Ian Fleming,
Dr. No
(Jonathan Cape/Macmillan, 1958;
Penguin, 2002)

Doctor No was the first of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels to be made into a film, and it's easy to see why. The lush tropical setting, dangerous situations and the beautiful woman to rescue and seduce are all hallmarks of Bond films. As a book, it stands on its own as an adventure novel worth reading.

Bond has recently recovered from a very difficult mission. He is still emotionally and physically drained, although his more obvious wounds have healed. So, when M offers to send him to Jamaica for what appears to be a routine mission -- to investigate missing agents -- he agrees, and has an old friend, Quarrel, meet him to set up his plans and get him back into shape.

Despite the fact that the local police seem oblivious to the foul play that removed the agents, Bond discovers possible connections between their disappearance and the mysterious Doctor No. However, each time he gets close to real evidence, something odd happens. Files go missing, informants mysteriously disappear, and when Bond and Quarrel pull a bait-and-switch with their car, the men they switch with are killed in a crash. All of this sets Bond's finely honed intuition tingling.

At the center of it all is Doctor No and his guano farm/bird sanctuary island. Bond and Quarrel sneak onto the island and discover the beautiful Honeychile, the required beautiful yet competent girl. Her purpose on the island is simple and straightforward -- she is harvesting shells to sell to tourists. However, once caught by Doctor No's minions, she throws her lot in with Bond.

Of course, Bond comes through, though he goes through extraordinary tortures and trials at the hands of Doctor No. For those who enjoy the Bond movies or spy novels of any kind, this classic of the genre is an excellent addition to the collection.

- Rambles
written by Beth Derochea
published 14 June 2003

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