James Bond has indeed returned with Live and Let Die and the tradition of great writing from Ian Fleming continues. Bond’s adventure this time, is more grandiose and full of a lot more action than the last novel, Casino Royale, but does going larger still make for a great story? Read on to find out…
Short nitty-gritty plot description from the back cover is as follows: Beautiful, fortune-telling Solitaire is the prisoner (and tool) of Mr. Big – master of fear, artist in crime, and Voodoo Baron of Death. James Bond has no time for superstition – he knows that Big is also a top SMERSH operative and a real threat. More than that, after tracking him through the jazz joints of Harlem to the Everglades and on the Caribbean, 007 has realized that Mr. Big is one of the most dangerous men that he has ever faced. And no one, not even the enigmatic Solitaire, can be sure how their battle of wills is going to end.
If you happened to have seen the Live and Let Die movie, starring Roger Moore, you’re going to be in for a big surprise, when you crack open the book of the same name and realize that it’s a grounded in reality tale, with no voodoo god, or bursting helium heads. Live and Let Die the book, tells the story of Bond investigating a gold smuggling ring, run by crime lord, Mr. Big, housed out of Harlem, who also has ties with SMERSH. Bond teams up with Felix Leither and manages to quickly get in over his head, when he runs face to face with Mr. Big and the seductive Solitaire. Bond’s adventure takes him from the mean streets of Harlem, to the hot and sweaty streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, all the way to the exotic, but deadly beaches of Jamaica.
Ian Felming once again returns with pen to page and spins a tale that is both riveting and tense. There are moments where you’ll be quickly turning the pages to find out what’s going to happen next. This time around, not everyone is safe and a few friends run face to face with danger and have something that disagrees with them (the movie Licence to Kill borrows some interesting ideas from this book. Hint, hint).
I have to say, this cover looks wrong… very wrong.
The wonderful thing about Fleming, is that he is so damn descriptive when need be and keeps the plot moving at a break neck speed. His books never feel long and drawn out and Live and Let Die is another fine example of that. I was a little taken aback by what felt like a good amount of racism in this novel, but you do have to remember, this book was written in 1954 and at the time, that was sadly the norm. Still, this might throw off a few people from wanting to read it.
Once again, Fleming has done it and gave us another fine tale with James Bond. It spans several locales and cranks up the action. Bond has the lovely ladies to contend with and a formidable bad guy in the way of Mr. Big. We have returning friends and new ones introduced, Bond is sometimes at the brink of death, but always manages to figure a way to save his bacon, along with bedding the ladies. Live and Let Die is a definite recommend and one that you shouldn’t skip out on reading.
Rating: 4.5/5 (-0.5 for a touch of racism. Yes, it’s a product of the times, but still, it feels weird. +4.5 for everything positive listed above.)