Details of the Mission

In the ensuing chapters of Casino Royale, we get more details about the mission that Bond is current on. It involves a Russian agent…Le Chiffre, who has gotten himself into financial trouble and is using Soviet funds to gamble and try to win back the money belonging to his employer. Chapter two is essentially M reading the proposal for the case, as well as a couple appendixes, which give us detail on Le Chiffre and SMERSH.

Chapter three introduces us to a couple characters who are regulars in the series. “Bill” is M’s Chief of Staff, and “Moneypenny” is M’s secretary. Our first look at Moneypenny is thus:

Miss Moneypenny would have been desirable but for her eyes, which were cool and direct and quizzical.

That description changes a bit throughout the books, but we get the idea of the type of woman she is. Later on, we learn another tidbit about Bond. He’s no rookie with the service. They’re talking about his ability with the cards, and it’s said of him:

He must be pretty good with the cards or he wouldn’t have sat in the Casino at Monte Carlo for two months before the war watching that Roumanian team work their stuff with the invisible ink and dark glasses.

The “War” of course is WWII. It’s now 1953. Bond is given the mission from M, with the condition that someone is going to be sent there to assist him, a notion that Bond chafes internally at.In chapter four, we’re back at Royale-Les-Eaux, and learn some of Bond’s habits, here is where we see some of Fleming’s great descriptive writing at work. He just has such a way with describing food, cars, clothing, and rooms that you can’t help but be drawn into. I don’t smoke, but I might even be tempted with one of Bond’s cigarettes made of a “Balkan and Turkish mixture made for him by Morlands of Grosvenor Street”. In the rest of the chapter, Bond is visited by Mathis, from the Deuxieme Bureau (Fleming assumes we know that’s the French Military Intelligence) who, after a few dramatics, informs Bond that his cover is blown. The Muntzes, a couple in the room above his, have been performing some electronic eavesdropping, high tech stuff for the times. Bond also learns that his Number Two for the mission is to be…a woman. A beautiful woman, no less. He also learns that some American from the CIA…a guy named Felix Leiter…is on the scene. The sexism of the times and of Bond, by extension Fleming, is shown as Bond reflects on having a woman assigned to work with him:

Women were for recreation. On a job they got in the way and fogged things up with sex and hurt feelings and all the emotional baggage they carried around. One had to look out for them and take care of them.

Bond is actually angry at the thought of it all as the chapter ends. From these three chapters, many of the characters we come to know so well over the course of the series emerge. We have M, Miss Moneypenny, Chief of Staff, Mathis, and Felix Leiter, all being introduced or mentioned for the first time in these pages. We will share so much with these ones as time goes by…