Monday, January 3, 2011

Casino Royale - Ian Fleming

This is a real VINTAGE crime blog, since today I'm reviewing Casino Royale by Ian Fleming.  This was first published in Great Britain in 1953, and I read a 2006 paperback edition that was actually published after the release of the film starring Daniel Craig.

First of all, I read this book in the labor and delivery suite and postpartum unit before and after my second daughter was born!  There is a significant amount of down time after the delivery, and I thought a re-read would be perfect for the setting.

This is the original James Bond novel, and I have to say if you are a fan of the films, this is a MUST READ!  Going into this book, you have to completely throw out preconceived notions based on the Daniel Craig film.  For starters, they play baccarat, not poker, and the ending is completely different.  Come to think of it, so is the beginning and middle!  I think of this book as classic bond, and can imagine the character being played only by Sean Connery.

The basic story is Le Chiffre is a bad Russian spy who lost a whole bunch of Russian money, and tries to win it back playing baccarat at the Casino Royale.  Bond is sent in to bankrupt him and expose him.  This is the novel where the Bond Martini is made, Bond's Bentley motorcar is described in painstaking detail, and Bond displays his extensive knowledge of wine and food.  In the middle of that, there are numerous assassination attempts on Bond, a whole lot of sexual tension, and a few great hands of baccarat being played.   If you don't know how to play baccarat, don't worry!  The game is explained in detail!

The great thing about this book is the atmosphere created by Ian Fleming.  Every room and situation is described in great detail without becoming tiring.  Fleming clearly knows his brand names, and he chose timeless ones in the book (Bentley, Hermes) that do not sound out of place in the Casino Royale.  The opening paragraph of the book illustrates that perfectly; "The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning.  The the soul-erosion produced by high gambling - a compost of fear and greed and nervous tension - becomes unbearable and the senses awake and revolt from it."


  1. I love this review and I never would have guessed that the beginning, middle, and end our so different from the movie.

    You are such a crime vintage buff...but like you, even though I have a "thing" for Daniel Craig, I always imagine Sean Connery in my mind! I love Sean Connery! ;-)

  2. Great reviews! I absolutely loved Casino Royale and Daniel Craig put on a great performance as James Bond 007.
    Thanks for sharing.
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