mark Gatiss calls it is arguably the essence of fun. It's not at all deep, but spreads a sense of elan and style over a paper-thin typical Bondian thriller plot. Plus it's further rewarding if you get the heavily layered puns strewn throughout the work.
Think of it as a smarter Austin Powers. Just as crass, but smarter....more
Sam Eastland's affable first book of an investigator in Stalin-era Russia is an interesting, if prediThis was a book I won in a First Read's giveaway.
Sam Eastland's affable first book of an investigator in Stalin-era Russia is an interesting, if predictable, read.
For a "thriller," the novel is noticeably lacking in thrills. The first four-fifths contains no sign of an adversary as the hero and his cohort extensively investigate the Romanov's disappearance with no resistance at all. "Chill[s}" likewise are noticeably absent from this formulaic murder investigation. Until very late in the book, there is no clock to race against, no threat against which the heroes must fight, just a simple question, most of which is answered very early on.
Additionally, unlike Soviet authors of the time period Eastland writes about, surroundings and characters are sparsely described, leaving much to be filled in by the reader's memory and imagination. At a brief 265 pages, it will not take up much of your time. Of those 265 pages, a significant portion is taken up with flashbacks developing Pekkala's character. Eastland is allegedly working on a follow-up volume, but I'm not sure what he'll have to say.
Eastland does illustrate some things well: the absurd nature of Stalin's propaganda, the doomed resignation of a populace too exhausted to be scared, the underlying absence of logic in a completely dysfunctional system. Indeed, Eastland provides a great example of Stalinist Russia without the reader having to know the significance of a character's buttons going missing.
Still, one wonders where Eastland is going with this series. By the end, the intriguing Pekkala has made a decision that has me curious to see what Eastland will do. Is a proverbial deal with the devil going to be shown for what it is, or will Eastland sanitize history for the sake of entertainment? I'd be willing to give the second book a shot to find out....more
Mark Gatiss' second go at the Lucifer Box character isn't as entertaining as the first, but provides an amusing distraction nonetheless.
Abandoning theMark Gatiss' second go at the Lucifer Box character isn't as entertaining as the first, but provides an amusing distraction nonetheless.
Abandoning the dawn of the 20th century Edwardian trappings of Empire from The Vesuvius Club, this book finds Box in a post Great War funk. Down on his luck, art has moved on, beginning to feel his age, and challenged by a younger rival, Box is tasked by his superiors to investigate the fascist agitator Olympus Mons. But Mons has greater ambitions than the standard purity shtick.
Full of Gatiss' rich reclamation of period appropriate language, the initial foray is disorienting and it takes time for the reader to pick up the rhythm. Once settled, this narrative takes on a life of its own and provides additional benefit.
In retrospect, it's hard not to view Box as a representation of Great Britain herself. In this volume, Box is past his prime and humbled by the events of World War I. Yet he's still got the fighting spirit and can keep up his end in things.
The plot, on the other hand, doesn't hold up as well in this volume. Without revealing spoilers, the twist breaks with the conventions of the form so much as to be suspender snapping. It just doesn't jive as a whole. There may be reasons for it, related to works of the era, but I'm not familiar with the period enough to know what Gatiss might be getting at.
Still, Gatiss' dialogue and narration provide light passing entertainment, despite its flaws....more
A interesting combination of the spy thriller with Lovecraftian horror and a bit of Stephenson techno-fiction. The book is a SF bookclub edition of twA interesting combination of the spy thriller with Lovecraftian horror and a bit of Stephenson techno-fiction. The book is a SF bookclub edition of two individually released novels, The Atrocity Archives and The Jennifer Morgue.
The first is the stronger of the two, cleverly integrating the genres while still reminding you of their strengths. It has both the mystique and thrills of Charles Stross' preferred Len Deighton spy novels, combined with the disturbing horror you'd find in a H.P. Lovecraft story. I'd honestly five star this book as a stand alone. Particularly rewarding is the backstory The Concrete Jungle, which won a Hugo.
The second is not as good a book, losing much of the horror nature of the first, while adopting a more humorous, perhaps satirical, look at a popular British movie character, with a bit more intelligence than an Austin Powers movie. Still, I missed the more disturbing aspects found in the first book, even if this one made me smile a little more. Three stars for this one, yielding a four star overall grade. ...more