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Showing posts from July, 2014

Doctor No by Ian Fleming

Cover image © Penguin. Once more the summer James Bond novel tradition is resurrected. This year, with the beaches of the Asturias and Cantabria regions of Spain as my backdrop, and the promise of chorizo and sidra in the evenings to come, I set about reading Doctor No (1958) by Ian Fleming – the sixth novel in the Bond series. At the end of the previous novel , From Russia With Love , we are left with a serious doubt about whether Bond has survived. Having brought about the demise of SMERSH’s latest plot, he is poisoned and the reader is unsure about what will have become of him. Obviously, he survives thanks to some quick thinking and good luck. As part of his recuperation a slightly grumpy M decides that the warm climes of Jamaica will suit Bond where he is to clear up the small mystery of a couple of Secret Service operatives seemingly eloping and abandoning their station. Added to this is a fire at a bird reserve on Crab Key, an island off the Jamaican mainland, w

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

Cover image © Penguin Classics A few years back, my father went through a phase of reading a newspaper that was giving away free DVDs. For a few weekends the DVDs were all old Alfred Hitchcock films, and included the original 1935 version of ‘The 39 Steps’ starring Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll. I decided to get my hands on a copy of the novel on which the film was based. Following on from my trend of reading James Bond novels, The 39 Steps by John Buchan is, in many ways, a precursor to those novels. The flipping between fast-paced action and moments of tension, all set against a backdrop of espionage and counter-espionage, is very reminiscent of The Cold War world of Ian Fleming’s character. The novel follows Richard Hannay, a man living in London, struggling to get into the rhythm of life there after having been based in Rhodesia for a period of time.  The action starts when Hannay is approached by an American gentleman, later identifying himself as Franklin P.