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.

Live and Let Die

There are moments of great luxury in the life of a secret agent. There are assignments on which he is required to act the part of a very rich man; occasions when he takes refuge in good living to efface the memory of danger and the shadow of death; and times when, as was now the case, he is a guest in the territory of an allied Secret Service.
From the moment the BOAC Stratocruiser taxied up to the International Air Terminal at Idlewild, James Bond was treated like royalty.

And so the second James Bond adventure by Ian Fleming begins.

Bond flies to New York via the famed BOAC Stratocruiser – when flying was about comfort and luxury, as opposed to the SouthWest Airlines and independence Air flights that operate and flourish today on the principle that cheap and fast is always better. I saw one of the few remaining Stratocrusiers last summer when it was on a publicity tour around the country. Quite an impressive plane.

Bond gets the red carpet in that he is escorted directly through to the curb without having to stand in line for Customs screening. A man named Halloran escorts Bond through all the red tape, and they hop into a car to go to Bond’s hotel. After receiving $1000 spending money taken from a busted communist operation, Bond sits back and observes the American landscape. Was it so different 50 years ago?

It was no waste of time to pick up the American idiom again: the advertisements, the new car models and the prices of secondhand ones in the used-car lots; the exotic pungency of the road signs: SOFT SHOULDERS — SHARP CURVES — SQUEEZE AHEAD — SLIPPER WHEN WET; the standard of driving; the number of women at the wheel, the menfolk dociley beside them; the men’s clothes; the way the women were doing their hair; the Civil Defense warnings: IN CASE OF ENEMY ATTACK — KEEP MOVING — GET OFF BRIDGE; the thick rash of television aerials and the impact of TV on hoardings and shop windows; the occasional helicopter; the public appeals for cancer and polio funds: THE MARCH OF DIMES — all the small fleeting impressions that were as important to his trade as are broken bark and bent twigs to a trapper in the jungle.

This book was published in 1954, likely written in 1953. Most things sound very much as you would see today. The comment about women drivers is a little amusing, but the rest of the descriptions would fit today as well.

Bond gets to the hotel – the St Regis and is greeted by Captain Dexter, as Bond is introduced a traffic incident catches his eye…a smart, decisive bit of driving by a black sedan pulling in front of a cab. Bond is startled that a “negress” was at the wheel serving as chauffeur. The passenger also catches Bond’s eye “a huge grey-black face which had turned slowly towards him and looked directly at him.” Bond knows who the car belongs to…Fleming doesn’t tell us how…yet…but he wonders if the person in the back was “Mr Big”. Bond is taken up to his room where Captain Dexter has a surprise for him…Felix Leiter is waiting in his room for him.

Apparently Bond and Leiter are to team up once again in this operation on American soil. Captain Dexter also informs Bond that “Mr Hoover instructs me to say that he’s very pleased to have you along. As our guest.”, a reference to legendary FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. They then get some food brought into the room.

‘Soft-shell crabs with tartare sauce, flat beef Hamburgers, medium-rare, from the charcoal grill, french-fried potatoes, broccoli, mixed salad with thousand-island dressing, ice-cream with melted butterscotch and as good a Liebfraumilch as you can get in America.’

They sit down and eat this “delicious course of American cooking at its rare best” as described by Fleming. That’s the best they could get? Or was it Fleming taking a little shot at American cuisine? After eating, they settle in to talk about the case that has brought them together. Bond reflects back to the bitter January day when he was called into M’s office.

The End

We will wrap up the novel Casino Royale in this post.

Bond and Vesper are still on their recuperation vacation following the operation in Royale. There is still some disturbing behavior going on from Vesper, but in chapter 24, she seems to get herself together for a little bit. Bond returns to his room to find his things laid out nicely and a bath drawn for him by Vesper. He tells her he wants her, and she wants lobster and tells him to get ready. They go to dinner, an elaborate one probably lasting a couple hours. During the meal they exchange excited looks and touches of their hands and feet. Vesper says that she doesn’t deserve such treatment and Bond thinks she’s going into a vin triste. (alcohol induced melancholy.) They make some jokes about people being islands, and their islands feeling close, and Bond proposes they make a peninsula.

They have their dessert and coffee and Vesper goes to her room. Bond waits a while, smoking and waiting for her light to go out. He finally goes up.

The moonlight shone through the half-closed shutters and lapped at the secret shadows in the snow of her body on the broad bed.

That’s all we get. No detailed description on the night of passion. In fact, Bond awakens in his own room. He again goes down to the beach to reflect and think. He actually sits at the bottom of the ocean for a full minute and then pops up to the surface, hoping Vesper is walking towards the beach so he can startle her. She’s not there. He then lays on the beach as he did the night before. He thinks.

After a while he rose and walked back slowly along the beach to his pyjama-coat.
That day he would ask Vesper to marry him. He was quite certain. It was only a question of choosing the right moment.

Surprised? Fleming decides to play this card and see where it goes. Bond is heading back to the room when he sees Vesper coming from a phone booth. She is startled to see him, and acts suspiciously, giving a flimsy excuse for her needing to make a secretive phone call. Bond presses the issues a little, trying to get her to tell him the truth, but she keeps trying to patch her deceit.

That was the end of the integrity of their love. The succeeding days were a shambles of falseness and hyprocrisy, mingled with her tears and moments of animal passion to which she abandoned herself with a greed made indecent by the hollowness of their days.

Each day it just gets worse. One day during lunch, a man appears, also eating lunch there, and Vesper again acts terrified. She insists it is the same man she thought was following them when they traveled out to the Inn. The man has a black patch over one eye…not taped but screwed in, like a monocle. Vesper cannot stand to be there any longer, despite Bond\’s assurances. She leaves the table under the excuse of a headache. Bond remains, hoping to observe the man and get to the bottom of the situation. He doesn’t really learn much, but gets the number plate and talks to the patron about the man. He appears to be a Swiss banker.

The next couple days are much the same. Vesper actually takes a cab into Royale under the pretense of getting some medicine. When she returns, there’s more drama.

That night she made a special effort to be gay. She drank a lot of and when they went upstairs, she led him into her bedroom and made passionate love to him. Bond’s body responded, but afterwards she cried bitterly into her pillow and Bond went to his room in grim despair.

Bond cannot sleep and hears her again going down to the phone booth. He continues to wonder what is going on. The man with the patch returns on Sunday. Bond has had him checked out by Mathis, and there is nothing really suspicious there. This is not comforting to Vesper, and Bond tells her that she need to either tell him what is going on, or that they need to leave. Bond tells her that he had planned to ask her to marry him. She is moved, and asks for some time alone. She says she’s trying to do what’s best for both of them. That evening, they have dinner and she again tries to be happy. She drinks a lot again and tells Bond to come quickly to her room as she wants him badly tonight. He goes and Bond feels all could be well again, “The barriers of self-consciousness and mistrust seemed to have vanished.” They lay in bed for a while, and then she tells Bond he must leave. Before he goes, she turns to light on because she wants to look at him. Her eyes are full of tears, and she kisses him and turns out the light.

Bond is awakened the next morning by the patron, who has a letter for Bond and tells him there has been a terrible accident. Vesper is dead. She has taken a bottle of sleeping pills. He sits down and opens the letter. After telling Bond she loves him with all her heart, she reveals that she is a double agent, working for the Russians. She was basically forced into it after her lover in the Royal Air Force was captured by them. She explains a lot such as how his arrival at Royale was known ahead of time, how the microphones got into his room, how Le Chiffre’s gunman was able to get so close to him at the casino and how she staged the kidnapping. She explains the phone calls she’s had to keep making this week. She tries to give some helpful information about her contacts and handlers. She ends again telling Bond she loves him.

Bond’s eyes get wet, but only momentarily. He goes to the telephone booth. It’s now behind him. He’s a professional, now only thinking of the mess this has made for his service, all the damage that has been done by her…this spy. He makes up his mind that he is going to hunt down and destroy SMERSH. Before that, he needs to inform headquarters. His exchange his short and these are the last lines of the book. Memorable lines, indeed.

‘This is 007 speaking. This is an open line. It’s an emergency. Can you hear me? Pass this on at once. 3030 was a double, working for Redland.
‘Yes, dammit, I said “was”. The bitch is dead now.’

I remember finding a whole set of Bond books in my great-grandfather’s garage almost 20 years ago. I found Casino Royale, as I knew it was the first book in the James Bond series. I opened the book to the last page and read those lines. I was hooked. What led to this point? I had to read the whole book. Which I did. As well as all the others I could get my hands on. Now I’m doing it again. The next book to be recapped here will be Live and Let Die. I hope you’ll join me in this adventure as well.