Author: Ian Fleming
First Published: 1957
Page Count: 259
Film/ TV Adaptation: Yes*
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Note: Book 5 of James Bond series
Another installment in the Bond series delivers classic espionage and plenty of action.
*Fast Paced Conclusion
*Slow Build Up
“Hope makes a good breakfast. Eat plenty of it.” James Bond has come under the spell of the alluring Tatiana Romanova, but little does he know that she is a pawn in a plot against him and the secret service. With the infamous Russian counter intelligence agency, SMERSH, and their hired executioner, a crazed psycho with a thing for the full moon, watching his every move, will Bond be able to escape the fate they have planned for him as well as unravel the true purpose of their plan?
I’m still chugging along through the James Bond series, trying to complete my goal of reading every last one by Fleming, and From Russia with Love is book number five in the series I’ve conquered. I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy this one since the movie wasn’t one of my favorites, but it was the conclusion of the story that really made the book enjoyable. Of all the books, these final chapters of From Russia with Love feel like the quintessential Bond story. He’s got the lovely Tatiana Romanova who is a double agent but has still managed to make Bond foolishly fall for her despite his training and intuition. There is a powerful foreign agency out to get Bond that, as always, has quite a cast of oddball villains, and all of the closing action unfolds on a famous, romantic piece of transportation known as the Orient Express. The stories have to differ to keep us readers entertained, but I do enjoy the feeling of familiarity that is aroused when Fleming really stays true to Bond in his storytelling. The action in the final chapters and how everything falls into place is very exciting, but what makes it great is it all works well in the Bond universe as another one of his cases.
The beginning of this book was very different from what I’m used to reading in the Bond series. A lot of the beginning is dedicated to introducing SMERSH, its inner workings, and their latest hitman instead of focusing on what’s up with Bond. This was interesting but only for a time. I wanted to push on to our favorite super spy, and this made the book feel slow to me. There also isn’t much excitement until they board the Orient Express. Every chapter before it felt like a great build up of background information and placement of key characters leading up to the real meat of the story.
This is an entertaining book, but not anything mind-blowing. Unless you’re a fan of James Bond or spy fiction, this series can seem a bit flat for the casual reader. While it is short, I’d still only recommend reading it if you’re trying to get through the series like I am or you’re are a fan of the legendary James Bond. Otherwise, there are other books I’d rather spend my time on, but, as a Bond book, it is another entertaining adventure to explore.
* Film Adaptation: (Starring Sean Connery 1963)