The Sentence

Live and Let Die Chapter 21

James Bond is led up towards the entrance of the cave, pausing a couple times, apparently so that Mr Big can control his breathing and heart. Closer to the top, they pause in front of what is evidently a cell. They go inside and Bond notices the shackles on the stone walls. This was an ancient place to imprisonment and torture. Mr Big speaks her name and Solitaire comes running from in the darkness. She is hysterical at seeing Bond.

Mr Big orders the pair tied up, as he has some things to say to them. Bond’s arms are tied behind his back and his legs tied together as well. He is then propped on the ground with his arms hoisted up and secured behind him. Mr Big dismisses the guard and as Bond reflects that the gangster is still just a mortal man with a diseased heart, Mr Big begins to speak.

‘You are the best of those that have been sent against me,’ said Mr. Big. His quiet flat voice was thoughtful, measured. ‘And you have achieved the death of four of my assistants. My followers find this incredible. It was fully time that accounts should be squared. What happened to the American was not sufficient. The treachery of this girl,’ he still looked at Bond, ‘whom I found in the gutter and whom I was prepared to put on my right hand, has also brought my infallibility in question. I was wondering how she should die, when providence, or Baron Samedi as my followers will believe, brought you also to the altar with your head bowed ready for the axe.’

He informs Bond that he and Solitaire will die right around six o’clock in the morning. Mr Big continues speaking, bragging about being the first great negro “criminal” though he says he only uses that word because Bond is a “policeman”. He says he owes his success to his “infinite capacity for taking pains” in everything that he does.

What he has in mind for Bond and Solitaire is a modern day take on “keel-hauling”.

‘We have a paravane on board the yacht,’ continued Mr. Big as if he was a surgeon describing a delicate operation to a body of students, ‘which we use for trawling for shark and other big fish. This paravane, as you know, is a large buoyant torpedo-shaped device, which rides on the end of a cable, away from the side of a ship, and which can be used for sustaining the end of a net, and drawing it through the water when the ship is in motion, or if fitted with a cutting device, for severing the cables of moored mines in time of war.

‘I intend,’ said Mr. Big, in a matter-of-fact discursive tone of voice,’ to bind you together to a line streamed from this paravane and to tow you through the sea until you are eaten by sharks.’

Bond’s mind races, as he tries to calculate the time that he set the fuse to go off that is going to blow up the Secatur. It’s going to be close. Solitaire suddenly cries out, saying that she sees much death, Bond is worried that Mr Big will take her outburst to indicate more than their own deaths and investigate any threats to the ship.

The chapter ends with Mr Big explaining that everything he does has a purpose. The deaths of Bond and Solitaire, in addition to exacting the revenge necessary and leaving no trace, will also benefit the world of science as he is curious to see how the sharks react to their bodies after they have been dragged over the reef and are bleeding in the water. He bids them : “A short, but very good night to you both.”

Bloody Morgan’s Cave

Live and Let Die Chapter 20

As the fish above him continue their frenzy, James Bond desperately searches for a way out. Even while he is doing this, Barracuda slams into his shoulder, taking out a chunk of flesh with it. Water begins to enter his suit, and just as he is about to go to the surface, he spots a boulder where he might get some shelter.

Once behind it, he manages to shoot the fish with his harpoon. Then he notices that the boulder is hiding the entrance to a cave. This portion of the cave is underwater, and as Bond observes, was clearly made by man.

‘At least another twenty yards to go, men,’ Bloody Morgan must have said to the slave overseers. And then the picks would have burst suddenly through to the sea and a welter of arms and legs and screaming mouths, gagged for ever with water, would have hurtled back into the rock to join the bodies of other witnesses.

The great boulder at the entrance would have been put in position to seal the seaward exit. The Shark Bay fisherman who suddenly disappeared six months before must have one day found it rolled away by a storm or by the tidal wave following a hurricane. Then he had found the treasure and had known he would need help to dispose of it. A white man would cheat him. Better go to the great negro gangster in Harlem and make the best terms he could. The gold belonged to the black men who had died to hide it. It should go back to the black men.

Standing there, swaying in the slight current in the tunnel, Bond guessed that one more barrel of cement had splashed into the mud of the Harlem River.

While still under the water, Bond can hear the drums, which have boomed up, signaling that Bond has been spotted and to terrify any people on the shore. Bond presses on, until up ahead he spots a faint glimmer. He turns off his own torch and moves towards the light. He moves on until he is just below the surface of the water. Too late he realizes he’s gone too far.

Two men roughly haul him out of the water and into the cave. He is stripped and brought forward. The boom and stutter of the drums is deafening.

In the foreground, at a green baize card-table, littered with papers, in a folding chair, sat Mr. Big, a pen in his hand, looking incuriously at him. A Mr. Big in a well-cut fawn tropical suit, with a white shirt and black knitted silk tie. His broad chin rested on his left hand and he looked up at Bond as if he had been disturbed in his office by a member of the staff asking for a raise in salary. He looked polite but faintly bored.

‘Good morning, Mister James Bond,’ he said at last, throwing his flat voice against the dying crescendo of the drums. ‘The fly has indeed been a long time coming to the spider, or perhaps I should say “the minnow to the whale”.

He is in the makeshift headquarters of Mr Big’s operation. As he looks around he see broken timber, disintegrating canvas and a massive amount of gold coins, which are being arranged into trays. Others are working at melting gold and there are plenty of other jewels around as well.

Mr Big orders the drums stopped…they were being played on a phonograph. He then orders the men back to work, and finishes the figures he was working on. He then gets up, and orders Bond brought with him. The others continue to work, knowing that even though Mr Big has left, Baron Samedi is still watching them.

Valley of Shadows

Live and Let Die Chapter 19

James Bond is in the water, with the heavy limpet mine strapped to his chest, heading out towards the Secatur. As he makes the journey, Fleming provides vivid word pictures of the undersea life that he encounters on his swim.

Once the great streamers of a portuguese man-of-war floated slowly by. They almost reached his head from the surface, fifteen feet away, and he remembered the whiplash of a sting from the contact of one of their tendrils that had burned for three of his days at Manatee Bay. If they caught a man across the heart they could kill him. He saw several green and speckled moray eels, the latter moving like big yellow and black snakes along patches of sand, the green ones baring their teeth from some hole in the rock, and several West Indian blowfish, like brown owls with huge soft green eyes. He poked at one with the end of his gun and it swelled out to the size of a football and became a mass of dangerous white spines.

Once he gets past the reef, there is a hundred yards of open water in front of him. He takes a moment to rest and to reflect on the dangers ahead when suddenly he is grabbed around the ankles by an octopus. The beast pulls Bond down, and because of the weight on his chest, he is unable to reach out with his dagger to wound the attacker.

After a struggle of a few moments, he manages to get his harpoon gun and point it at the octopus. He pulls the trigger and is freed, albeit amidst a cloud of “viscous, stringy ink”. A stream of bubbles also rises to the surface, where they could possibly be observed by the people on the boat. He continues on, passing by a giant stingray. He also spots a shark and a number of large barracuda. He then spots the keel of the Secatur, and checks the time.

He looked at the Rolex watch on his wrist. It was three minutes past eleven o’clock. He selected the seven-hour fuse from the handful he extracted from a zipped side-pocket and inserted it in the fuse pocket of the mine and pushed it home. The rest of the fuses he buried in the sand so that if he was captured the mine would not be betrayed.

After he attaches the mine, he notices the pack of barracuda and sharks in a frenzy. “Extreme mob behaviour conditions” as the Navy Department had phrased it. Bond pushes through and gets to the giant screws of the ship and takes shelter there.

At the same time he noticed that it was getting darker. He looked up and saw with dawning comprehension that the quicksilver surface of the sea had turned red, a horrible glinting crimson.

Threads of the stuff drifted within his reach. He hooked some towards him with the end of his gun. Held the end close up against his glass mask.

There was no doubt about it.

Up above, someone was spraying the surface of the sea with blood and offal.

Its Go Time

Live and Let Die Chapter 18

Bond spends his last night at the training camp reading more books and pamphlets on shark and barracuda. He also reads reports on the Shark Repellent which is on its way to him. Quarrel is “scornful” about whether the stuff will work, but is “impressed against his will” when Bond reads how the repellent was tested and how the sharks reacted to it.

They leave in the morning and return to Beau Desert, where their operations base is.

The property was a beautiful old plantation of about a thousand acres with the ruins of a fine Great House commanding the bay. It was given over to pimento and citrus inside a fringe of hardwoods and palms and had a history dating back to the time of Cromwell. The romantic name was in the fashion of the eighteenth century, when Jamaican properties were called Bellair, Bellevue, Boscobel, Harmony, Nymphenburg or had names like Prospect, Content or Repose.

This property will figure large in a future Bond adventure. After sitting down and examining every inch of the reef in front of him, Bond has lunch and then goes through the equipment sent to him from London. Strangways arrives and has some news, the Secatur has arrived. The ship is coming into the reef and the three men look at the boat through glasses.

She was a handsome craft, black with a grey superstructure, seventy foot long and built for speed – at least twenty knots, Bond guessed. He knew her history, built for a millionaire in 1947 and powered with twin General Motors Diesels, steel hull and all the latest wireless gadgets, including ship-to-shore telephone and Decca navigator.

I was curious about what a Decca navigator was, as I had not heard the term before. This article from Wikipedia tells you almost everything you would want to know about the system, which was high-tech for the time of this novel and was widely used until GPS technology came into use.

As they are watching, a figure on a stretcher is brought on deck, and Bond recognizes that it is Solitaire. He feels a “tightening of the heart at her nearness” and “prays” that the stretcher is only a device to keep her from being seen from shore. Strangways notes that only about six cases of fish tanks came on the ship, they usually had 50. It looks like this stay will be a short one, probably only one night.

So it is decided. Bond is to swim out to the ship tonight and attach the limpet mine to it. Without the shark repellent which is due in tomorrow. He pours himself half a glass of whiskey and downs a benzedrine tablet with it.

Exactly at ten o’clock, with nothing but anticipation and excitement in him, the shimmering black bat-like figure slipped off the rocks into ten feet of water and vanished under the sea.

The Undertaker’s Wind

Live and Let Die Chapter 17

Paw-paw with a slice of green lime, a dish piled with red bananas, purple star-apples and tangerines, scrambled eggs and bacon, Blue Mountain coffee – the most delicious in the world – Jamaican marmalade, almost black, and guava jelly.

As Bond, wearing shorts and sandals, had his breakfast on the veranda and gazed down on the sunlit panorama of Kingston and Port Royal, he thought how lucky he was and what wonderful moments of consolation there were for the darkness and danger of his profession.

James Bond is in Jamaica to put an end to the activities of Mr Big. He has a week or so to wait until the Secatur comes back to the island, so he is going to get in some serious training, while at the same time allowing his hand to heal. Bond is introduced to Quarell, who will be his guide and fitness trainer on this mission. The Quarell of this novel and of Dr No bears little resemblance to the Quarell as portrayed by John Kitzmiller in the movie version of the latter book. This Quarell has “the blood of Cronwellian soldiers and buccaneers in him and his face was strong and angular and his mouth was almost severe. His eyes were grey. It was only the spatulate nose and pale palms of his hands that were negroid.” He refers to Bond as “Cap’n” – the highest title he knows.

As they drive to the other end of Jamaica, Quarrel points out the sights of the Island. I tried to use Google Maps to follow the path they took, and could, for the most part, but my efforts to get an outline to post on here was unsuccessful. They go through Castleton, Agualta Vale, Port Maria, Shark Bay, Oracabessa, Ocho Rios, and Montego Bay before arriving at their secret destination. Once there, Quarrel makes preparations while Bond goes for a swim. As the sun sets, Quarrel makes reference to the “Undertaker’s Wind”

‘On-and-off shore breeze de sailors call it,’ said Quarrel. ‘De Undertaker blow de bad air out of de Island nighttimes from six. till six. Then every morning de “Doctor’s Wind” come and blow de sweet air in from de sea. Leastwise dat’s what we calls dem in Jamaica.’

Quarrel looked quizzically at Bond.

‘Guess you and de Undertaker’s Wind got much de same job, Cap’n,’ he said half-seriously.

Bond laughed shortly. ‘Glad I don’t have to keep the same hours,’ he said.

Quarrel makes dinner while Bond starts his reading of books on the tropical seas, works by Jacques Cousteau among others. He wants to learn up on all that he might encounter in these waters while completing his mission. What he reads gives him nightmares.

The next day his training routine begins, it consists of running, swimming, rowing a canoe and underwater hunting. They shoot a barracuda that is hanging around, and it comes after them, Bond swings his spear just as the fish is about get Quarrel. The spear ends up between the jaws of the fish, and after killing it, they have to twist the spear out of its jaws and find bright deep scratches in the metal of the spear. That was about the extent of the excitement of the week, and by the time the end of the weeks arrives, Bond is suntanned, in shape, and down to 10 cigarettes a day and hasn’t had a drink in a week.

He gets an update on Leiter from Strangways after they return to their rest-house. The CIA man has lost and arm and a leg, and has been having plastic surgery to rebuild his face. Bond also receives the news that the Secatur will be at the Isle of Surprise tomorrow, and that Solitaire is on board.

Never before in his life had there been so much to play for. The secret of the treasure, the defeat of a great criminal, the smashing of a Communist spy ring, and the destruction of a tentacle of SMERSH, the cruel machine that was his own private target. And now Solitaire, the ultimate personal prize.

Onto Jamaica

Live and Let Die Chapter 16

It is 2:00 a.m. as James Bond leaves the Ourobouros warehouse after having seen The Robber to his gruesome death. Bond heads out of town on the four lane concrete highway towards Tampa. Remember those old concrete highways? Riding on them in your car was like riding a train…thump…thump…thump… Many sub-highways today which used to be major highways back in the 1950’s were originally concrete, which has been tarred over. In many cases I can still detect the thumps where the edges of the concrete sections are buried under layers of tar. Bond finds a bar that is open and has himself another Double Old Grandad on the rocks, apparently his drink of choice in Florida. In New York it was Haig and Haig, but since coming South, its been Old Grandad.

After cleaning himself up and examining his throbbing hand, (The splint broke while punching The Robber) Bond discourages the bartender’s attempts at conversation and eventually moves on. He finds a cheap motel relatively close to the Airport, where he showers and immediately falls asleep. He sleeps until noon, and then writes his report for the FBI. He doesn’t mention finding the gold coins at the warehouse, for fear Mr Big should intercept the message and then move his operations. Bond is eager to get out of Florida and the FBI is eager to see him leave, as evidenced by the man in the unnecessary raincoat hanging around at the Airport. Before he leaves, he calls for an update on Felix…no change, still unconscious.

The next two and a half pages chronicle Bond’s flight from Tampa to Jamaica, by way of Nassau. Things get a little bumpy on the second leg of the journey, causing him to have bit of an internal panic.

And the forty little heavier-than-air people, fallible within the plane’s fallibility, vain within its larger vanity, fall down with it and make little holes in the land or little splashes in the sea. Which is anyway their destiny, so why worry? You are linked to the ground mechanic’s careless fingers in Nassau just as you are linked to the weak head of the little man in the family saloon who mistakes the red light for the green and meets you head-on, for the first and last time, as you are motoring quietly home from some private sin. There’s nothing to do about it. You start to die the moment you are born. The whole of life is cutting through the pack with death. So take it easy. Light a cigarette and be grateful you are still alive as you suck the smoke deep into your lungs. Your stars have already let you come quite a long way since you left your mother’s womb and whimpered at the cold air of the world. Perhaps they’ll even let you get to Jamaica tonight.

Eventually though, the plane does land safely and James Bond, sweating, rapidly gets off the plane. The airport is the Palisadoes Airport, which is now the Norman Manley International Airport – the main airport in Kingston, Jamaica.

He is greeted at the airport by Strangways, the chief Secret Service agent for the Caribbean. (Strangways will figure large in a future James Bond adventure on Jamaica.) They go to Strangway’s house on the Junction Road below Stoney Hill. They have a drink – Whiskey-and-soda and Bond settles in to listen to the story Strangways has to tell. Much of the story is background…legends of pirate treasure on a tin piece of land, the Isle of Suprise in a place called Shark Bay. For two hundred years, people have been searching for treasure and found nothing. Six months ago, the Island was purchased by a anonymous New York syndicate purchased the island, and the Secatur started dropping anchor there.

Interestingly, the Ian Fleming collection at Indiana University (Scroll way down on page) contains Fleming’s personal copy of Live and Let Die, with a note from Fleming on the inside cover. Part of it says :

The underwater chapters are based on Cabritta Island, Port Marcie, Jamaica, where Bloody Morgan careened his ships and which is still supposed to contain his treasure.

An interesting tidbit indeed.

In this picture you see the Island in the left hand side of the picture, looking out from one of the hillsides surrounding the bay. The crew of the Secatur has been law-abiding and orderly, working under the guise of obtaining rare species for Ourobouros, Inc. They’ve been sailing out, filled with fish tanks, about every two weeks.

No one has been able to get out there and see what they’re doing. Three people have died trying, including two swimmers brought in from the Naval base in Bermuda. Since the Island is now owned by an American…they’ve discovered the anonymous New York Syndicate is Mr Big…there is a lot of red tape involved. Bond has to get out there and see for himself what is going on.

Strangways informs Bond of the arrangements he’s made at a place called Beau Desert. There’s a house there, Strangways has gotten them a car, a Sunbeam Talbot, probably much like the one pictured here.

He’s got a man to act as Bond’s “factotum” (an assistant who serves in a wide range of capacities.) He is a Cayman Islander named Quarrel, another character who will figure large in a future adventure. Bond is to rest of and get a week of training in before he is to swim out to the Island when the Secatur comes back into port. Bond requests from equipment from London to assist him in his mission. A frogman suit with compressed air bottles, spares, a good underwater harpoon gun, underwater torch, a commando dagger, a new fangled shark-repellent, and oh yeah, a limpet mine, with plenty of assorted size fuses. Bond has a mission and a plan.

The Grunt Of The Shark

Live and Let Die Chapter 15

James Bond is determined to avenge his friend Felix Leiter. He packs up his bag and leaves The Everglades. They’re glad to see him go. After visiting a hardware store and picking up a few unspecified items, he has dinner.

Then he had the biggest steak, rare, with French fried, he had ever seen. It was a small grill called Pete’s, dark and friendly. He drank a quarter of a pint of Old Grandad with the steak and had two cups of very strong coffee. With all this under his belt he began to feel more sanguine. He spun out the meal and the drinks until nine o’clock.

Old Grandad? When I see that stuff in the store, it’s usually down on the bottom shelf. James Bond is drinking it? C’mon. Ian Fleming goofing on us Americans again…must be.

Bond then heads for the Ourobouros warehouse. He uses a glass cutter and hunk of putty that he had bought at the hardware store and gets into the warehouse. Fleming devotes nearly two and half pages to the meticulous work that Bond does to get in. Once inside, Bond looks around and sees many dangerous species scattered in tanks throughout the building. He also notices that all the poisonous fish are in tanks in which the mud or sand at the bottom occupies nearly half of the tank. He has a hunch and decides to act on it.

Spearing a Scorpion fish with his knife and taking it out of the tank, he reaches into the mud and finds rows of coins. He’s discovered how Mr Big is getting the coins into the country. What customs agent is going to stick his hand into a tank of poisonous fish? (This is the 1950’s, remember) Just about that same time however, all the lights in the warehouse come on. The Robber has returned. There is a very loud gun battle as tanks shatter and large conch shells are hurled. Bond realizes however, that he can’t win this battle. He’s got limited ammunition, while his opponent seems to have an endless supply.

He calls out to The Robber, telling him he gives up. He tosses his gun down, clenching in his hand a gold coin. The Robber has him move to the middle of the floor, where there is the outline of a trap door. He realizes what happened to Felix.

At that moment Bond dropped the gold coin out of his left hand. It clanged on the cement floor and started to roll.
In the fraction of a second that The Robber’s eyes flickered down, Bond’s right foot in its steel-capped shoe lashed out to its full length. It kicked the rifle almost out of The Robber’s hands. At the same moment that The Robber pulled the trigger and the bullet crashed harmlessly through the glass ceiling, Bond launched himself in a dive at the man’s stomach, his two arms flailing.

After a back and forth pitched battle, Bond connects with an uppercut which sends The Robber staggering towards the middle of the floor, where the bolt for the trapdoor has come completely out.

What happens next is startling. As The Robber lands in the middle of the trap door, it pivots and sends the man tumbling down. He manages to grab onto the edge and hang there.

He begs Bond to help him out, as there is a shark in the water below him.

Bond asks him first what happened to Solitaire. He assures Bond that she is ok, snatched by two men from Tampa. He tells Bond where he can find them. Bond then asks him about Leiter. The Robber tries to place the blame on Felix.
Called me out early this mornin’. Said the place was on fire. Seen it passing in his car. Held me up and brought me back in here. Wanted to search the place. Just fell through the trap. Accident. I swear it was his fault. We pulled him out before he was finished. He’ll be okay.’

Bond knows the man is lying. No doubt he led Felix right over the door just as he tried to do with Bond. He pictures the cruel smile on his face as they fished Felix out, half eaten.

This thought leads Bond to rage. He kicks The Robber’s hands off the ledge and the man falls into the pool, where the shark emits a great snuffling grunt before attacking him. Bond closes the trap door, bolts it closed and picks up the coin off the floor. As he leaves, he muses that a small payment had been made on account of Solitaire and Leiter.

Comics copyright their original owners. No infringement is intended.

“He disagreed with something that ate him”

Live and Let Die Chapter 14

James Bond and Felix Leiter rush back to their rooms after being told by Mrs. Stuyvesant about the “delivery” of a huge radiogram in a packing case. As they feared, Solitaire is gone, but there is an old radiogram at the entrance to their rooms. It’s not hard to see how they got her out. Bond and Leiter quickly get on the phone with the FBI to have the ‘Airports, railroad terminals and the highways’ watched. Bond goes to Solitaire’s room to search for clues, and it seems he has an attack of sentiment. He gets a sniff of the scent she wore (Vent Vert) and finds her bag, which she apparently had kicked under her bed. He finds the five thousand dollars that she had sewed into the lining of the bag, and vows to either return it to her, or use it to avenge her.

Bond and Leiter then have dinner in The Everglades dining room. The food seems rather underwhelming:

What it came down to was tomato juice, boiled fish with a white sauce, a strip of frozen turkey with a dab of cranberry, and a wedge of lemon curd surmounted by a whorl of stiff cream substitute. They munched it down gloomily while the dining-room emptied of its oldster couples and the table lights went out one by one. Fingerbowls, in which floated one hibiscus petal, was the final gracious touch to their meal.

More Fleming rips on American cuisine? The meal doesn’t sound all that great, but it actually sounds like a meal you’d get in a dining room like that.

After dinner, the two of them go back to their sitting room, and drink, looking out to the sea. They go to their separate rooms and go to bed. Bond makes up his mind to go see The Robber as soon as day breaks and “strangle the truth out of him”. He then goes to sleep. He wakes up at 8:00 – much later than he had intended. Furious, he goes to find Leiter, who is gone. Eventually he finds a note from the CIA man, saying that he couldn’t sleep and decided to go pay The Robber a visit around 5:00 AM. The note instructs Bond to wait and if he’s not back by 10:00 to “call out the militia”.

Bond doesn’t wait. He calls for some “coffee and rolls” and is headed out when he gets a phone call. It’s a Doctor Roberts from Mound Park Hospital asking Bond to come down as there is a Mr Leiter asking for him. He says it’s nothing to worry about…minor concussion from a hit and run job. Bond is relieved and heads to the hospital. But when he gets there, they have no idea what he’s talking about – no Doctor Roberts, no Leiter. He starts to sweat, realizing that someone wanted to lead him away from The Everglades and away from Ourobouros.

He rushes back, and on the way he realizes that there has been a shift in momentum, “the initiative was back in the hands of Mr Big and his machine”. When he arrives, Mrs Stuyvesant tells him without sympathy that his friend should be more careful. She mentions a “nice coloured man” who was in charge of bringing Leiter in on the stretcher. Bond bolts through and into Leiter’s room.

There was the shape of a body on Leiter’s bed. It was covered with a sheet. Over the face, the sheet seemed to be motionless.
Bond gritted his teeth as he leant over the bed. Was there a tiny flutter of movement?
Bond snatched the shroud down from the face. There was no face. Just something wrapped round and round with dirty bandages, like a white wasps’ nest.
He softly pulled the sheet down further. More bandages, still more roughly wound, with wet blood seeping through. Then the top of a sack which covered the lower half of the body. Everything soaked in blood.

Bond telephones for help and notices a note on the body. It’s a very simple message.



Bond is shaken badly, as he waits for the police and surgeon to arrive, he notices that Leiter’s hair is wet. He tastes it and notices it is salty. The authorities arrive and the surgeon does his thing. He says that Leiter will likely live, though it is 50/50. Leiter’s arm is gone (doesn’t say which) and half his left leg. The damage to his face is superficial. He believes it was some sort of big fish that did it.

A car was sent to The Robber’s place, but there was no evidence there and his lawyer quickly springs him from custody. After everyone leaves, Bond gets a call from Leiter’s boss at the CIA. They’d like Bond to move on to Jamaica as quickly as possible. After hanging up, Bond makes a call to the Eastern Garden Aquarium in Miami (A place that did actually exist at that time, not sure if it does now, Google doesn’t bring up a current site) and inquires about where one might be able to buy a shark to put into a lagoon. The answer is clear – there’s only one place – Ourobouros.

The Robber

Live and Let Die Chapter 13

Solitaire excuses herself to tidy up, and Leiter and James Bond have a drink (more Haig and Haig) and talk more in detail about what happened on the train. Leiter has many of the details about what how the attack on their vacated compartment was carried out. They discuss how Mr Big will have everything covered up and alibied and nothing will be traced back to him. Bond makes the remark that “Wooden truncheons wouldn’t make much of a dent in him.” What is a truncheon, you ask? A quick look at the dictionary reveals that it is simply a Billy Club. Bond remarks that this is three times he’s gotten away from Mr Big, who doesn’t make these sorts of mistakes.

They decide to go over and visit the dock where Mr Big’s boat docks every time it is in town, a place called “Ourobouros”. They’re going to go and take a look around. They can also make arrangements for Solitaire’s flight by stopping in at the airport on the way home. She does not want them to leave, saying she has a “feeling”. After Bond reassures her, she lets them go. Bond is still uneasy as he leaves, however.

They go to the car that Leiter has obtained for their use, and we’re treated to more of Bond/Fleming’s thoughts on America, and specifically the cars made in that country.

Most American cars bored him. They lacked personality and the patina of individual craftsmanship that European cars have. They were just Vehicles’, similar in shape and in colour, and even in the tone of their horns. Designed to serve for a year and then be turned in in part exchange for the next year’s model. All the fun of driving had been taken out of them with the abolition of a gear-change, with hydraulic-assisted steering and spongy suspension. All effort had been smoothed away and all of that close contact with the machine and the road that extracts skill and nerve from the European driver. To Bond, American cars were just beetle-shaped Dodgems in which you motored along with one hand on the wheel, the radio full on, and the power-operated windows closed to keep out the draughts.

The car that Leiter has gotten however, is different. It’s an “old Cord”, Bond reflects that it is one of the few American cars with a personality. The car is 15 years old. Live and Let Die was published in 1954, and written in 1953. So the car would have been a 1938 Cord, which is pictured to the right here. Despite it’s age, Bond feels that it is still one of the most modern looking cars in the world.

As they drive, James Bond observes all the old-timers milling about in the town. It depresses him. Once they get down to the waterfront, they are free of the “oldsters”. They find the wharf they are looking for and see a man sitting out front cleaning a rifle. He is not a pleasant man, either in appearance nor in manners. They threaten him, he threatens them, and finally Bond and Leiter leave, having gained nothing. They are fairly certain however, that this is Mr Big’s man down here known as “The Robber”.

On they way back, Bond and Leiter engage in some sophomoric joking about Solitaire and the relationship between her and Bond. He had given Solitaire her own room, while he and Bond would share the other.

On their way home Leiter asked a string of questions about Solitaire. Finally he said casually: ‘By the way, hope I fixed the rooms like you want them.’

‘Couldn’t be better,’ said Bond cheerfully.

‘Fine,’ said Leiter. ‘Just occurred to me you two might be hyphenating.’

‘You read too much Winchell,’ said Bond.

‘It’s just a delicate way of putting it,’ said Leiter. ‘Don’t forget the walls of those cottages are pretty thin. I use my ears for hearing with – not for collecting lip-stick.’

Bond grabbed for a handkerchief. ‘You lousy, goddam sleuth,’ he said furiously.

Leiter watched him scrubbing at himself out of the corner of his eye. ‘What are you doing?’ he asked innocently. ‘I wasn’t for a moment suggesting the colour of your ears was anything but a natural red.

Hyphenating, huh? Interesting. The Winchell reference is of course to Walter Winchell, the famous American gossip columnist who must’ve used that phrase in describing various trysts about celebrities.

They are still laughing when they go into The Everglades, but the laughter quickly ends when they are told that the radio in the huge packing case that “could hardly fit through the door” is not allowed.


Live and Let Die Chapters 10 & 11

Bond is not spotted as he leaves the St Regis and heads to Penn Station to take the train to St Petersburg. However, as soon as he gets out of his cab and enters the station, he is seen and the incident reported. Fleming informs us that there is a last minute replacement of a waiter on the train, with the new man being given specific instructions. Bond is greeted by his Pullman Attendant, Samuel D Baldwin and is shown his compartment. Solitaire is already in the compartment.

She was in a black tailor-made. A wide-mesh veil came down from the rim of a small black straw hat. One gloved hand was up to her throat and through the veil Bond could see that her face was pale and her eyes were wide with fear. She looked rather French and very beautiful.

After a moment of awkwardness, (She kisses his good hand, causing him to frown) she wins him over by taking his pack of Chesterfields cigarettes, opening it, lighting a cigarette and placing it between his lips. He tells her that if she’s going to do that, she’ll be quite busy as he smokes three packs a day! She tells him that Mr Big knows he’s headed for Florida, and has called an operative there called “The Robber” to watch out for him. She explains how she got away from Mr Big that morning…she said she had a singing lesson. Bond orders them some lunch.

Bond ordered Old Fashioneds, and stipulated ‘Old Grandad’ Bourbon, chicken sandwiches, and decaffeined ‘Sanka’ coffee so that their sleep would not be spoilt.

Notice the “decaffeined” rather than “decaffeinated” I’ve seen ads for Sanka coffee from that time period which boast about having all the aroma, but not the “caffein”. They tease and flirt at little bit more throughout the afternoon, until Baldwin comes back and hints that he would like a moment with Bond alone. They get Solitaire next door, and Baldwin confides to Bond that he’s heard that there is someone on board the tree looking to do him in. He gives Bond some wedges to put under the door as a protection. After he leaves, Bond doesn’t reveal to Solitaire the nature of the comments, and they take a nap for the afternoon. Fleming ends the chapter telling us about a negro waiter making a report via Telegraph and sending it back during a 10 minute stop in Philadelphia.

As they approach North Carolina, it is nearing dinner time, and Bond orders several Dry Martinis. He looks at the menu, and decides nothing on there is suitable.

They argued over the menu. The fish was described as being ‘Made From Flaky Tender Boneless Filets’ and the chicken as ‘Delicious French Fried to a Golden Brown, Served Disjointed’. ‘Eyewash,’ said Bond, and they finally ordered scrambled eggs and bacon and sausages, a salad, and some of the domestic Camembert that is one of the most welcome surprises on American menus.

More scrambled eggs for Bond/Fleming. I learned something on this reading of the novel. I had always assumed that the “domestic Camembert” referred to some wine. However, it appears that Bond is referring to some cheese. I found a description of one such cheese made in Michigan: “This domestic camembert is a jewel of a cheese crafted in Michigan by a French cheesemaker. Its flavor is smooth and mushroomy with notes of garlic, and it beats the pants of the mediocre French camemberts now available for import to the U.S. Pair with a pinot noir or a bottle with gamay grapes. ”

I had no idea Bond enjoyed a good cheese in addition to his martini’s, cigarettes and wine.

Bond and Solitaire then have a talk about the power the Mr Big holds over the Negro people. She recalls some of her own history…Fleming’s vehicle for us to gain some insight into her…and how as a child she was given an awful drink that was supposed to protect her for the rest of her life.

Years later, she had found out about the Voodoo drink -a concoction of rum, gunpowder, grave-dirt and human blood. She almost retched as the taste came back to her mouth.

Yuck, indeed. She explains that Mr Big is considered Baron Samedi…the most dreadful spirit in the whole of voodooism. He is a zombie, but the only zombie that has control of his entire spirit. Bond asks why someone doesn’t kill him. Solitaire replies that you can’t kill him…he’s already dead.

After a few more minutes in this discussion, they face each other and begin to kiss. Passionately. Bond’s hand and the situation in which they are in prevent them from going any further, but it appears that they have an understanding that it is going to happen…eventually. She teases him a little more, knowing he can’t have her. He looks for a word to describe it, and she fills in with “Allumeuse”, which as far as I can tell means a sexual tease, or “alluring” tease in French. He puts her to bed in the top bunk, and he sits up, knowing that an attempt on them is likely to happen. He has made arrangements with Baldwin to secretly get off the train at 5:00 AM in Jacksonville. He’s going to stay awake until then. Around 1:00 he hears the door being tried. He sneaks around through the other compartment, hoping to catch the man, but he is to late. The person left them a note, however.

Oh Witch [he read] do not slay me,
Spare me. His is the body.
The divine drummer declares that
When he rises with the dawn
He will sound his drums for YOU in the morning
Very early, very early, very early, very early.
Oh Witch that slays the children of men before they are fully matured
Oh Witch that slays the children of men before they are fully matured
The divine drummer declares that
When he rises with the dawn
He will sound his drums for YOU in the morning
Very early, very early, very early, very early.
We are addressing YOU
And YOU will understand.

Bond lays down on his bed, waiting for daylight.