Guide to James Bond

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Whisked through immigration courtesy of the FBI, Bond is taken to the St Regis hotel, where he meets up with Felix Leiter again. Back in London, Bond had been summoned by M who explained that seventeenth-century gold coins, possibly part of a haul taken by Henry Morgan, the pirate, had been turning up in Florida and Harlem. M believes that the money is being used to sponsor Soviet espionage in the US. The man responsible is a Haitian named Mr Big. He was bringing the coins into St Petersburg on the Gulf coast of Florida from a small island off the north coast of Jamaica on his yacht, the Secatur. He covered his activities by posing as the head of a voodoo cult that believe he is Baron Samedi, a leader of the “living dead”. Mr Big is also a Soviet agent.

Leiter and the FBI do their best to Americanize Bond, dressing him in American clothes and teaching him the rudiments of the language. Meanwhile Bond mugs up on voodoo, reading The Traveller’s Tree by Ann Fleming’s friend Patrick Leigh Fermor, a book that had been recommended by M. During breakfast, a parcel is delivered. Bond hears it ticking and dives behind a chair. It explodes.

Bond and Leiter go up to Harlem to investigate and end up watching a stripper from a booth in one of Mr Big’s nightclubs. At the climax of her act, the lights go out. Bond and Leiter are grabbed as their booth disappears downward on a hydraulic lift. They put up a fight, but Leiter is badly beaten while Bond – “the Limey” – is taken away to see Mr Big.

Bond is interrogated with the help of a beautiful white woman named Solitaire, who Mr Big intends to marry. She is supposed to be psychic. Bond denies that he has come to the US to assassinate Mr Big. Surprisingly, Solitaire confirms that he is speaking the truth. Mr Big then orders his bodyguard Tee-Hee to break the little finger on Bond’s left hand, but decides not to kill Bond. On his way out Bond takes his revenge on Tee-Hee, kicking him down a flight of stairs with a steel-capped shoe and taking his gun. He shoots several more black men while making his escape. Mr Big is sure to be after Bond now. So to get out of New York in one piece, Bond is instructed to take the train – the Silver Phantom – from Pennsylvania Station to St Petersburg. But before he leaves, he gets a phone call from Solitaire, begging him to take her with him. When she threatens to kill herself, he relents and tells her to meet him on the train, giving her his Pullman car number.

On the train, she tells him that Mr Big has alerted a man named The Robber to look out for him in Florida. She also explains more about voodoo and zombies, and confirms that Mr Big is working for Moscow. They kiss and she undresses, but Bond's broken finger hurts too much for him to make love to her. It also prevents him shooting the person who tries to break into their compartment.

They slip off the train at Jacksonville and take the next train to St Petersburg. There they meet up with Felix Leiter again, who tells them that, after Jacksonville, their compartment was machine-gunned and blown up. While Bond and Leiter go to investigate Ourobouros Inc. Worm and Bait factory on the wharf where the Secatur frequently docks, Solitaire is kidnapped. That night Felix returns to the Ourobouros, only to be returned to Bond half-dead after an encounter with a shark: on his body is a note saying, “He disagreed with something that ate him.”

Discovering that the Ourobouros warehouse sell sharks, Bond heads back there. Breaking in, he finds that the gold coins are being transported under the mud at the bottom of tanks containing poisonous tropical fish. He is caught by The Robber, who tries to push Bond into the shark tank where Leiter had been mauled. But Bond throws The Robber in instead.

Bond heads for Jamaica where he meets John Strangways, head of SIS in the Caribbean, and is introduced to Quarrel. The best swimmer and fisherman in the Caribbean, he gives Bond training in scuba diving and Bond swims through shark- and barracuda-infested water out to Mr Big’s island. There he puts a limpet mine with a time fuse on the hull of the Secatur. He finds the entrance to the underwater cave where Captain Morgan’s treasure was hidden, then goes after Solitaire. But Mr Big is waiting for him.

Bond and Solitaire are tied together and dragged through the water behind Mr Big’s yacht. His aim is to drag them across a shallow coral reef that will tear the flesh from their bodies. Their blood in the water would then attract the sharks and barracuda, which would devour them. Just seconds before they reach the reef, the limpet mine explodes, Mr Big is blown into the water and is eaten by the sharks and barracuda. Bond and Solitaire return to Jamaica where M cables, granting him two weeks' “passionate leave”.

The novel has been criticized for its racism. Indeed Fleming calls Mr Big and his African-American henchmen “negroes”. He even uses the chapter title “Nigger Heaven”. While Fleming showed no personal animosity towards black people, counting them among his friends in Jamaica, he was a man of his time and he was writing in 1953, an unenlightened era. But times were changing. Even the unswervingly Edwardian M says: “…the negro races are just beginning to throw up geniuses in all the professions – scientists, doctors, writers. It’s about time they turned out a great criminal.”

Moonraker (1955)

The next novel Moonraker finds Bond back in England, where the multimillionaire Sir Hugo Drax is posing as a super-patriot. At his own expense, Drax is building a rocket that could carry a nuclear warhead to almost any capital city in Europe – the ultimate deterrent to anyone who tries to drop an atomic bomb on London. It is called the Moonraker. But M has a problem. Drax cheats at cards – and he has to be stopped.

Bond goes to Blades, where he and M play Drax at bridge. Bond puts Drax at ease by staging a show of getting drunk. However, he adds Benezedrine to his champagne to keep alert. Bond notices that Drax deals the cards over a shiny cigarette case he leaves on the table so that he can read them. Even though he is losing, Bond ups the stakes, then by sleight of hand substitutes a deck he has stacked earlier. Drax loses £15,000 and warns Bond to spend the money quickly.

When a security officer working on the Moonraker project is murdered, Bond is assigned to replace him at the rocket site which is on the Kent coast between Dover and Deal, near where Fleming had a country cottage. There Bond meets the attractive Gala Brand, a Special Branch agent working undercover as Drax’s assistant. Bond catches Drax’s henchman Krebs snooping in his room. Then, when Bond and Gala take a walk under the cliffs, they are almost killed in a rock fall.

Gala discovers that the trajectory co-ordinates she has been given for the rocket are not the same as those in a notebook she purloins from Drax’s pocket. But she is caught and locked in a London flat that contains a homing beacon for the missile. When Gala does not turn up for a dinner date, Bond goes after Drax, who is taking Gala, bound in the back of his car, to Kent. Bond gives chase. But after an accident that writes off his Bentley, Bond is captured too.

It turns out that Drax, rather than being a British patriot, is in fact an ex-Nazi, hell-bent on extracting his revenge for the fall of the Third Reich. With the help of the Soviets, who have supplied a nuclear warhead, Drax is going to destroy London with Moonraker.

Bond and Gala are imprisoned in the silo under the rocket where no trace will be left of them once the engines have been ignited. But they manage to escape and change the rocket’s gyros back to their original settings, so that it will fall harmlessly into the middle of the North Sea. Believing London is about to be destroyed, Drax is making his escape in Soviet submarine when he is hit by the nuclear warhead as the submarine sails through the original target area.

After being debriefed by M, Bond intends to take Gala off for a holiday on the continent in his new Bentley. But she has other plans: she is to marry someone else the following day. It is the only time in any of the novels that Bond does not get the girl.

Diamonds Are Forever (1956)

Bond has no such trouble in Diamonds Are Forever, which begins with two men from the diamond mines in Sierra Leone waiting for a helicopter to land at night. They hand the pilot a package.

After a two-week holiday in France – apparently alone – Bond is assigned to infiltrate a smuggling ring that has been running diamonds stolen from mines in Africa to the United States. Posing as gentleman burglar Peter Franks, Bond meets Tiffany Case, half-naked in her hotel room, who offers to pay him £5,000 to carry diamonds hidden in golf balls from London to New York. She, in turn, takes her instructions by telephone from a mysterious figure known only as ABC.

Washington believes that the diamonds are being run for the Spangled Mob, a gang run by mobsters Jack and Seraffimo Spang. After Bond delivers the diamonds, he is told that he can collect his money by betting on a rigged horse race at Saratoga. Pinkerton agent Felix Leiter, who left the CIA after losing an arm and a leg in Live and Let Die, then fixes the race so that the arranged horse does not win. Consequently, Bond is sent to Las Vegas where he is to be paid off in a crooked blackjack game in the Tiara Hotel, which is owned by the Spang twins.

The dealer at the blackjack table is Tiffany Case. Bond takes his money, but then moves to the roulette table and walks out with $200,000. Las Vegas Pinkerton man and cab driver Ernie Cureo tells Bond that, as well as the Tiara Hotel, Seraffimo Spang also owns an old Western ghost town called Spectreville. (Despite its determinedly British spelling, it has no connection to SPECTRE which does not appear until Thunderball.) Spang has turned it into a private vacation retreat, complete with a nineteenth-century railroad train called the Cannonball. But hoodlums are on their tail and, after a car chase, Bond is captured and taken out to Spectreville, where he is unmasked as an agent and given a “Brooklyn stomping”. With Tiffany’s help, he escapes and together they flee down the railway line on a handcart. The Cannonball comes after them, but they switch it on to a branch line. Bond shoots Spang as the Cannonball crashes into a rock at the end of the line.

Tiffany and Bond then take a romantic cruise from New York back to London on the Queen Elizabeth. But two of Spang’s henchmen, Wint and Kidd, are on the liner. They grab Tiffany – they have orders to kill her. Bond rescues her and kills the two henchmen, making it look like a murder/suicide.

The mysterious ABC turns out to be Jack Spang, who Bond had come across when he was working under the pseudonym Rufus B. Saye in London’s Hatton Garden. He turns up on the helicopter in West Africa to close down the pipeline – by shooting the two men from the diamond mines. Bond turns up with a detachment of soldiers and a Bofors gun and blows Spang and the helicopter out of the sky.
From Russia With Love (1957)

Bond and Tiffany lived together for a few months, though she was out of his life by the time we meet Bond in From Russia With Love. The book begins with SMERSH assassin Donovan “Red” Grant, a British defector, lying naked beside the swimming pool of his villa in the Crimea, being massaged by a topless girl. The phone rings and he is ordered to Moscow where a top-level meeting of SMERSH is being held. They identify James Bond as the man who has thwarted them – in France in Casino Royale, in England in Moonraker and in the US in Live and Let Die – and sign his death warrant. Its execution is put in the hands of Colonel Rosa Klebb. Women, it is decided, are Bond’s weakness. So the beautiful Corporal Tatiana Romanova is employed as bait.

Tatiana is terrified when she is summoned to Klebb’s apartment one evening. She is treated to French champagne and Swiss chocolates, and asked about her sex life. She is told that she must fall in love with an English spy and is shown Bond’s picture. Rosa Klebb then disappears into the bedroom and returns in a see-through nightgown. Tatiana flees.

When Red Grant turns up in Klebb’s office, he is told to strip naked. She examines him, then suddenly punches him in the solar plexus with a knuckleduster. When he does not flinch, he is told that he is to kill an English spy. It is decided that the assassination must take place in France, or nearby, as the French press would make the most of the story.

In London, Bond is ruing the loss of Tiffany, who has left him and gone back to America. He is bored when he is summoned by M. A message has come from Darko Kerim, head of Station T in Istanbul, saying that a Soviet cipher clerk named Tatiana Romanov has seen Bond’s picture in his file, fallen in love with him and wishes to defect. She says that she will bring a Spektor cipher machine, which the British are desperate to get their hands on – on the condition that Bond comes out to Istanbul to collect her.

Bond flies to Istanbul where he forms an instant friendship with Darko Kerim, who takes him through an underground tunnel he uses to spy on the Soviet Consulate. Here Bond first glimpses Tatiana and is smitten. That evening, Kerim takes Bond for dinner with some gypsies. Two gypsy girls have a cat-fight, tearing off each other’s clothes. The camp is attacked by Bulgarian hit men and in the ensuing gunfight, Bond saves Kerim’s life. They then go and kill the man who ordered the attack. Returning to his hotel room, Bond finds Tatiana in his bed, naked except for silk stockings and a black velvet ribbon around her neck. She insists that, instead of flying back to London, they take the Orient Express. Then they make love. Meanwhile, behind a two-way mirror, two men from SMERSH are filming them.

The following day, Tatiana arrives at the station with the Spektor machine and chides Bond for being more interested in the machine than in her. For a moment he feels a pang of guilt, but there is little time for such feelings. On the train are three Soviet agents. With trickery and bribery, Kerim gets two of them taken off the train at the Greek border. But the remaining Soviet agent stabs Kerim, who uses his dying strength to stab and kill his assassin.

At Trieste, a man purporting to come from the Secret Service gets on. He introduces himself as Captain Norman Nash. Tatiana does not trust him, but collapses, drugged. Bond is tricked into handing over his Beretta. Nash shoots at him with a gun concealed in a copy of War and Peace. The bullet ricochets off Bond’s Rolex. Nash then introduces himself as the chief executioner of SMERSH – Red Grant. He looks at his watch. They have twenty minutes before they reach the Simplon Tunnel where he has been ordered to kill Bond – so he has plenty of time to explain the plot and reveal that he has to report to Rosa Klebb in the Ritz Hotel in Paris. That done, he pulls the trigger and Bond falls. But the bullet has hit his cigarette case, not his heart. As Grant goes to kill Tatiana, Bond grabs one of the knives Q has hidden in his attaché case and stabs Grant, finishing him off with his own book-gun.

In the Paris Ritz Bond keeps Grant’s appointment with Klebb. She tries to kill him, finally slashing him with a poisoned blade concealed in her shoe.
Dr No (1958)

In Dr No, we learn from the eminent neurologist Sir James Molony that Klebb used tetrodoxin from the Japanese fugu fish to poison Bond. This paralyses the muscles, leaving the victim conscious but unable to breathe; he will die of asphyxiation. Fortunately Mathis from the Deuxième Bureaux was on hand to give Bond artificial respiration and the doctor summoned had been in South America and was familiar with curare, which has similar properties. Bond was now physically fit but needed a holiday. Fortunately an opportunity for a little rest and relaxation at the department’s expense had presented itself.

The Secret Service’s man in Jamaica John Strangways and his number two, Mary Trueblood had been killed by some mysterious Chigroes – half black, half Chinese – and their bodies disposed of in a reservoir. But M thinks they may have run off together and sends Bond to investigate as a holiday assignment. First he is forced to replace his Beretta .25 with a Walther PPK. In Jamaica, he learns that Strangways was investigating the activities of Dr Julius No, a reclusive German-Chinese who lives on an island called Crab Key where several unexplained deaths have been attributed to a dragon said to live there. No makes money by exporting guano (seabird dung that is used as fertilizer).

Bond soon realizes that he is being watched. His room has been searched. A basket of fruit arrives, purportedly a present from the governor. Bond examines the fruit and discovers that it has been poisoned. Later, he awakes to find a deadly centipede crawling across him in bed. After he kills it with his shoe, he is violently sick.

Believing Dr No to be responsible, Bond sails out to Crab Key with his old friend Quarrel. On the beach, he sees a beautiful young woman, naked except for a belt carrying a hunting knife around her waist. When he surprises her, she covers her pudendum with one hand. But instead of covering her breasts with her other arm she covers her nose, which has been broken. Her name is Honeychile Rider. She explains that she comes out to the island to hunt for shells, which she sells for a living.

A gunboat appears. As they make their way inland they are pursued by the “dragon” – which turns out to be a tractor armed with a flame-thrower, painted to look like a mythical beast. Quarrel is incinerated; Bond and Honeychile captured. Dr No’s back story is that he stole money from the Tongs, who cut his hands off, and shot him. He was saved because he is one of those rare individuals who have their heart on the right side of their body. In place of hands, he is now equipped with two steel pincers.

He tells Bond that he is employed by the Soviets to sabotage US missile tests, using radio signals from Crab Key to throw them off course. No is also interested in the ability of the human body to withstand and survive pain and stress. He forces Bond to crawl and climb through an obstacle course inside a section of his lair’s ventilation system. Bond is kept under regular observation and encounters electric shocks, burns and poisonous spiders along the way. The course ends in an inlet where a giant squid is trapped. Bond uses his ingenuity and physical toughness, along with objects that he had the foresight to steal to use as weapons, to defeat the squid.

Bond then kills Dr No by taking over the guano-loading machine at the docks and burying him alive in bird droppings. Meanwhile Honeychile has undergone her own ordeal. She had been pegged out naked at night to be eaten by crabs, but she knew the crabs would leave her alone if she lay perfectly still. When they disappeared into their holes in the morning, she had wriggled free.

Bond and Honey escape from Dr No’s complex on the tractor-dragon and are rescued by the Navy. Then Bond telegrams M requesting more sick leave, and spends the time making love to Honey.
Goldfinger (1959)

Despite this pleasant interlude, by the beginning of Goldfinger, Honeychile is forgotten. However, according to Pearson’s Authorised Biography, Bond is still with Honeychile years later when he is in his fifties. She is wealthy by then and he is planning to resign from the Secret Service and marry her, but in the end cannot help accepting one further assignment.

Goldfinger begins with Bond in reflective mood. In the departure lounge of Miami Airport, he has two double bourbons and is thinking about the Mexican drug dealer he has just killed. After a third double, he bumps into Mr Du Pont – Bond had sat next to Du Pont and his wife at the game against Le Chiffre in Casino Royale. Over more drinks, Du Pont explains that he had been playing two-handed canasta against the multimillionaire Auric Goldfinger; he suspects Goldfinger of cheating, and employs Bond to investigate. Bond discovers that Goldfinger’s “companion”, Jill Masterton has been using binoculars to observe Du Pont’s hand. She then radios the cards to a receiver in the hearing aid Goldfinger is wearing. Bond uses the radio link to threaten to expose Goldfinger unless he pays Du Pont back the money he has cheated him out of, along with a fee for himself. For good measure, he makes Goldfinger book a compartment on the train to New York – complete with caviar and champagne – for Jill and himself.

Back in London, the Bank of England has approached the Secret Service to investigate the smuggling of gold being England to India. Goldfinger is suspected. M is interested because he believes that Goldfinger acts as the banker of SMERSH’s foreign operations. Bond is assigned to investigate. Goldfinger is back in England now and Bond gets involved in a high-stakes game of golf with him. Goldfinger cheats by switching balls, but Bond beats him at his own game and wins the match.

Goldfinger invites Bond to dinner in his home in Kent, where he sees armour plating being riveted on to Golfinger’s Rolls-Royce. He also meets Goldfinger’s Korean “handyman” Oddjob, who gives an impressive display of karate. And he demonstrates his metal-brimmed bowler hat which is a lethal weapon.

Having fitted a radio beacon to Goldfinger’s Rolls-Royce, Bond follows him across France and sees him making a dead-letter drop with a gold bar, before he heads on to Switzerland. Bond also notes that a girl in a Triumph TR3 was shadowing Goldfinger. He deliberately runs into her car to delay her. But she insists that he give her a lift to Geneva. Once he has dropped her off, Bond tracks Goldfinger to a small factory on the road to Lausanne. There he sees men stripping the armour plating off Goldfinger’s Rolls. It is, in fact, gold and is being melted down to be made into the frames of seats for an Indian airline so that it can be smuggled to the subcontinent.

Bond returns to the factory that night to collect evidence and again bumps into the girl with the Triumph. She has a rifle and has come to kill Goldfinger. It turns out that she is Tilly Masterson and Goldfinger has killed her sister Jill. When Jill had returned to Miami after her trip to New York with Bond, Goldfinger had her painted all over with gold. This clogged her pores and she died. Bond suffers pangs of guilt, figuring Goldfinger had killed her because Bond had taken her away with him. He too swore revenge. But before they can take their vengeance, Tilly and Bond are captured. Bond is tortured, strapped spreadeagled to the platform of a circular saw. As the saw approaches, he holds his breath until he passes out. When he comes round, he discovers that he and Tilly have been drugged and flown to the US: here Goldfinger forces them to work for him. He intends to rob Fort Knox. To pull this off, he assembles an army of mobsters from across the US. These include the Spangled Mob, last seen in Diamonds Are Forever, and Pussy Galore with her lesbian gang, the Cement Mixers.

Goldfinger’s plan is to add a nerve agent to the water supply to knock out the armoured division guarding the bullion depository. Using an atomic warhead he had bought, he will break into the vault, then take the gold out of the country on a Soviet cruiser that is making a goodwill visit to the naval base at Norfolk, Virginia.

On a reconnaissance flight over Fort Knox, Bond hides a note in the lavatory offering the cleaner $5,000 reward to contact Felix Leiter at Pinkerton’s with details of the plan. Leiter turns up with the army and foils the robber. But Tilly is killed with Oddjob’s bowler, while Goldfinger and his crew escape.

After a red-carpet reception in Washington, Bond heads back to the UK. But at Idlewild, he is drugged and taken aboard a Stratocruiser stolen from BOAC – British Overseas Airways Corporation, which was amalgamated with British European Airways to form British Airways in 1974. It is also taking Goldfinger and what remains of his bullion to Moscow. Using a knife concealed in the heel of his shoe, Bond breaks a window. The cabin depressurizes and Oddjob is sucked out. In a struggle, Bond strangles Goldfinger. He ordered the pilot to ditch the plane near a weather ship. On board, Bond finally beds Pussy Galore.

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