With 'From Russia With Love' I thought I'd reached a book which would be close to the film. As such I was somewhat surprised by the first 100 or so Bond-less pages. And yet, that opening worked very well. Fleming has spent the last four books building up the character of James Bond, and so can take time away to show the rest of his universe. Besides, much like Harry Lime in the film of 'The Third Man', the fact he's constantly being talked about means he's actually always there.
This is the best of the Bonds I've read so far, a thriller that captures time and place and still manages to be unceasingly thrilling. Eventually the book did start to match my memory of the film, but it became no less exciting. In fact I prefered the Bond in this to Connery. He is wearier, more bruised and I thought - with Tiffany Case having left him, and Tatiana Romanova arriving in his bed - that he is almost ready to fall in love.
Is there anything to be read into the fact that Red Grant is reading 'The Little Nugget' by P.G. Wodehouse, while Bond is reading 'The Mask of Dimitrios' by Eric Ambler?
A story I heard was that in the early 80s Lotte Lenya - who played Rosa Klebb in the film - spied Sean Connery on a New York street, and without a word walked up and kicked him as hard as she could in the shin.