I’m not the world’s biggest James Bond fan. I’ve seen a number of the films – I can take or leave them. My favourite one is the original Casino Royale with David Niven as Bond, probably because it’s not what we might call a serious film.
I’ve only read a handful, of which my favourite is currently Moonraker, Fleming’s third novel. And I really enjoyed it. It was thrilling in a more realistic sort of a way than modern conspiracies and yet it didn’t skimp on details. Perhaps it is simply that Fleming was writing in and about the right sort of period – the Cold War presumably was quite “thrilling” for the spooks. It always seems just a bit too far-fetched in a contemporary setting. Or maybe it was just the way he spun out the whole scene at the club.
Although, I think the most exciting chapter of Moonraker was the bridge-game. In fact, that whole first section, really, was terribly exciting. I just really liked the way that Hugo Drax was suspect because he cheats at cards. Couldn’t possibly be all right if he’d do that. No proper English gentleman would ever do that! Not in his own club!
And, of course, things aren’t all right with Drax. Naturally. And Bond, having fleeced Drax with his own cheating at the bridge-table to teach him a lesson, gets to be the spook in charge.
I liked the writing style, too. It felt entirely natural, not rushed or forced, and yet the pace was perfect. Just enough to keep you turning the pages, but not so you read it at 100 mph. It had more of the slow-motion, heart-in-hand variety of thrillingness, which I do prefer to being raced through the story.
I’m going to have to watch the film (it’s one I haven’t yet seen, or don’t remember seeing) just to see how they do the cards.
I whole-heartedly recommend Moonraker. The book, at any rate.