Friday, September 18, 2015

Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming

Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming is the second novel in the series featuring British Secret Ser­vice agent James Bond 007. I re-read this book (here is my original review) and found it to be just as exciting as the first time.

After almost being assassinated by S.M.E.R.S.H Bond wants revenge and M has the assignment for him. Gold coins are appearing in America, maybe from the pirate Bloody Morgan’s treasure; the government thinks Soviet agents are using them to further their nefarious cause.

Mr. Big, a notorious crime lord, uses voodoo as part of an elaborate plan to control his crime cartel. Mr. Big also works for S.M.E.R.S.H which gets Bond’s attention.

When one reads Live and Let Die, one must keep in his or hers mind the time it was written in. In today’s society this novel might be considered racist, but one can see how Fleming goes out of his way, most of the time, to compliment African-Americans and point out, through narrative, that they are in no way inferior to the white humans.

I believe that if the novel was updated to today’s sensitivities, very little would have to be changed (a few words here and there which are no longer acceptable). The novel, however, does give a picture of the race relations within the United States after World War II.

Mr. Fleming’s descriptions of Harlem, voodoo and thrilling adventures are as exciting as ever. The tone in this novel is grittier than its predecessor, with more action moving the story forward.
And a fight with a giant octopus.

As is in every series, we learn more about the protagonist (Bond) but reading the previous book, Casino Royale, is not necessary to enjoy this one. I thought the star of the book was Solitaire who was heroic and charming. There are several great moments from the “Bond lore” in this book, Felix Leiter saving himself by talking jazz and getting eaten by a shark afterwards, to name a few.

This short book, is fast paced, enjoyable, easy to read and showcases Fleming’s famous dark humor despite the dialogue. The narrative is entertaining and action packed but more or less pointless – however, Mr. Big’s character is fantastic, a strong African-American crime lord who steals the book.


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