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Publisher's Summary

When 007 goes to Harlem, it's not just for the jazz. This is the kingdom of Mr. Big, master of crime, voodoo baron, and partner in SMERSH's grim company of death. Those Mr. Big cannot possess he crushes - like his beautiful prisoner, Solitaire, and her would-be saviors James Bond and Agency man Felix Leiter. All three are marked out as victims in a trail of terror, treachery, and torture that leads from New York's underworld to the shark-infested island in the sun that Mr. Big calls his own.

This audiobook includes an exclusive bonus interview with Rory Kinnear.

Blackstone Audio, Inc. James Bond and 007 are registered trademarks of Danjaq LLC, used under license by Ian Fleming Publications Ltd

©1954 Ian Fleming (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Will
  • Brandy Station, VA, United States
  • 10-26-16

Far From Racist

I have to say I disagree with the reviews they call this book racist. The book was written in 1954. The language it uses it typical of that time. rather than being racist, this book is actually very Pro African American, as its antagonist is a brilliant, powerful man whose organization proves more capable than the combined resources of the FBI, CIA and MI6. All this in a book that was written while Jim Crow laws were still in effect. Rather than being reviled as racist, this book should be recognized as an early piece of civil rights literature.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Solid Gold Bond

The narrator read this at a perfect pace with a sense of scene and speaker. He read Solitaire as a gentle voice but did not use an effeminate voice which often sounds silly. Bond was read in a strong but thinking manner.

The book itself is a great story and introduces us to Mr. Big and continues the storyline of Smersh (?). I enjoyed meeting Felix again and of course, M. The plot was engaging, picking up the pace around chapter 4. It was a very enjoyable set of drives to and from work. And I think many will enjoy this story, simply relaxing in their favourite chair with a yummy cup of tea.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Very good performance slightly boring storyline

I found it rather difficult to sink my teeth into this book. The story wasn’t as gripping as Casino Royale and I kept not really wanting to finish it. Towards the end of the book (last 1.5 hours or so) it really picks up. In general not a bad story just a bit boring especially in the beginning. Rory Kinnear’s performance was very enjoyable.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Enjoyable Bond Romp

This early Bond novel has some interesting points that make it both problematic and fun. In many ways, it is quite clever, and in other, it is quite simplistic. When Fleming tries to do too much, the story often suffers for it, so it is probably better that it wasn’t more intricate, but Live and Let Die lacks some of the sparkle that other novels have. The main problem it suffers from, however, is a modern day sense of propriety and sensibility.

The whole novel hinges on gold from England being smuggled from Jamaica through Florida to Harlem. Bond is sent as the Secret Service agent, and teams up with Felix Leiter from the previous novel, “Casino Royale” of the CIA. The villain of the novel is a man known throughout most of the novel as Mr. Big, or the Big Man. Rarely is a Bond villain such a caricature. In a similar fashion, the Bond girl in this novel has her name only given once, and is mostly only known as Solitaire.

Mr. Big is an African-American man with a heart condition that gives him a gray complexion. He is also a member of the Russian anti-spy agency known in the Bond universe as SMERSH. M mentions early on that there’s no reason there can’t be a great black criminal, but Mr. Big places a huge importance on the fact that he is the first great black criminal. Bond is suitably impressed with the web of informants, communication chain, and loyalty that Mr. Big has, but cares less about his race than the fact that he seems to control his followers out of a fear of voodoo than other means.

That is the most bizarre aspect to this story. Fleming clearly researched voodoo well, as there is significant descriptions of the practice and beliefs, but there is an implication that every African-American living in that time period believed in voodoo. Mr. Big is supposed to be a zombie of Baron Samdi, but to create the widespread fear, power, and control that he wields in the novel, pretty much every African-American living in America was prey to Mr. Big’s influence, and, by extension, believed in the power of voodoo. I want to know what demographics Fleming was reading.

At first glance, it seemed that the detour to St. Petersburg, Florida would be a mere pit stop after the train ride, to show that Big’s web was a step ahead of Bond, but it was so much more. Of course, it starts with Bond and Solitaire eating eggs in a diner before she gets kidnapped. Really. James Bond eats eggs in a story. First, Leiter’s attack was wholly unexpected. Next, how the gold was smuggled was a bit of genius on Fleming’s part.

In Jamaica, Bond spends a fair amount of time getting into fighting form, training then swimming to the island where the gold is being unloaded by Mr. Big, in time for the final showdown. All in all, the ending is satisfying, but perhaps it was the fact the the voodoo drums were faked in the end that was the most upsetting. The girl was supposed to be some sort of psychic from Haiti—a Caucasian girl, who defected from Mr. Big’s protection and employ(?) and she believed in voodoo, but that isn’t really explained. Her strange mystic abilities are real, but the voodoo that all of these people believed in was faked, in this case, by Mr. Big. Struck me as strange when Fleming when into so much trouble to describe voodoo and its practice.

Rory Kinnear did a fine job of reading this. I found the irony of him reading a Bond novel supremely high when I have seen him play the Chief of Staff, a Bill Tanner, in several films. He kept the story moving along nicely, while not tripping up on anything awkward. Fleming has his moments. Perhaps this was not, however, the novel for Kinnear to read, as his American accent is fairly poor. I knew that Felix is meant to be from Texas, but it was not heard from Kinnear’s reading. His New York sounded the same as his generic American, which is to say, vaguely British. His Jamaican and Haitian were both fine, and I liked his individual characters. They were lively and distinct. His Bond, in particular, was quite good.

Not my favorite Bond story, but still a fun few hours, certainly worth the time and money.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Bond, James Bond

Ian Fleming really has a flare and it is easy to see why they became hit movies when starring the one and only Sean Connery. I enjoy
that Bond is more human sensitive and relies Less on gadgetry. Awkward that people are referred to by their skin color. For example, "the Negro brought the beer to the table" Etc.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Racial prejudices mar an otherwise great book

Ian Fleming's depiction of black culture detracts from an otherwise compelling Bond adventure. The narration was excellent.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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007 #2 in the Series & Superior to the Movie.

This book portrays a much more human James Bond that doesn't have physics-defying, magical gadgets to save the day as portrayed in the theatrical version. I grew up loving the movies but the books, so far, are proving to be superior.

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Great Acting

This reader did a phenomenal job. Definitely want to listen to this again! This book is very gripping.

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Live and Let Die

As the rest of the Bond books, Live and Let Die takes you to the scene where you can picture all the events happening. I always hate when the books end because the are that good.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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The Real James Bond Returns

If your only experience with this title is through the Roger Moore film, then this will be a refreshing change. This is James Bond at his most realistic, without the puns, innuendos, and humorous asides to anyone listening. (Don't get me wrong - I love the films, but these novels are the real deal from which all those ideas sprang.) Here is an, admittedly, dated spy novel with some great elements. If you enjoyed the films you will see plot points that show up in several different films that you probably did not realized originated here. If you enjoy spy novels in general this is a good one.

I should state that when I mentioned that it was dated, it primarily relates to issues relating to black characters. Terminology is of-it's-time referring to them simply as negroes and it makes some very broad racial characterizations that were thought of as accurate back in the day when this was written. I do not get the sense that Ian Fleming was racist in any way. He simply wrote what to the current beliefs and societal views were at that time. Take that into account if you are sensitive to these matters. The novel is approximately 60+ years old.

Bottom line: If you like spy novels in general or James Bond in any form, you owe it to yourself to see how they all began and read Flemings works. This is the second of the series but stands pretty well on it's own. There are a couple minor references to Casino Royale but that is not required reading to enjoy this novel.