Bond: For Your Reading Glasses Only

With another release delay of the next Bond film, No Time to Die, why not spend the time exploring some of Ian Fleming’s original novels. The Recs picks out five that will leave you shaken and stirred!

Dr. No

Dr. No was Ian Fleming’s sixth Bond book published in 1958 and by this stage he had perfected the now famous ingredients of exotic locations, beautiful women, danger and a super villain hell-bent on dastardly deeds.

Bond is assigned to Jamaica for a routine investigation into the disappearance of the Kingston station chief and his secretary – as well as resting up after a nasty incident with Rosa Klebb’s poisoned knitting needles (surely every spy’s nemesis?) in From Russia with Love.

It is on the beach at Crab Key whilst investigating the mysterious Dr.No that we are introduced to the (naked) Bond girl, Honeychile Rider, who interestingly has a broken nose and collects and sells shells in order pay for a nose job!

As for the villain himself, Dr. No is described as six-foot six, bald and has steel pincers for hands due to an argument with a gang over a large amount of money. 

Dr. No is an exciting and well-paced quick read, making it a quintessential Bond Story and an ideal introduction to the series. Someone really should make it into a film!

Interesting Facts


Dr. No features the introduction of Major Boothroyd as the "Armourer" - who went on to become better-known to Bond fans as "Q", the head  of the British Secret Service research and development division.

Bang Bang!

This was the first time Bond uses a Walther PPK handgun after being ordered to replace his beloved Barretta which stuck on his previous assignment.


It’s the first book where Bond utters the exact words "shaken and not stirred", when asking Dr. No for a medium Vodka dry Martini (with a slice of lemon peel).


After transporting readers to the exciting locations of France, America and Jamaica in his first two books Casino Royale and Live and Let Die, where I hear you ask did Fleming set his third book? Dover!

Moonraker was released in 1955 and although has nothing to do with the Moon or outer space as the title implies (it’s completely set in England), this doesn’t lessen the excitement of what is another classic Bond book.

The mission that takes Bond to Dover (yes I know but run with it) starts with M’s suspicions that a member of Blades private members club is cheating at cards. Apparently in the 1950s, this was tantamount to high treason and warrants an investigation –  into the renowned industrialist and suspected card cheat, Sir Hugo Drax.

Without the distraction of exotic settings, Moonraker feels more of a realistic spy thriller, especially when we are treated to an insight into Bond’s home life and mundane working day (when he isn’t off across the world seducing the ladies that is).

The Heat is On

For reasons entirely unknown, the first US paperback version was called "Too Hot to Handle".


Ian Fleming had a love of the southeast coast and spent many a weekend and summer holiday in the picturesque coastal village of St Mary’s Bay in Kent.

A Favourite

Moonraker was reputed to be the favourite Bond book of Ian Fleming’s close friend and playwright Noël Coward.

Casino Royale

Released in 1953, Casino Royale is the first ever Bond book which quickly and decisively introduces the reader into the world of James Bond in an accomplished spy thriller.

For his first mission, Bond is sent to France in order to beat the Russian agent Le Chiffre at Baccarat. If you’re not familiar with the rules of this particular card game, don’t worry you’ll be an expert by the end of the book.

Bond’s character is firmly established, often captured in minute details from his choice of cigarettes to what he wears and eats. A book that guarantees to make you hungry even if you have no idea what a dish of plain grilled rognon de veau with pommes soufflées is!

The first lucky lady who gets to fall in love with Bond is Vesper Lynd, a complicated woman who is sent by MI6 to assist Bond with his mission to thrash Le Chiffre.

"Oh James"

We are introduced to Miss Moneypenny from the start and learn Miss Moneypenny would be desirable if it weren’t for her cool, direct and quizzical eyes!


The first film adaptation of this book was (in The Recs opinion) the terrible 1967 spoof with David Niven as Sir James Bond and Ursula Andress as Vesper Lynd.


After reading Casino Royale, you will never look at a cane carpet-beater in the same way again - if you’ve ever seen one in the first place that is!

From Russia With Love

Those fiendish Russians are at it again and for Fleming’s fifth book From Russia with Love, SMERSH are out to murder Bond and destroy his reputation for good measure. Bit excessive.

Lured to Istanbul by the beautiful Tatiana Romanov who, not only has a crush on Bond, but also offers an opportunity to get one over her Russian paymasters, this book is a classic espionage story which is crammed with glamour, intrigue and exciting action sequences. Who can forget a fight to the death on the Orient Express involving a gun in a book and Rosa Klebb dressed as an old lady with a deadly telephone! Classic.

As with all of the Bond books, although there are plenty of exciting plot points and highlights which are perfect for turning into a screenplay, Fleming also provides a wealth of background detail relevant for each mission. In From Russia with Love, we are treated to the back story of the Soviets grand plan to kill Bond and as such 007 doesn’t appear until chapter 12.


From Russia with Love was reportedly one of John F Kennedy’s top 10 favourite books.


Of this book, Ian Fleming said ‘Personally I think From Russia with Love was, in many respects, my best book’

Is It?

Often visiting the set for the film adaptation, there’s much contention as to whether Ian Fleming himself made a cameo. Judge for yourself if the man standing in a field by the passing Orient Express is him or not!

On Her Majesty's Secret Service

It’s fair to say that Bond had embarked on more than a few love affairs over the course of the ten previous novels, however On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is undoubtedly the one true love story in the series.

The object of Bond’s true affection is the beautiful, headstrong Tracy(!), short for the Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo, who he saves from drowning herself on a beach in France.

This book features the second of three appearances of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who is head of the criminal organization S.P.E.C.T.R.E.  

Bond’s mission is to locate and eliminate Blofeld after he stole nuclear warheads and held the world to ransom in Thunderball, as you do! 007’s journey not only leads him into the arms of Tracy, but several other young ladies in Switzerland whilst masquerading as genealogist Sir Hilary Bray in his hunt for Blofeld.

A thrilling and tragic book which explores an evolved Bond as he considers his career and finally settling down.

Och Aye

On Her Majesty's Secret Service was the first book to be released after the start of the film series and Fleming introduced that both Bond’s surname and his father were Scottish as a tribute to Sean Connery.


This is the only book in the series which had a deluxe version, with a limited addition of 250 copies, numbered and signed by Fleming himself, released by the publishers, Jonathan Cape. Check your book shelves now, just in case!

A First

On Her Majesty's Secret Service was the first of the Bond books to be serialised in Playboy magazine in the May 1963 edition.

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Dr. No




Casino Royale


From Russia with Love




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