Friday, 15 January 2016

From Russia with Love by Ian Fleming (3/5)

First published: 1957
Page count: 268
The back says: James Bond is marked for death by the Soviet counterintelligence agency SMERSH in Ian Fleming’s masterful spy thriller, and the novel that President John F. Kennedy named one of his favorite books of all time.

SMERSH stands for “Death to Spies” and there’s no secret agent they’d like to disgrace and destroy more than 007, James Bond. But ensnaring the British Secret Service’s most lethal operative will require a lure so tempting even he can’t resist. Enter Tatiana Romanova, a ravishing Russian spy whose “defection” springs a trap designed with clockwork precision. Her mission: seduce Bond, then flee to the West on the Orient Express. Waiting in the shadows are two of Ian Fleming’s most vividly drawn villains: Red Grant, SMERSH’s deadliest assassin, and the sinister operations chief Rosa Klebb — five feet four inches of pure killing power.

I say: I can’t stand James Bond, as can be told by previous reviews and will not even comment on his character. Thankfully, this is the last of the novels I have to read for the 100 Classics Challenge.

Why there had to be so many of them, I’ll never know...

The first part of this instalment is dedicated to SMERSH and the reasons they want Bond dead. We are introduced to the main players of the organisation and find out the story behind the assassin Red Grant, as well as the spy, Tatiana Romanova, who is sent to entrap Bond. All of this I found immensely interesting and it is only when Bond is introduced to the story, about one third into the novel, that my interest started to wane.


As per usual.

Bond, being so focussed on bedding Tatiana agrees to take the train from Istanbul to Paris for 4 nights rather than flying straight to London. That in itself is one of the silliest plot devices I have ever read, but makes perfect sense since Bond is a fucking asshole Fleming needed a reason to create some form of drama and suspense.


Of course, there are Russians on the train. Of course Bond survives in the most ludicrous of ways. Of course, of course, of course...

3/5 because I figure that since a third of the book was rather good, I’d be generous. 

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