Title:                      Goldfinger

Author:                  Ian Fleming

Fleming, Ian (1981). Goldfinger. Geneva: Edito-Service

LCCN:    82191122

PR6056.L4 G64 1981


Date Posted:      August 10, 2015

As the seventh novel in Ian Fleming’s Bond series opens, Commander James Bond, Agent 007 of Her Majesty’s Secret Service, sits in a Miami airport waiting to fly home from his most recent assignment.

When his plane is delayed for 48 hours, Bond accepts an offer from a wealthy acquaintance to investigate whether or not the man is being cheated at cards. The pay for this small service is to be 10,000 pounds.

The man is playing cards with Auric Goldfinger, the wealthy owner of a pawnshop/metallurgical empire. Keeping careful watch on Goldfinger’s hotel room, Bond soon discovers the cheater’s method and forces him to give all of the money back. Just to rub his nose in it, Bond also whisks Goldfinger’s secretary off for a few nights of mating.

Returning to London, Bond is soon assigned to investigate Goldfinger, who, in addition to being a cheat, is also the biggest gold-smuggler in England. Goldfinger is so wealthy, in fact, that the British government fears his machinations’ effect on the nation’s gold-standard.

Tracking Goldfinger from London to Sandwich and across the Channel to the continent, Bond repeatedly crosses swords with the criminal, first over a tense game of golf, then in all-out combat at Goldfinger’s factory in Switzerland.

Captured by Goldfinger and his bodyguard Oddjob, a Korean with a black-belt in karate and the world’s deadliest piece of headgear, Bond is nonetheless able to infiltrate his nemesis’ organization and discover the truth about Goldfinger’s most audacious plot yet: with the help of the nation’s top hoodlums, a gang of beautiful lesbian thieves, and a tactical nuclear bomb, Goldfinger intends to rob $15 billion worth of gold from Fort Knox!

The review of this Book prepared by James Craver

Live and Let Die

Title:                      Live and Let Die

Author:                 Ian Fleming

Fleming, Ian (1954). Live and Let Die. London: J. Cape

LCCN:    54036543

PZ4.F598 Li



  • The second James Bond adventure; follows Casino Royale and precedes Moonraker.

Date Posted:      August 10, 2015

James Bond, on a trail of revenge from the Casino Royale, is sent to New York to get a line on Mr. Big, a Negro criminal and Soviet agent who is disbursing coins from the pirate Morgan’s treasure. Picked up and almost off in Harlem, Bond is introduced to Mr. Big’s brutal refinements, saved by his girl, Solitaire, and escapes to Florida where his associate meets a dreadful death. On to Jamaica, Bond completes his mission underwater and in spite of sharks and barracuda and Mr. Big—comes up alive. Bloodshot.

Smiley’s Circus

Title:                      Smiley’s Circus

Author:                 David Monaghan

Monaghan, David (1986). Smiley’s Circus: A Guide to The Secret World of John Le Carré. London: Orbis

LCCN:    87125872

PR6062.E33 Z79 1986b


Date Posted:      August 5, 2015

Reading John Le Carré takes work. Real work. Not a bedtime read. The first book of his I read was Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy[1], I would get completely lost in his characters and his plot line. His action is slow, almost at a snail’s pace. I got the audiobook, and listened to it. Twice. I still had difficulty. I got the DVD, and watched it, then re-read it. I think I may understand it now.

The best way to read Le Carré is to David Monaghan’s fantastic guide next to you while reading. It’s indispensable for the jargon definitions alone. Monaghan e identifies every character—even unnamed ones like “narcotics agent”—and captures the personality of each in just a few sympathetic lines from hints sometimes spread out over several books.

Monaghan maintains Le Carré’s own skeptical voice, treating all the information as if it were friendly but not completely reliable office gossip. For example, after noting that Ricki Tarr, though reckless, is nevertheless loyal and competent, Monaghan wonders almost sadly if the boy was hired back after the Haydon case. Going into great depth in the pages on George Smiley, he tries to sort out which crimes can be laid at Smiley’s feet.

One sees that in Le Carré people are largely viewpoints: “Mrs. Pope Graham considers Norman to be sensitive but for Smiley he is a grubby little voyeur.” Nevertheless facts are facts: Prideaux digs up his gun on Tuesday, not Sunday, no matter what else the novel may say.

Readers sometimes complain about Le Carré’s overly complex plots, especially in the Circus novels. This guidebook can loosen the “very clever knots,” but first-time Circus readers must beware. Any entry can contain a monstrous spoiler.

Here are some comments by Jay Berkeley:[2]

Near the Sloane Square tube station, southwest down King’s Road to Bywater StreetAcross King’s Road is Bywater Street with its pastel-coloured houses suggesting a climate more southerly than London’s. Mid-block is 9 Bywater Street. Only two fictional sites appear in this book (to the best of my knowledge!) and this is the second one. According to Smiley’s Circus by David Monaghan, this is where George Smiley and his unfaithful wife lived from about 1950 to about 1973. It is here that Ann has several affairs, usually (but not always) while George is overseas. After their separation George stays on in the house.

Some reviewers have conjectured that John le Carré (David Cornwell) modelled Smiley on Sir Maurice Oldfield, head of MI6 {between 1973 and 1978. Indeed; Smiley and Oldfield shared the same podgy and bookish appearance, the same mild and self-effacing manner, the same habit of playing with their eyeglasses. And when Alec Guinness was preparing for the television version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Cornwell introduced him to Oldfield. Guinness was fascinated by Oldfield’s mannerisms but apparently drew his interpretation of Smiley from deeper sources. Cornwell himself explains that the model for Smiley was someone else entirely, a teacher of his at Oxford.

Cornwell, however, surely based his fictional organization (The Circus) on his own experience. He had done his National Service with the British Army of Occupation in Austria; fluent in German, he was posted to Intelligence. Afterward, he taught at Eton and was a free-lance artist (illustrating Maxwell Knight’s Talking Birds, among other things), before being recruited to MI5 (possibly by Knight). He was then a case-officer for MI6 under Foreign Office cover. Not until the 1963 publication of his third novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, did he feel able to spend all his time writing.

Le Carré obviously wanted to create an alternative to Fleming’s oeuvre; le Carré’s books are more realistic, less glamorous, more novelistic. They have character development and insight. They are simply better written. But while I admire le Carré’s novels as literature, I am uneasy about his acquiescence to the notion of moral equivalence between the Western democracies and the communist dictatorships. And I am irritated by his anti-Americanism. Still, he is a good story-teller, and if one reads his works as entertainments, not documentaries, one is seldom disappointed.

[1] Le Carré, John (1974). Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. London: Hodder and Stoughton

[2] See Berkeley, Roy (1994). A Spy’s London. London: Leo Cooper, pp. 64-66