Thursday, January 19, 2012

Audiobook review: Goldfinger by Ian Fleming

Goldfinger (1959) by Ian Fleming
Series: 7th James Bond book, 3rd movie
Genre: Gentleman spy
Length: 8h 28m
Audio publisher: Blackstone Audio, 2000
Read by: Simon Vance
From: publisher

This review is full of spoilers, so be warned!

Story: Tired of killing people for a living, when his flight is delayed in Miami, James Bond takes some time for himself. At the airport he's recognized by a fellow player from Casino Royale who asks Bond for help in exchange for a night at a swank hotel. Bond is to find how a certain Auric Goldfinger always wins the daily canasta game. Back in England, Goldfinger's name comes up as a matter of national security and M wants Bond to track him down.

Thoughts: The James Bond at the beginning of Goldfinger is a complete departure from the James Bond at the beginning of Dr. No. In Dr. No, James was jumping at the bit and couldn't wait to get back in the action. Now he's been working for awhile, and he's sick of killing. He needs a vacation. He does have a martini, and again it's a vodka martini with lemon. There's even a bit about how vodka has less toxins than other spirits because it's filtered, but James doesn't really care. He just likes the taste.

The solution to the canasta cheating was quite obvious, so it was funny that Junius DuPont kept playing with Goldfinger and keeps losing. Just stop playing! I guess addiction is tough to fight. When James gets back to England, he tracks down Goldfinger at the golf course, resulting in the longest game of golf described in literature. I never thought it would end. I hope James tipped his caddie well.

The plot with the gold went over my head. I mean, Goldfinger buys used gold, so he's not stealing, then he sells the gold somewhere else to make money. Isn't this the basis of the stock market? The gold was in people's dressers before he got it, so how is this national security? I guess is he's not paying enough taxes or something. Anyway, James doesn't like Goldfinger because Goldfinger's short, so that's reason enough for James to track him down. I don't know what James is supposed to do when he finds Goldfinger. Kill him? For being rich? or short?

I really liked Tilly Masterton when she showed up. She doesn't like James and won't put up with his bull. He wrecks her car, but she gets him take her where she wants to go. She should have taken that shot at Goldfinger and not listened to anything James said. After they're captured, Tilly loses all agency and becomes a nothing character, which is unfortunate.

For the amount of exposure the gold woman gets, she never shows up in the book. It's mentioned that Goldfinger likes to paint his women and kills them this way, but it's all in the backstory. James never sees a gold woman.

I lost interest in the story after James was captured. I liked how James' personality came out then. He was prepared to die, and his job was to make it easier for 008 to avenge his death, but the plot became cartoonish, and we could only sit back and see how it played out.

In Dr No, I liked the names that described people, but Pussy Galore  is too much. She wasn't much of a character, and the stuff about James converting her with his manliness was over the top. I'll just pretend that James did die at Goldfinger's lair and everything after that was just a dream.

Reading: Simon Vance was professional as ever and made some of the more outlandish parts of this book palatable with his smooth delivery. My very favorite part was the extremely minor character of an American doctor. I think he has one line, but I loved Simon Vance's delivery of the nerdy American. I don't think I've heard Simon Vance do an American accent like that before. Usually the Americans in these books are Texas millionaires or military men. I kept waiting for the nerd to come back, but he never did. Now my goal in life is to find more books where Simon Vance voices a nerdy American male. It was brilliant!

Final thoughts: With Dr. No, I preferred the book to the movie, but with Goldfinger, I'm not so sure. I'm looking forward to watching the movie and seeing how it's different. And to hear the famous lines "Do you expect me to talk?" "No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die."

Many thanks to Blackstone Audio for providing this copy of Goldfinger to review!

This post is part of the Shaken, Not Stirred challenge. We'll be watching Goldfinger starting at 9:30 pm Eastern US time on Saturday, January 21 and commenting on twitter at #shakennotstirred. Join us!

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