Stephen's Reviews > Goldfinger

Goldfinger by Ian Fleming
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Dec 13, 09

Read in July, 2009

Just reread this classic, probably the first Bond title I owned.

Fleming, whose Bond novels vary widely in quality and consistency, was in spectacular form here. The iconic characters Goldfinger, the fabulously rich criminal mastermind, and his henchman Oddjob are very fully realized figures of malevolence. Bond is depicted herein as a tough but thoughtful man, frequently ruminating about the death with which his profession surrounds him (and he himself is often the cause of).

The action is somewhat sparer than the film version, but the suspense is heightened significantly. The opening chapters consist of an extended cat and mouse game as Bond tails Goldfinger in an effort to discover how he is smuggling millions in gold out of England. During these developments, Fleming even manages to make the game of golf a nail-biting affair.

The two things that stuck out as vaguely negative about the book, which I would put at or near the top of the Bond canon, are:

1) Written in 1959, the book is insanely un-PC, and Fleming reveals himself to be a rather crude individual. Oddjob, a Korean, is frequently referred to as an ape, animal, etc., and at one point is rewarded with a cat to cook for dinner! Goldfinger is suspected of being a Jew, and this is definitely considered a distasteful characteristic by the authorities intent on bringing him to justice (and probably the author, as well);

2) Much of the book's plot, though well thought out and crisply written was actually much more economically delivered in the film version - which itself is iconic for the same reasons the novel is, to my mind anyway, and the best of all the Bond movies. When Bond encounters a pivotal character or performs an action that will further the proceedings, I kept finding myself thinking how easily the film made such transitions.

This last issue is a minor gripe, particularly when one considers that most people, myself included, discover the Bond books long after they've seen the films. In this case, both versions are top-notch Bond.
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