Thursday 19 August 2010

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

Awhile ago, I found myself in the unusual position of not having anything that I wanted to read. Then I remembered that a friend of mine, Eric, had recommended Casino Royale as a great read. Although I have seen most of the James Bond movies, I had never read any of Ian Flemings books. I figured this was a great place to start. 

In the first of Ian Fleming's tales of 007, Bond finds himself on a mission to neutralize lethal, high-rolling Russian operative called "Le Chiffre". Monsieur Le Chiffre ("the cypher"), the treasurer of a Soviet-backed trade union in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France, is running a baccarat game in the casino at Royale-les-Eaux, France, in order to recover union money he lost in a failed chain of brothels. This was originally released in 1953, a year before an older fella like me was born. 

Forget all the high tech spy tool from the movies, this is basic spy stuff. I was surprised by how simplistic the plan was for Bond to take on Le Chiffre but then the plot evolved. What I also found interesting was Bond's view on woman while he worked. He didn't like it. Totally different from the movies! Ian Fleming was the personal assistant to the Director of British Naval Intelligence during World War II and trained at the famous Camp X in Oshawa as a spy. No wonder when he started to write he wrote about a subject he was well-versed at. 

Two interesting notes from the book. First, Ian Fleming celebrated the completion of the "Casino Royale" novel's first draft by purchasing a gold-plated typewriter. Pierce Brosnan who played Bond in a few movies bought the typewriter a few years ago for $52,000US. The second was that Vesper Lynd's character was based on a WW II resistance fighter, Christine Granville, whom Fleming had met in real life and supposedly had an affair with. Her nickname was Vesperale and was said to have been Churchill's favorite spy. She was murdered in a London hotel in 1952. Hmmm! Looks like I have another book to find and read. She sounds like she has an interesting story. Casino Royale is a good work of fiction, well-written and I can see myself reading the entire series in the future. Thanks for the recommendation Eric!

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