James Bond of the British Secret Service, MI6, is told that a member of SMERSH, a Russian government agency dealing with the assassination of enemy spies, who lives in France, has run into trouble with his organisation for lavish spending of his assigned funds. His name is Le Chiffre and he will be trying to win back money in the casinos of Royale-Les-Eaux. James Bond, the best gambler in MI6 is assigned to play against Le Chiffre at the gambling table and to win money from him, thus prompting SMERSH to assassinate him. This operation will deprive the enemy of funds and force them to get rid of their own agent.
Bond will be assisted by the Felix Leiter of the CIA and Vesper Lynd of MI6.
This is a very suspenseful book, a world away from the buffoonery of the Roger Moore films. The gambling scene is excellent and creates genuine suspense and tension despite the vast amount of technical gambling jargon which is hard to get used to at first. Not a bad introduction to the Bond canon. Strangely, the main plot is finished 60% of the way through the book, the remainder seemingly written as a romantic story rather than a thriller.
The ending is not very imaginative, but still makes you want to continue reading the series. The character of Bond is three-dimensionally defined in this debut novel and is made more interesting by the genuinely suspenseful plot.
The torture scene is horrific to a male reader but is excellently written.
This report prepared by Oliver Bayley