Sunday, January 15, 2012

Casino Royale by ian Fleming (1953)


About the book: In the first of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, 007 declares war on Le Chiffre, French communist and paymaster of the Soviet murder organization SMERSH.

      The battle begins with a fifty-million-franc game of baccarat, gains momentum during Bond's fiery love affair with a sensuous lady spy, and reaches a chilling climax with fiendish torture at the hands of a master sadist. For incredible suspense, unexpected thrills, and extraordinary danger, nothing can beat James Bond in his inaugural adventure.

First line: The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning.

My thoughts: Bond.....James Bond. I chose to read this, the first installment in the 007 series by Ian Fleming, for the Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge and enjoyed it. At 192 pages it is a very short book with little room for building characters or for a very deep story. The first half of the book at least is about Baccarat and the nearly silent battle between Bond and Le Chiffre at the Baccarat Table. It might not seem too exciting but Fleming does a great job of describing the game, characters feelings and building tension. The second half of the story seems to almost be another book. The action stems from the conclusion of the card game. The torture of Bond you saw in the movie is described in horrid detail here. The treachery of Vesper Lynd, if I hadn't seen the movie, may have been a twist or surprise. If you are used to the movies you will find that there is comparatively little action here.

This is for sure a product of its time with plenty of hard drinking and lots of smoking. This is also evident in Chapter 15 when Bond speaks against the feminist movement after Vesper is kidnapped.

I recommend this is you want to read a great vintage spy story.

Quote: This made me laugh so I had to use it. It is the only light moment I can remember from this book. (from Bond about CIA agent Felix Leiter) Bond reflected that good Americans were fine people and that most of them seemed to come from Texas.

The Vesper Martini

3 oz Gordon’s Gin
1 oz Vodka
0.5 oz (Kina) Lillet Blanc

Challenges:
100+ 2012
Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge



5 comments:

Bev Hankins said...

It's been a long time since I read this one...about 25 years or so, I think. I need to read a Bond book for one of my challenges. I haven't decided if I want to refresh my memory on this one or read From Russia With Love.

Great entry for the Vintage challenge!

John said...

Nicely done concise review. I like the cocktail recipe! I'm going to start doing that for the Jonas Wilde books I'm reviewing. He drinks odd concoctions like a Bijou and the Moscow Mule.

I tried to read Casino Royale three times. Once when I was teenager when I found a stash of Bond books in my oldest brother's bedroom after he got married and left our home. I never finished it. Thought it boring. I tried again when I was in my 20s still thought it boring. And the last time only a few years ago. To date I have never finished it and I don't think it's worth trying a fourth time. BUT! That movie with Daniel Craig was the best Bond movie in a long, long time. It still is one of my favorite thrillers in recent memory.

neer said...

Hi Sharon. I think I've only read one Bond book till date and never seen any of the movies. Your review wants me to pick up this one.

I too am enjoying the Vintage Mystery Challenge greatly.

Carol said...

This has been on my to-read list for a while. Glad you enjoyed it.

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