Fleming's fifth entry in the Bond series opens in a gray building in communist Moscow, where the Russian assassination group known as SMERSH has hatched a plot to kill an agent of the British Secret Service, humiliate him and his organization across the world, and eliminate the top cipher decryption specialists in the West.
The plotters are Colonels Kronsteen and Klebb, the master chess-player and the sadistic female torturer who are the brains behind SMERSH's considerable brawn.
The killer is Donovan "Red" Grant, the Irish former serial killer
who is now the Chief Executioner of SMERSH.
The bait is the beautiful Corporal Tatiana Romanova and her Lektor encryption machine, a device whose recovery could mean the difference between defeat and victory for the West.
The victim is to be Commander James Bond, codenamed 007, the biggest single thorn in the side of the Russian intelligence community.
Traveling to Istanbul, Turkey, Bond teams with local station chief Darko Kerim to recover the girl and the machine and spirit them both back to England.
Dodging hired Bulgarian goons armed with pistols, knives, and limpet mines, Bond and Kerim manage to book passage out of Turkey for themselves, Tatiana, and the Lektor aboard the famed Orient Express, where Bond and Grant will engage in a life-or-death battle.
This report prepared by James Craver