I read Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale last week. I’ve read it a couple of times before, but didn’t remember much of it. It’s the first James Bond novel and as such I was keenly interested in how Bond is introduced. I was actually struck by the lack of internal activity. It gets right into the story. I got sucked in right away.
The novel has a very simple plot but manages to keep the tension up. Fleming has some really great descriptives. Stuff that he probably doesn’t get credit for.
The strangest thing, though, is the huge third act of the story. After Bond is tortured and blacks out in the climax, there is another third of the novel left for his recovery and courting of Vesper. It’s bizarre. Reading it, I kept thinking “what is going to happen?” But nothing does. There’s a very strange dialogue between Bond and his French colleague, Mathis, when Bond expresses his new belief that there is no good and evil. It’s a weird diatribe from a character who’s remained largely silent. The rest of the act serves to give reason for Bond to rediscover good and evil, but it’s an odd detour for the end of a book.
Anyway, somehow I remembered that Casino Royale was the first novel, but I didn’t know which came next. Dr. No? Goldfinger? Turns out, according to this, that it was Live and Let Die. I was way off. But anyway, it’s next on the list.