Book Review: The Man with the Golden Gun by Ian Fleming

May 22, 2017

The Man with the Golden Gun by Ian Fleming is the 12th novel featuring English Secret Service agent James Bond, 007.  The book was published in 1965 and became an instant best seller.

  • 169 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 161218557

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My rating for The Man with the Golden Gun 3
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Books by Ian Fleming*

I have always thought the James Bond movie franchise missed the mark with the Blofeld Trilogy (Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. and You Only Live Twice), especially with the third novel. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was not only a fantastic read, but also one of the best Bond flicks. The plot focused movie followed the outline of the novel, had a marvelous script written by Richard Maibaum and a descent cast.
The film has a dedicated following to this day.

From some inexplicable reason, Eon Productions decided to make You Only Live Twice before On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and thus bowing out of a tremendous opportunity. Not only for Bond to exact revenge for the killing of his wife, but also to create an enduring trilogy.
Instead we got Diamonds are Forever, a mediocre (at best) Bond film, Connery’s last until a few decades later.

But what does this have to do with The Man with the Golden Gun by Ian Fleming?
Again, the films missed the mark, going back to the age old formula of gadgets and one-liners, instead of focusing of the exciting and sophisticated plot being handed to them by the author.

In this novel, Bond is back after MI6 thought he was dead, however he is not the suave spy any longer, but an automaton with different personality. Bond is emotionless, cold and non-sensical. While the film builds Francisco Scaramanga (The Man with the Golden Gun) as a first rate, stone-cold killer, the novel takes the position that he is nothing but a small time crook, who got lucky with his aim.

So how do you take an established character, pair him up with a second rate villain yet still make an interesting affair out of it?
First, Fleming creates a wide conspiracy where Scaramanga uses his KGB connections to destabilize a region (Jamaica) through industrial sabotage. Second, by allowing this second rate villain to use the drugs trade for political purposes to undermine the West.

James Bond, brain washed by the KGB, is sent back to England to assassinate M. But Bond cannot bring himself to kill in the methods of the SS or the KGB, but to do so honorably – The English way.

I could not help but feel that Mr. Fleming did not finish this book. It seemed to me half-finished and would not make any sense unless you read The Blofeld Trilogy first. The novel is not unreadable, it is enjoyable for the Bond fans, but it is far from being one of the best in the series. It is neither thrilling nor clever but is just “there”. If anything we learn more about M than any other major character in the series.
And M is a small part of the story.

This is a mildly entertaining novel, an escape to the Bond universe if you desire, or for the completists who want to read them all.

James Bond’s final clash with Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Japan ended badly for both. Blofeld died, Bond was lost to the world for a year until he suddenly turned up in London. Once MI6 confirmed Bond’s identity he is interviewed by M and tries to kill his boss – and fails.

MI6 de-programmed Bond and was given a chance to earn his 00 section ranking back. M gives Bond an suicide mission, to go after a Cuban assassin named Francisco “Pistols” Scaramanga, who uses a gold plated .45 Colt.

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Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I bought this book.
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