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FOR YOUR EYES ONLY By Ian Fleming – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2011 by stanleyriiks

I love James Bond, he’s my hero, a womanising action man, with a license to kill and an adventurous lifestyle. I love Ian Fleming too. Bond’s creator lived almost as exciting a life, although he was incredibly human in his weaknesses and failures, whereas Bond is the perfection of Fleming’s misdeeds.

What gets me every time I pick up a Bond book is the writing, the richness, the sheer imaginative grace that exudes from every sentence. There is a vibrancy in Fleming’s work that makes you forget about some of the ridiculous plots, the super villains, and the vehicles turned into dragons (Dr. No).

I still consider the Bond books the essential step away from pulp and into the modern thriller, they are the (not so) missing-link between the pulp action crime thrillers such as The Spider, and the cold-war heroes of the seventies and eighties, Bourne et al. The not quite perfect combination of action, hi-jink, over-the-top entertainment, and that essential ingredient, realism.

The eighth book in the series, For Your Eyes Only is the first short story collection, featuring some familiar titles such as the title story, and “Quantum of Solace” and “A View To A Kill”, and two other less familiar titles. Although the stories contained in the books will be much less familiar, having little or nothing to do with the films that followed.

An incredible collection of tales, diverse and entertaining in their own ways, each of the stories stands out as individual and unique. Bond works so well in short fiction, but only rarely do you get the full character of Bond, sometimes he is there merely as background such as in “Quantum of Solace”, a story told to Bond by a senior civil servant.

A nice little book at just over two hundred pages, I finished it in a couple of days and hankered for more. Not necessarily Bond at his best, but Fleming’s writing here is not as overwhelmed with fabulous plotting, and some of these stories are perfectly, brilliantly exciting. Another Bond fix that delivers.

GOLDFINGER By Ian Fleming – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2011 by stanleyriiks

After the wasted introduction we get down to the nitty gritty of a classic Bond story, as our hero meets up with a man at an airport who needs his help. Bond is happy to help out when he finds the problem is to do with a card cheat.

Solving the problems only takes a few hours, but Bond gets to meet the eponymous Goldfinger, who is doing the cheating.

Bond’s encounters with Goldfinger continue as M sends him on a fact-finding mission for the Bank of England who suspect Goldfinger is smuggling gold of the country.

Eventually Bond falls foul in his dealing with Goldfinger, because of a girl, and is enlisted into his team, transported to the US and becomes secretary in the villian’s plan to steal all the gold in Fort Knox.

This is classic Bond territory, the card games, the women, the cars, the villain. The only problem is the lack of danger. More so than the previous novels we know that Bond will win, he is able to out-smart Goldfinger at their every encounter, despite the tension and the stakes getting higher each time. Goldfinger is a clever villain, one of the richest Bond has encountered, and yet his weakness, his failure to kill Bond, is silly.

Oddjob is a scary individual, but the final showdown between the Korean and Bond is woefully inadequate. In fact the climax is weak and too simply dealt with after the excellent build up.

An inadequate introduction starts this book off poorly, and doesn’t do the book justice. Despite the fact this is not the best of the Bond books, it still manages to entertain, feeling much like a more modern pulp thriller.

It’s hard to look at the Bond book with anything other than rose-tinted glasses. Bond is an integral cultural icon, and the Fleming books started it all, but this is not the best of the Bond novels.