REVIEW Casino Royale: Ian Fleming


After reading my first Bond novel, I thought that Daniel Craig was quite close to Fleming's notion of Bond- tough, cynical and stylish. I haven't read much spy fiction, so I can't compare it with anything else, but I came away liking the book.

Casino Royale opens with Bond at the baccarat tables, playing against the ruthless and desperate Le Chiffre. A loss could ruin Le Chiffre, treasurer for a Soviet-backed union, so MI6 sends in its best agent. The Service also has a surprise for Bond in the form of Vesper Lynd, a beautiful Treasury official. The CIA also has its hands in the till, with Felix Leiter aiding Bond. It's a dangerous game, with assassins lurking in all corners, but then, that's why 007 is on the job.

I loved Fleming's comprehensive explanation of the game of baccarat, which made even a novice like me confident enough to reckon trying my hands at the game. The gambling sequence was thrilling, to say the least, and the movies' signature tune kept playing in my head. Though not a page-turner, the book has its requisite doses of action, which happens at a reasonable pace. There weren't any high-tech gadgets like in the Brosnan movies, but I thought that helped establish Bond's credentials as a good agent. A softer side to Bond is visible during his romantic getaway with Vesper, but only for a while, as circumstances bring back the cold, distrusting person. We also see glimpses of a future nemesis in SMERSH, the lethal Soviet espionage agency. I have the next book on next month's TBR pile, so Bond will be back.

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