Dr. No Book Review

Release: March 31st, 1958, Pages: 233

After the stellar and cliffhanger ending of From Russia, with Love, we finally find that Bond is okay and thankfully, everything else story wise seems to be in fine order as well. Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s read on to see if Dr. No ranks up just as highly as some of the other Bond books…

Short nitty-gritty plot description from the back cover is as follows: Dispatched by M to investigate the mysterious
disappearance of MI6’s Jamaica station chief, Bond was expecting a
holiday in the sun. But when he discovers a deadly centipede placed in
his hotel room, the vacation is over. 

On this island, all
suspicious activity leads inexorably to Dr. Julius No, a reclusive
megalomaniac with steel pincers for hands. To find out what the good
doctor is hiding, 007 must enlist the aid of local fisherman Quarrel and
alluring beachcomber Honeychile Rider. Together they will combat a
local legend the natives call “the Dragon,” before Bond alone must face
the most punishing test of all: an obstacle course—designed by the
sadistic Dr. No himself—that measures the limits of the human body’s
capacity for agony.

Bond recovers from his attack in From Russia, with Love and is sent to Jamaica on rest leave, to investigate the disappearance of an MI6 officer and his Secretary. M thinks the two ran off together and sends Bond there on that assumption. Unfortunately, it’s much worse than that, as Bond investigates further and further, attempts are made on his life and Bond must team up with returning friend, Quarrel (Live and Let Die) and discover what mystery is being held on the island of Crab Key, which houses a doctor by the name of Dr. No. As Bond investigates the island, he runs into the beautiful Honeychile Rider, who gets roped up with him, in a fight for their lives.

Dr. No is once again another quick read, that sticks to a few locales and has a interesting mystery that keeps you reading until the end. Their isn’t much that can said that I haven’t already said in my past reviews of the Bond books, as Fleming has a certain formula and he sticks to it, which can be either a blessing or curse for some readers, as Fleming doesn’t seem to believe in the big baddie boss fight, that most of the Bond movies had. Instead, Bond will have a fight for his life, which in Dr. No’s case, is an ingenious death trap filled obstacle course, that reads as being very painful for the 00, and finally a quick disposal of the Bond villain. In Dr. No, the method of dispatch is very ingenious and somewhat humorous, which seems out of the place in the overall context of the story, but honestly, I was enjoying it and it did sound pretty painful. Also, Fleming’s formula might start to wear thin on some, as it could feel like a rinse and repeat of past story beats.

I love reading the Bond books back to back, or in my case, listening to them in my car back to back, as Fleming has crafted his own little world with them. He’s always placing little nods to the past books and provides insight on what happened to certain characters and he does a great job of bringing back past characters as well. Also, the deadly organization of SMERSH, is a wonderful idea and provides Fleming with a vast of array of baddies for Bond to go up against and gives the books a feeling of unity, which is something most of the Bond movies lacked.

Dr. No is a great Bond book, but as we get into the 6th novel in a row, you start to see a familiar pattern. Bond will be sent on a mission, meet a beautiful lady and then fight for his life, as he attempts to bring down the bad guys operation. Yes, it’s the familiar tropes of an action/spy story, but honestly, it’s the characters, locales and details that Fleming excels at and Dr. No is no different, in that it provides an exhilarating adventure, from start to finish.

Rating: 4/5 (-1 for once again not going up against the bad guy. Fleming’s familiar story beats are starting to show and this might bother some readers. +4 for a quick story, with some pretty good action, intrigue, beautiful Bond girl and an interesting death course for Bond to traverse.)

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