Casino Royale (James Bond)

Casino Royale (James Bond) - Ian Fleming I came to this book, my first James Bond, with the baggage of decades of exposure to his film incarnations. Having Daniel Craig as a template for this particular outing is no bad thing, though I was intrigued to read Bond described as having a look of Hoagy Carmichael about him.So, I went into this story wondering if my preconceptions would be confirmed or confounded, and inevitably it was a mix (shaken, not stirred - yes, that line is in here) of both.Bond is suave and debonair when called for, calculating and brutal when not. The ease with which he navigates the casino high society hints at a privileged past to which this story gives us no access - which adds his glamour and mystery.When Bond meets new people, we are shown his mental summing up of their likely character and potential motivations and, more often than not, Bond hits the nail on the head, which is one of the things that makes him such a good agent. The suspense and tension is provided by wondering whether this is one of the times Bond has miscalculated and, if so, what the consequences will be.Although the 2006 film adaptation of Casino Royale has necessarily added much to the plot that is not given in the book, those elements it has taken are pretty faithful, which I was surprised about. Particularly the torture scene, which is really quite graphic and made me squirm in my seat (as I think it would most men!).Fleming has taken a lot of flak for his sexist attitude but, with one shocking exception, I didn't find his attitude towards women any different to that which I'd expect from a novel of this vintage. In fact, Vesper Lynd is generally depicted as a competent and able operative. Bond's view of women is that they are a distraction and an unnecessary entanglement which will interfere with his job, which is proved correct. An alternative view is given by Bond's French contact, René Mathis, who recommends that Bond gets a wife and starts a family so that he has something personal to fight for, rather than cold ideology and patriotism. This is also shown to be correct, even if somewhat tragically.The shocking exception is the line, "...the conquest of her body would each time have the sweet tang of rape," which is really indefensible, but whether it is purely Bond's attitude or shared by the author, I don't know.A more complex book than I would have given credit for and, with the reservation noted above, a jolly good one. I'm now on the look-out for Live and Let Die when trawling second-hand book shops.