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Ian Fleming's Live and Let Die

Mission: Live and Let Die
Author: Ian Fleming
First Published: April 5, 1954

Villain: Mr. Big
Organization: SMERSH
Bond Girl: Solitaire
Allies: Felix Leiter, Quarrel



 Audio Cassette

Live and Let Die American Penguin paperback edition

 Live and Let Die Book Jacket Summary:

"Beautiful, fortune-telling Solitaire is the prisoner (and tool) of Mr. Big - master of fear, artist in crime, and Voodoo Baron of Death. James Bond has no time for superstition - he knows that Big is also a top SMERSH operative and a real threat. More than that, after tracking him through the jazz joints of Harlem to the Everglades and on the Caribbean, 007 has realized that Mr. Big is one of the most dangerous men that he has ever faced. And no one, not even the enigmatic Solitaire, can be sure how their battle of wills is going to end."
-From the 2004 Penguin Edition

 Universal Exports' Review:

Fleming's Live And Let Die is a tale of Voodoo mysticism and ancient treasure being smuggled into America. Anything but politically correct, the novel has a chapter called "Nigger Heaven". Although the racial issue is very disturbing, once you get past it the novel is actually quite good. Mr. Big, a suspected member of SMERSH, has been tied to the smuggling of rare gold coins into the United States. Bond goes off to New York City where he meets up with Felix Leiter and they head up to Harlem.

It is here in Harlem that the two of them meet Mr. Big and his beautiful fortune teller, Solitaire, for the first time. While Mr. Big sees Bond as just another white man trying to infiltrate his affairs, Solitaire sees him as her salvation.
Live and Let Die British Pan paperback edition
British Pan paperback edition
After escaping harm from Mr. Big's henchmen, Bond is joined by Solitaire on a romantic train ride to Florida. It is here that the novel really gets interesting. Just when the sexual tension is at a high between the two, Solitaire is snatched back by Mr. Big and Felix Leiter is maimed by sharks.

In perhaps the best scene in the novel, Bond goes to the warehouse that Felix was investigating before he was attacked and finds out Mr. Big's secret. After making his discovery, Bond is attacked by a man called The Robber and, even with his finger in a splint, manages to get away and kill The Robber. Although the tension in the book is not as high as in Casino Royale, it is much faster moving since it doesn't have to introduce the characters again. Also, there are many references to Bond's adventure in Royale that can be missed if one has not read it.

One unanswered aspect of the Book is where SMERSH came in. Although Mr. Big was suspected of being a SMERSH collaborator, and Bond wants to kill him for that reason alone, the sub-plot is never explored. Bond never finds any connection and the reader is left wondering. All-in-all, a very good book and the maiming of Felix Leiter works much better than it did in the movie of Licence To Kill.

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