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Mystery Monday Review – Moonraker

Moonraker by Ian Fleming

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

 

This is the third 007 novel, published in 1955, after Casino Royale and Live and Let Die. Though it has a brisk pace, it doesn’t hurtle and careen and rock and roll like those two do.

In fact, the novel eschews the exotic scenarios and takes place entirely in England. Bond – who apparently goes on an overseas mission only in exceptional cases – works the normal work of an espiocrat. But it happens that his boss M. asks him a favor: it is suspected that a member of his club, Hugo Drax – war hero and self-made millionaire about to give England a very sophisticated missile system – though famous, admired and esteemed, will cheat while playing bridge. Would you, Bond, mind so very much checking if this caddish behavior is so and make sure that it does not tumble out in a scandal? During an unforgettable card game, 007 reaches the conclusion that Drax indeed cheats at cards and inflicts on him, by cheating on him in turn, a memorable stinging lesson.

The incident would seem closed, but a doubt remains: why does such a well-respected man give into the wayward impulse to rob his fellow club members by risking his reputation with cheating at bridge? So Bond infiltrates the missile project.

A compelling story follows, which holds several surprises. Granted, the ethical and political horizon of the English writer is sharp and stark. But his characters are in fact complex and full of motivations. Starting with Bond, he is anything but a cynical adventurer and always ready to risk his neck for his country. He is a tough man, sure, aware of the ruthlessness of the game in which he is immersed, but he suffers no illusions. He knows that he is unlikely to reach the age of forty-five. In the meantime, try to live as best you can, at least as a consumer of vodka martinis, tasty viands, bespoke duds and, of course, Ursula Andress look-a-likes.

Worth reading if one likes Bond novels and one doesn’t mind Fleming’s run-on, break neck sentences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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