Ian Fleming's novels lend themselves particularly well to the format of audiobooks. The only criticism I have of this audiobook is that the narrator's Jamaican and Chinese accents weren't particularly accurate and occasionally veered into the realm of caricature. Other than that his reading was excellent.
Whatever one may think of Ian Fleming and the 007 series, they are definitely part of the culture, and we must be grateful to Simon Vance for lifting the story out of the weeds. He makes us take these improbable characters seriously. An entertaining read.
Was this when Fleming started to phone it in? I have enjoyed several of the earlier Bond novels, but this one was full of purple prose and even more cringe-inducing racism and sexism than usual. I mean, this is James Bond we're talking about, who was a misogynistic dick even when cleaned up for Hollywood, but Dr. No is pretty much wall-to-wall racial caricatures, along with a vapid sex kitten of a Bond girl. I know, you're saying "What makes her any different from all the other Bond girls?" Well, usually the Bond girls are double-agents or something, or at least they carry a gun, but Honeychile Rider is just a feral blonde who hangs out naked on beaches. But okay, expecting Ian Fleming to write strong female characters is like expecting Jane Austen to write swordfights.
James Bond is sent to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of the Kingston station operatives. After wandering around meeting the colorful locals (there will be something here to offend everyone, from the description of Jamaicans as "lazy children" to every single Chinese person being part of the Yellow Horde), Bond makes his way to Crab Key, an island owned by the mysterious Dr. Julius No. Dr. No turns out to be a half-Chinese megalomaniac with prosthetic hands who brags about how totally evil and powerful he is. He rants about how he's King of the World (actually, he's the king of a tiny guano-covered island), then he taunts Bond and his new squeeze for a while before putting them both into ridiculous deathtraps. When this evil "genius" wants to kill someone, he prefers using poisonous centipedes and giant squid as opposed to, say, a bullet. You just know the ceiling lasers and submarine cars can't be far behind.
Dr. No was still fun in all its racist, sexist, cheesy pulpiness, but it lacked the details and thin veneer of plausibility that earlier novels had, and boy has Fleming's writing gone downhill in this one. Go ahead and read it if you are a Bond fan, but it's definitely not Fleming's best work.
Simon Vance is one of my favorite narrators, and he does his usual good job with what he's given to work with, which in this case is some of Fleming's most purple prose.
I've never once read (or listened to) one of Ian Flemming's James Bond novels, yet I've always thought about doing so. The book is vastly different from what I expected, much to my delight. It is still a bit far-fetched, but it paints a much more interesting picture of the Bond character. I definitely enjoyed my listen of this book and I would recommend it to anyone else who's ever felt a passing interest in the books.
Not a bad story at all, but it does show how important race was back in the late 50's. Everyone's lineage is clarified when each character is introduced, as well as their "Preordained" shortcomings.
I had never read an Ian Fleming work before, so I decided to try one, thinking the books might possibly be better than the movies, as is often the case. I selected this as being one of the best, according to his fans. It was pretty much what I expected from the movies--inane, superhuman feats by a cartoon character. I gave it 2 stars only because any Simon Vance narration deserves no less, no matter how bad the underlying work. It is the male counterpart of soft porn female romantic fantasies.