Thursday, November 17, 2011

Audiobook review: Doctor No by Ian Fleming

I didn't know James Bond was so insecure.

Dr No (1958) by Ian Fleming
Series: 6th 007 novel
Genre: Gentleman spy
Length: 7h 13m
Audio publisher: Blackstone Audio, 2006
Read by: Simon Vance
From: Purchased

Story: After being injured in the events of From Russia With Love, M sends Bond on an easy assignment to Jamaica. There Bond has a martini with lemon (not olives), gets mixed up with a guano pyramid scheme, and competes in his own private Hunger Games. He also learns the power of the Audubon Society and where evil masterminds go to college: Milwaukee, WI.

Thoughts: I wish I had joined Shaken, Not Stirred, from the beginning. James Bond is so much fun! The book James is nothing like the movie James. In the movies he's a jerk. In this book he's just insecure. He's always thinking "oops, messed that up," but he hides his feelings, so no one else would know. I also found his job to be much more mundane. He doesn't want to kill people, just get his paperwork in.

***I'm going to be talking about specifics in the book, so stop if you want to be surprised.***

My favorite part was at the beginning when James is ridiculed for carrying a "lady's gun." His Beretta .25 is "a bit fancy-looking, if you know what I mean..." James was so sad to lose that gun. Then he started talking about his tailor and bath salts and sunsets. He's so very metro. I wanted him to get his hair and nails done when he had the chance. His cuticles had to be pretty grim after that stint in the jungle.

The Audubon Society cracked me up! They kept saying how the Audubon had more money than the British secret service and "these old women's societies" couldn't be deterred. They're incorruptible, just like librarians.

My main inconsistency issue with the book is Chinese people don't wear kimonos. In the 1950's upper class Chinese men wore loose robes called changshan and women wore straight dresses with slits up the side called qipao. Get it right.

If I believe Wikipedia, Doctor No was panned by the critics for being sadistic and encouraging snobbery. I'm not sure where either of these charges come from. Snobbery is the whole point of James. He likes nice things. And I've purposefully forgotten all the sadism.

Reading: Listening to Simon Vance is always a joy. The Caribbean accents were a little rough, but I couldn't have done any better.

Final thoughts: I hope all the James Bond books are as fun as this one. I have never seen the move Doctor No so can't wait until Saturday to see what's different from the movie and the book. I'm sure the book is far superior, though Sean Connery.... Can't wait!

Watch Doctor No with us on Saturday, November 19, on Twitter. We'll be talking about the audiobook and then watching the movie starting at 9:30pm Eastern Time at #shakennotstirred.

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