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.

Heading South

Live and Let Die Chapter 9

Back in his hotel room, Bond pours himself a stiff drink of Haig and Haig with some ice. His finger is nearly black by this point. He picks up the phone and calls Leiter. They exchange details of their experiences, turns out Leiter actually made friends with one of his guardians by talking Jazz with him. They make preparations for dealing with the inevitable flak that will ensue from Bond’s adventures. Already Mr Big has complained to the police, claiming Bond went nuts and killed two chauffeurs and a waiter.

Bond needs to make a call back to London and in the 1950’s, an overseas call was a bit more complicated that it is today. He calls the Overseas Operator, and waits for the call back with the connection. After ten minutes, it rings.

He listened to the zing and echo on the line, the chatter of distant operators, the patches of Morse from aircraft and ships at sea, quickly suppressed. He could see the big, grey building near Regents Park and imagine the busy switchboard and the cups of tea and a girl saying, ‘Yes, this is Universal Export,’ the address Bond had asked for, one of the covers used by agents for emergency calls on open lines from abroad.

He finally gets through to “M” and they have a pretty amusing exchange in “code speak”. Bond acts like a salesman on assignment, noting that three of the customer’s men went sick, he got a little flu, that he and his secretary “Felicia” will be heading to “San Pedro” tomorrow. He pictures “M” translating the call on the other end to the Chief of Staff. This is Fleming’s way of telling us what Bond actually said.

Leiter calls back and gives Bond the arrangements for tomorrow.

Bond is to leave via Pennsylvania Station on “The Silver Phantom” to St. Petersburg. He’s been given a very luxurious compartment, and will leave at 10:30 in the morning. He’ll be in Florida by midday the next day. Leiter will be flying down via Eastern Airlines. (Remember them?) Bond is then attended to by the Police surgeon, who tells him his finger was a clean fracture and that it should heal in a few days. Huh? He had it snapped all the way back…a few days?

Bond then receives another phone call. He was expecting a rebuke from the police or FBI, but instead, the voice belongs to Solitaire. She is calling from a drugstore and begs Bond to help her get away from Mr Big. Bond is understandably suspicious, but decides to take a chance. He tells her to meet him at Pennsylvania Station and not to be seen. He wonders afterward if he has been foolish. He then orders a hearty breakfast.

‘Room Service, good morning,’ said the golden voice. ‘Breakfast, please,’ said Bond. ‘Pineapple juice, double. Cornflakes and cream. Shirred eggs with bacon. Double portion of Cafe Espresso. Toast and marmalade.’ ‘Yes, Sir,’ said the girl. She repeated the order. ‘Right away.’ ‘Thank you.’ ‘You’re welcome.’ Bond grinned to himself. ‘The condemned man made a hearty breakfast,’ he reflected.

Shirred eggs are eggs which are baked in individual dishes with a little bit of cream:

1) For each serving, lightly butter individual baking dish.

2) Break one or two eggs into each dish. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon 1 tablespoon milk or cream over eggs (spooning a liquid over the eggs can help prevent drying out).

3) Bake in a preheated 325° F oven approximately 12 to 14 minutes, depending on number of servings being baked. Check the eggs after about 10 minutes baking time. When done, the whites should be completely set and the yolks beginning to thicken but not hard.

So there you go. You can eat the same breakfast as James Bond.

The chapter ends back at Mr Big’s communications centre, where “Whisper” is giving out Bond’s description to all the “eyes” once again. Telling them to watch particularly the highways, airports and railroads.

Something To Be Remembered By

Live and Let Die Chapter 8

Bond has been “cleared” by Solitaire, but Mr Big isn’t done with him. After instructing “Blabbermouth” via intercom to hurt Leiter “considerably”, he turns his attention to Bond.

Bond curses him and Mr Big then says that they must leave him something to remember them by. He asks him which finger he uses the least, and then answers the question for him. The little finger of his left hand. He then instructs Tee-Hee to break that finger. Tee-Hee does this simply by taking Bond’s little finger and bending it back until it breaks. Bond faints at the pain. While he is unconscious, Mr Big takes his gun and removes the bullets. They wake Bond up and give his gun back to him. Mr Big then launches into a grandiose speech telling Bond why he has spared his life.

Basically, Mr Big has gone as far as he can in his profession and is now bored. He has fallen “prey to what the early Christians called “accidie”. (A religious dictionary defines that term as “Accidie is analogous to sloth as one of the seven deadly sins”) He’s more interested in the “artistic” side of things. He likes to carry out his operations with a flair.

Because the nature of my operations demands it and because I admire the self-negation of the anonymous artist. If you will allow the conceit, I see myself sometimes as one of those great Egyptian fresco painters who devoted their lives to producing masterpieces in the tombs of kings, knowing that no living eye would ever see them.’ The great eyes closed for a moment. ‘However, let us return to the particular. The reason, Mister Bond, why I have not killed you this morning is because it would give me no aesthetic pleasure to blow a hole in your stomach.’

He casually admits that it would be a nuisance, nothing more than that, should Leiter and Bond disappear or be killed and people start coming around asking questions. He says that this is a warning, and that Bond is to return to England and Leiter to transfer to another assignment tomorrow. He then dismisses Bond, ordering Tee-Hee to take him “into Central Park and throw him in the ornamental water”. Tee-Hee grabs him roughly and ushers him out the door. Bond’s mind is plotting how to take him out. He gets his chance by pretending to stumble a little and then hitting him in the groin. He then takes his empty gun and clubs him over the head and kicks him over the stairwell.

As Bond goes down the stairs, he passes what must be Mr Big’s communication centre. He wishes he could make a quick raid, but with a bad hand and not knowing how many men are in the room, he can’t take the chance. He takes Tee-Hee’s gun from his “dead or dying” body and reaches the garage door, hearing the running engine inside. He has the advantage of surprise on the two men inside, and manages to take them both out with Tee-Hee’s gun and get in the car and get out of there. Once out, he has no idea where he’s going.

He wildly drives until he comes to the intersection of Park Avenue and 116th street. He keeps going, turning off just before what would become the Trump Towers at 60th street. He then ditches the car and gets a cab to take him to the St Regis. There, he gets a message from Leiter to call him at once. He’s relieved that this means they’re both alive.

Comic copyright their orginal owners. No copyright infringement is intended.

Into The Lair Of Mr Big

Live and Let Die Chapters 6 & 7

Bond and Leiter arrive at “The Boneyard” at about 12:45 AM. They are quickly shown to what appears to be a great table. The waiter tells them they had a reservation that hadn’t shown , and that Bond and Leiter can have their table. They sit down and order Scotch-and-soda and chicken sandwiches. They sit back for while and take in the scene.

It was not a large room, perhaps sixty foot square. There were about fifty tables and the customers were packed in like black olives in a jar. It was hot and the air was thick with smoke and the sweet, feral smell of two hundred negro bodies. The noise was terrific – an undertone of the jabber of negroes enjoying themselves without restraint, punctuated by sharp bursts of noise, shouts and high giggles, as loud voices called to each other across the room.

After a while, the MC comes on stage and introduces the main act. It’s a girl known as “G-G”, who does an erotic dance to Voodoo drummers. The act is intense and Fleming is quite descriptive in his account. She strips down to almost nothing, (after not having hardly anything on to begin with) and the crowd urges for it all to come off. The MC comes on again and announces that she will…but the lights will be off. Then, the lights do go off.

Suddenly all his senses were alert. The howling of the mob was disappearing, rapidly. At the same time he felt cold air on his face. He felt as if he was sinking. ‘Hey,’ shouted Leiter. His voice was close but it sounded hollow. Christ! thought Bond. Something snapped shut above his head. He put his hand out behind him. It touched a moving wall a foot from his back. ‘Lights,’ said a voice, quietly. At the same time both his arms were gripped. He was pressed down in his chair.

Bond and Leiter find themselves prisoners…apparently on a floor under where they just where. The table was rigged to drop out slowly from under them. After a brief show of resistance, Bond and Leiter are told to say their goodbyes to each as “‘Yo is unlikely be seein’ yoselves agin.” Bond is taken off down the hallway.

At the start of the next chapter, Bond is taken through what appears to be a liquor warehouse and into an office.

He is greeted by Mr Big himself. Bond is told to sit down, and his arm is released, much to his relief. He then takes in the figure in front of him. A “great football of a head, twice the normal size”. He notes that the eyes are animal, not human and that his nose is “wide without being particularly negroid”. Even though Mr Big has a huge head, is fits with the rest of his body, which is six and half foot tall. Bond notices his huge flat hands, and curiously, a “very small ivory riding-crop with a long thin white lash”. There is no smell of smoke or cigarettes in this office. Around the office, there are many bookshelves, all filled with books, and a scarecrow figure of Baron Samedi in the corner of the office. Mr Big dismisses the man known as “Miami” while instructing “Tee-Hee” to remain. He then tells Bond that he is allowed to smoke. At the same time he gives a warning however. The desk which bond is sitting in front of contains a secret, deadly weapon.

Bond is impressed by the efficiency and neatness of all of Mr Big’s tricks. He lights his cigarette and ponders his situation. He realizes he is unlikely to be harmed. He just arrived in New York. It would be “clumsy” for him to disappear so quickly. He was more concerned about the fate of Leiter “in the hands of those clumsy black apes”. ( I don’t think you could’ve gotten away with that line today, Ian) Mr Big then starts talking to Bond, talking about his double-O number – whether Bond has been sent here to kill Mr Big. He says that he requires an answer from Bond and that he has ways of determining the truth. Bond believes him, and chooses a cover story involving the gold coins circulating in America. He terms Leiter as a member of the American Treasury who has been helping him with the case. Mr Big immediately corrects Bond, stating that Leiter is a member of the CIA. He then instructs Tee-Hee to tie Bond to his chair.

A “Miss Solitaire” is then brought into the room, and Bond observes her as one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. Mr Big says that he is going to marry this girl as she possesses telepathic powers he does not understand. She can divine the truth in people. He also tells Bond that she will have nothing to do with men, thus her name “Solitaire”. He then instructs her to tell him if Bond is lying to him. She sits down very close to Bond, and Bond takes a look at her.
Her face was pale, with the pallor of white families that have lived long in the tropics. But it contained no trace of the usual exhaustion which the tropics impart to the skin and hair. The eyes were blue, alight and disdainful, but, as they gazed into his with a touch of humour, he realized they contained some message for him personally. It quickly vanished as his own eyes answered. Her hair was blue-black and fell heavily to her shoulders. She had high cheekbones and a wide, sensual mouth which held a hint of cruelty. Her jawline was delicate and finely cut. It showed decision and an iron will which were repeated in the straight, pointed nose. Part of the beauty of the face lay in its lack of compromise.

She has an evening dress on, wears a few diamonds on her ears and wrist, but has no rings and no enamel on her fingernails. In those last details, she is similar to Vesper in Casino Royale. Fleming doesn’t like his women to have long nails or polish on them. She then does a remarkable thing. She rests her arms in her lap and draws them together towards Bond, revealing the “valley between her breasts”. This invokes a strong reaction from Mr Big, who strikes her with the riding crop described earlier.

She then is at attention, shuffling her cards and in doing so sends Bond another message. He can hardly believe it. Mr Big asks if she is ready, and asks Bond to repeat the story he just told him about the coins and reasons for his presence in New York. Bond repeats what he said earlier and looks into the eyes of Miss Solitaire. Her eyes are looking through him, containing no message. There is silence in the room. Bond tries to appear indifferent, starting at the ceiling, then back at her. She focuses again, and looks at Mr Big. Finally she speaks.

‘He speaks the truth,’ she said coldly.

And the adventure is just beginning.

Comics copyright their orginal owners. No copyright infringement is intended.

Harlem Night

Live and Let Die Chapter 5

Bond and Leiter head into Harlem in the next chapter, which has the unfortunate title of “Nigger Heaven”.

They get on a bus into the city and are immediately spotted by the “Eyes” and reported back to “Whisper”. Bond is the one they identify by virtue of his scar. Leiter, who had dyed his hair is not recongnized right away.

The two of them head into Sugar Ray’s – A nightclub owned by the former world welterweight and middleweightboxing champion. They each have a “Scotch-and-soda – Haig and Haig Pinch-bottle” and examine their surroundings. Next comes a rather uncomfortable section of the book in which Bond and Leiter listen in to the conversation of a couple behind them, trying to understand what they’re saying. Bond gets a “whiff of expensive hair-straightener” and Leiter encourages him to listen and see if he can understand what they are saying. Fleming attempts to capture the dialect of the 1950’s African American by writing their conversation as follows:

‘Cmon, honey,’ wheedled the girl. ‘How come yuh-all’s actin’ so tahd tonight?’

‘Guess ah jist nacherlly gits tahd listenin’ at yuh,’ said the man languidly. ‘Why’nt yuh hush yo’ mouff’n let me ‘joy mahself ‘n peace ‘n qui-yet.’

‘Is yuh wan’ me tuh go ‘way, honey?’

‘Yuh kin suit yo sweet self.’

‘Aw, honey,’ pleaded the girl. ‘Don’ ack mad at me, honey. Ah was fixin’ tuh treat yuh tonight. Take yuh tuh Smalls Par’dise, mebbe. See dem high-yallers shakin’ ‘n truckin’. Dat Birdie Johnson, da maitre d’, he permis me a ringside whenebber Ah come nex’.

The man’s voice suddenly sharpened. ‘Wha’ dat Birdie he mean tuh yuh, hey?’ he asked suspiciously. Terzackly,’ he paused to let the big word sink in, ‘perzackly wha’ goes’tween yuh ‘n dat lowdown ornery wuthless Nigguh? Yuh sleepin’ wid him mebbe? Guess Ah gotta study ’bout dat little situayshun’tween yuh an’ Birdie Johnson. Mebbe git mahself a betterer gal. Ah jist don’ lak gals which runs off ever’ which way when Ah jist happen be busticated tem-poraneously. Yesmam. Ah gotta study ’bout dat little situayshun.’ He paused threateningly. ‘Sure have,’ he added.

‘Aw, honey,’ the girl was anxious. ‘ ‘dey ain’t no use tryin’ tuh git mad at me. Ah done nuthen tuh give yuh recasion tuh ack dat way. Ah jist thunk you mebbe preshiate a ringside at da Par’disc ‘nstead of settin’ hyah countin’ yo troubles. Why, honey, yuh all knows Ah wudden fall fo’ dat richcrat ack’ of Birdie Johnson. No sir. He don’ mean nuthen tuh me. Him duh wusstes’ man ‘n Harlem, dawg bite me effn he ain’t. All da same, he permis me da bestess seats ‘nda house ‘n Ah sez let’s us go set ‘n dem, ‘n have us a beer ‘n a good time. Gmon, honey. Let’s git out of hyah. Yuh done look so swell ‘n Ah jist wan’ mah frens tuh see usn together.’

‘Yuh done look okay yoself, honeychile,’ said the man, mollified by the tribute to his elegance, ‘an’ dat’s da troof. But Ah mus’ spressify dat yuh stays close up tuh me an keeps yo eyes offn dat lowdown trash ‘n his hot pants. ‘N Ah may say,’ he added threateningly,’ dat ef Ah ketches yuh makin’ up tuh dat dope Ah’ll jist nachrally whup da hide off’n yo sweet ass.’

‘Shoh ting, honey,’ whispered the girl excitedly.

Bond heard the man’s foot scrape off the seat to the ground.

‘Cmon, baby, lessgo. Waiduh!’

Just seeing that in print makes me wince, though I don’t believe Fleming was in any way being racist or saying that the blacks were less intelligent. In fact, Leiter remarks to Bond that they are just the same as everyone else, some interests and concerns. They then try to get a handle on where Mr Big might be operating that night, and the waiter simply says ‘I’ve got a wife’n kids, Boss’ – ending the conversation.

They move on soon after, heading down to Ma Fraizer’s for the best food in Harlem. As they walk, Bond observes the surroundings, noting the amount of attention given to “lucky charms and various occultisms”, noting that in Voodoo, Mr Big has harnessed the best possible vehicle for enducing fear among his constituents. They get to Ma Fraziers and have want Leiter terms “the national dish” a meal consisting of ” Little Neck Clams and Fried Chicken Maryland with bacon and sweet corn.” They move on to the Savoy, and while there Leiter goes to the mens room and for $20 learns that Mr Big will be at The Boneyard later that night. They hit a few other spots, with the “Eyes” following them all the way until their final destination. When it is determined that they are on their way, preparations are made for their arrival. Table “Z” is to be theirs, and although there is already people at that table, they are whisked away and the table cleaned off.

Meanwhile Mr. Big had made two more calls on the house-phone. One to the Master of Ceremonies. ‘Lights out at the end of G-G’s act.’ ‘Yes, Sir, Boss,’ said the MC with alacrity. The other call was to four men who were playing craps in the basement. It was a long call, and very detailed.

Back From The Dead

Live and Let Die Chapter 12

Bond and Solitaire quietly leave the train at 5:00 am in Jacksonville, thanks to the assistance of the helpful Porter, Baldwin. They slip off, book tickets on the next train and head over to find some breakfast in an all night diner. It’s more scrambled eggs for the two of them, and Bond/Fleming have more comments on American cooking and food.

The scrambled eggs’ll be cooked with milk,’ said Bond. ‘But one can’t eat boiled eggs in America. They look so disgusting without their shells, mixed up in a tea-cup the way they do them here. God knows where they learned the trick. From Germany, I suppose. And bad American coffee’s the worst in the world, worse even than in England. I suppose they can’t do much harm to the orange juice. After all we are in Florida now.’

While they eat, the talk some about Florida and St Petersburg, Solitaire knows quite a bit about the place and the community, including the fact that they have a couple of baseball teams called the “Kids” and the “Kubs” and that all the players are over 75 years old! Florida then, as it is now is full of senior citizens. However back then, there wasn’t much crime, so there wasn’t much in the way of law enforcement in the area. This made it a perfect place for Mr Big to operate.

Bond continues to get information from Solitaire about Mr Big’s organization, he takes some brief notes on some of the things she tells him. Bond however, doesn’t tell her anything about what he knows, despite his “growing warmth” towards her. They catch the train and continue on their way to St Petersburg, getting off at Clearwater, intending to drive the rest of the way there. They are spotted by a negro cab driver, who recognizes Solitaire after she has taken her veil off. He makes a report to “The Robber”, who has his own orders, but doesn’t know how Solitaire fits in.

They arrive at their accommodations in The Everglades, where Mr Leiter is expecting them. He seems stunned to see them. After answering his phone and informing the caller that Bond has arrived, he sits down saying that for the second time in the last 24 hours he hadn’t expected to see Bond ever again. Bond informs him that Solitaire is now “on their side”.

‘That’s a break,’ said Leiter. ‘Well, you won’t have seen the papers or heard the radio, so I’ll give you the headlines first. The Phantom was stopped soon after Jacksonville. Between Waldo and Ocala. Your compartment was tommy-gunned and bombed. Blown to bits. Killed the Pullman porter who was in the corridor at the time. No other casualties. Bloody uproar going on. Who did it? Who’s Mr. Bryce and who’s Mrs. Bryce? Where are they? Of course we were sure you’d been snatched. The police at Orlando are in charge. Traced the bookings back to New York. Found the FBI had made them. Everyone comes down on me like a load of bricks. Then you walk in with a pretty girl on your arm looking as happy as a clam.’

Bond hands him the note that ended the last chapter and Solitaire also sees it for the first time. She’s glad Bond had not shown it to her. Bond suggests that they fly Solitaire over to Jamaica for safety the next day. Leiter says she can fly “KLM or Panam” tommorow afternoon. (Not really related but those two airlines would combine for one of the worst disasters in Airline history- 583 dead – a little more than 20 years later in Tenerife, Spain.) Solitaire seems distant as she agrees to the arangement. Bond notes the far away look he has seen before.

Whispers In The Dark

Live and Let Die Chapter 4

Bond spends the next morning on Fifth Avenue and Broadway, checking out various shops, watching crowds and trying to assimilate himself into the American culture. He then goes to police headquarters (NYPD?) and talks with a Lieutenant Binswanger of Homicide about Mr Big’s police record. He gets details from the Coast Guard on the movements of Mr Big’s yacht, the Secatur and its regular trips into St Petersburg to the wharf of the ‘Ourobourous Worm and Bait Shippers Inc’ a company with an unusual sideline in rare poisonous species of aquarium fish for research departments. They look at FBI records of attempted taps of the Secatur’s wireless transmission, which were fruitless because the messages are short and always spoken in a secret Voodoo speech. Despite all the surveillance, about a hundred of the coins are still showing up on the streets of New York each week.

After some complaints from Binswanger about “Mr Hoover” not taking any action, Bond rejoins Dexter and is told that he is headed to St Petersburg with Leiter tomorrow. Bond remarks that he’d like to go and take a look around Harlem that night. Dexter agrees, with the condition that they not show themselves too much.

‘This case isn’t ripe yet. Until it is, our policy with Mr Big is “live and let live”.’
Bond looked quizzically at Captain Dexter.
‘In my job,’ he said, ‘when I come up against a man like this one, I have another motto. It’s “live and let die.”.’

So there you have the title of the book. With the encouraging words “Stay alive” Dexter departs from Bond and Leiter, who then go about making their plans for the night. They take an amusing cab ride back to the hotel:

Leiter wound down a window.
‘Whaddya want ter do?’ asked the driver over his shoulder. ‘Gimme pneumony?’

They get back to the hotel, where Bond goes and takes a nap before the big night on the town. Before going to sleep, Bond yearns for London. Meanwhile, a neat, efficient machine is in motion. At a big switchboard, ‘The Whisper’ is startled into action by a blinking light…Mr Big himself.

‘Tell all “Eyes”,’ said a slow , deep voice, ‘to watch out from now on. Three men.’ A brief description of Leiter, Bond and Dexter followed. ‘May be coming in this evening or tomorrow. Tell them to watch particularly on First to Eight and the other Avenues. The night spots too, in case they’re missed coming in. They’re not to be molested. Call me when you get a sure fix. Got it?”

“Whisper” immediately springs into action, sending the command to all corners of the network.

Bond awakens, prepares for the night, including putting on a pair of steel toed shoes he had hidden from the Americans who had taken his “British” clothes, and goes to meet Leiter in the bar for a drink.

Leiter orders them Martini’s made with “House of Lords” gin, saying that this “American” gin had a higher proof than English gin. However, as you can see from the ad to the right, “House of Lords” is distilled by Booth’s and imported from England. (Not to mention you can’t get much more British than having Rex Harrison as the endorser. Harrison, by the way, was being considered for the role of James Bond right around the time this ad was on the market.) A mistake by Fleming? It appears that way. While they drink, Leiter talks about Harlem, how it has changed, how they will have to watch out, simply because they are white. He assures Bond however, “I like the negroes and they know it somehow.” He speaks of articles he’s written for local papers about jazz and the local negro theatre. The chapter finishes with the two of them eager to start into Harlem for the evening, and Bond itching for some action.

He’ll get it.

A Friendly Calling Card

Live and Let Die Chapter 3

It is now 10 days later, and Bond awakens in his hotel room in New York. He reflects on his briefings with M, Dexter and Leiter, and thinks about the man who will be his opposition in this case. Buonaparte Ignace Gallia, or Mr BIG. Long before the Notorious B.I.G. or the “Mr Big” of the HBO series Sex and the City, there was the original BIG, Ian Fleming’s gangster. Mr Big has an interesting background, having been initiated into Voodoo as a child, starting his life of crime with a string of call-girls in Harlem, but then serving with the Office of Strategic Services, who game him special training during WWII. While on assignment in Marseilles, he came into contact with a Soviet spy, who apparently recruited him to Moscow. When he returned to America, his crime empire grew, and he attained great power among the “lower strata of the negro world” by his reputation as Baron Semedi himself….Prince of Darkness. The connection between Mr BIG and SMERSH appears to be very clear. Bond also reflects at the genius behind his operation.

And what a brilliant set-up for dealing with the smaller fry of the negro underworld and for keeping a colored information network well up to the mark! — the fear of Voodoo and the supernatural, still deeply, primevally ingrained in the negro subconscious! And what genius to have, as a beginning, the whole transport system of America under surveillance, the trains, the porters, the truck-drivers, the stevedores!

Bond fears and admires the “cold, brilliant efficiency of the Soviet Machine.” He also is eager for a chance to strike back at them, and leaps out of bed, ready to strike a blow. First though, he needs breakfast. “Half a pint of orange juice, three eggs, lightly scrambled, with bacon, a double portion of café Espresso with cream. Toast. Marmalade.” While he waits for his food, he reflects on the changes that the Americans made to his appearance in order to allow him to blend in more while in the country. He is fitting for two single breasted suits, “chilly white nylon shirts with long points to the collars” as well as a number of “unusually patterned foulard ties, dark socks with fancy clocks” and other essentials. They give him a Grey Fedora with a black ribbon, a pair of horn-rimmed glasses, and give him a military haircut. I hadn’t known what the word “Foulard” meant before, a quick search tells me that is signifies “A lightweight twill or plain-woven fabric of silk or silk and cotton, usually having a small printed design” I have a hard time picturing James Bond with a buzz cut and horn-rimmed glasses… He is also given a lesson in American speech patterns.

He was reminded to ask for the ‘check’ rather than the ‘bill’, to say ‘cab’ instead of ‘taxi’ and (this from Leiter) to avoid words of more than two syllables. (’You can get through any American conversation,’ advised Leiter, ‘with “Yeah”. “Nope” and “Sure”.’) The English word to be avoided at all costs, added Leiter, was ‘Ectually’. Bond had said that this word was not part of his vocabulary.

Hmmm. I have a feeling this is more Fleming taking shots at the stupid slug-like Americans, who are not capable of real conversations. Bond showers, and then walks naked into the lobby…I’m assuming the lobby of his hotel suite…to retrieve some packages.

He then spends some time reading The Travellers Tree by Patrick Leigh Fermor. There is an extensive passage quoted in Live and Let Die from the book, dealing with Haiti and Voodoo practices and terrible rites involved as well as Baron Samedi. The book was recommended to him by M. Interestingly as of this writing, Patrick Leigh Fermor is still alive, and even had written a book as recently as 2003. The book The Travellers Tree can still be found at certain resellers as well. I just think that’s pretty neat…a guy referenced in a Fleming book, whose book is being read by Bond, is still around.

Breakfast comes, and Bond is interrupted from his reading. Another package has come along with the breakfast and Bond doesn’t pay much attention to it until he hears a tiny ‘tick-tock…tick-tock…tick-tock.’ He dives behind a table, wondering if the book has put his nerves on edge. It keeps ticking…and then the alarm goes off. Since nothing happens with the package when the alarm starts, Bond relaxes. He knows that bombs with clocks are triggered when the alarm goes off. It rings for 30 seconds or so, slows down, and suddenly there is small explosion. Bond is unhurt, though some glasses are broken in the room. He calls Dexter, who calls in Trippe, from the sabotage unit. They go through the debris, and see that the bomb had an acid trigger which was activated by the alarm, but takes 30 seconds to shoot a blank 4-bore elephant gun cartridge. They also find a message in a cylinder in the rubble.


Bond is concerned because there has obviously been a leak somewhere. He dismisses Dexter by referring to the bomb as a calling card, which he must return.

Mr Big – A Great Negro Criminal

So after being wined and dined by the Americans, Bond reflects back to the events that sent him to New York. We have another mention of Bond’s 1933 4 1/2-litre Grey Bentley convertible with the Amherst-Villiers supercharger as Bond drives to work, having been called at midnight the previous night by the Chief of Staff informing him that M wanted to see him at 9:00 the next morning. The only clues he receives about what is in store is that it involves the American and Caribbean stations.

It’s been about 5 or 6 months since the events of Casino Royale. You’ll recall that the Bond’s recovery from his beating at the hands of Le Chiffre took place in July, and it is now January. He’s had surgery to repair the back of his hand, which had been “branded” by the SMERSH assassin. Apparently since those events there has been a change of power in the KGB as Bond reflects on who might control SMERSH since “Beria was gone”. It’s a reference to Lavrentii Beria. It’s an interesting story. According the an article on the webpage for the PBS television network:

After Stalin died in March 1953, a power struggle broke out in Moscow. Several Soviet leaders were worried that Beria was hoping to become as powerful as Stalin had been. And so in July of that year, Nikita Khrushchev arranged to have him arrested, denouncing him as an agent of international imperialism. Beria was tried in secret and found guilty. A Soviet general executed him in his underground cell, and according to a witness Beria crawled on his knees begging for mercy.

Beria was the head of the Soviet secret police. He was executed on December 23rd, 1953, just weeks or even days before Bond is summoned to M’s office. When Bond enters the office, M wants to take a look at his hand, to see how it has healed up.

After satisfying himself with Bond’s hand, M goes into the reason for Bond’s visit. Gold coins dated from 1510 to 1644 are appearing on the American market. They’re rumored to have been part of Bloody Morgan’s treasure. While they’re discussing this, we see an interesting peek at the M/Bond relationship.

M paused to fill his pipe and light it. He didn't invite Bond to smoke and Bond would not have thought of doing so uninvited.

We know enjoys his cigarettes, but his respect for M is that he’s not going to take the liberty of smoking in front of M without being invited to do so. In any event, these coins are flooding the American market and showing up everywhere, but usually in the hands of “negroes –porters, sleeping-car attendants, truck-drivers — and getting the money well spread over the States.” The story behind the money is that it is part of Blackbeard’s treasure. Supposedly found in North Carolina in 1928. M, however has intelligence indicating that this money is originating from Jamaica, and is in fact part of the Bloody Morgan treasure. They’ve been watching a yacht that has been making trips from Jamaica to the Florida Keys onto St Petersburg. The yacht belongs to Mr Big. A negro gangster. More interestingly, one of Mr Big’s lieutenants used a twenty dollar bill that had been traced back to a Communist double agent. The belief is that the treasure is being used to finance the American operations of the Soviet espionage system.

They talk a little bit about Mr Big, his background, noting that he is a known member of SMERSH. Bond remarks that he’s surprised that he has reached this level.

'I don't think I've ever heard of a great negro criminal before,' said Bond, 'Chinamen, of course, the men behind the opium trade. There've been some big-time Japs, mostly in pearls and drugs. Plenty of negroes mixed up in diamonds and gold in Africa, but always in a small way. They don't seem to take to big business. Pretty law-abiding chaps I should have thought, except when they've drunk too much.'

More cringe-inducing comments there. Very dated, but again, it’s the 1950’s. M adds to this by noting that the negroes are putting out great scientists, doctors and writers, they’re due for a great criminal. In Casino Royale, we had the comments about women, in Live and Let Die, it’s about the African-Americans. There will be plenty more borderline racist comments in this book, and the lingo used by Fleming is painful at times. In any event, once Bond learns that Mr Big is a member of SMERSH, he is immediately interested and wants to destroy him and his organization because of what they did to him and how they turned Vesper just 5 or 6 months previous.