Author: Ian Fleming
Publication date: 5th April 1954
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Cover artist: Kenneth Lewis
1954 saw the publication of Live And Let Die, set in the US and Fleming’s second home of Jamaica. Full of imagination, it saw a change of pace from the previous book with its descriptions of gambling and paved the way for Bond as an action hero.
Mixing voodoo with pirate treasure and SMERSH, the book is the first to introduce Fleming’s fascination with the ocean and once in Jamaica is full of local colour.
The film of the same name was the first to star Roger Moore and like most of the films had very little to do with the book beyond sharing the names of the villain, Mr Big, and the girl, Solitaire.
Interestingly enough, a scene where Bond and Solitaire are dragged behind a boat over a shark infested reef was later used in the film For Your Eyes Only, and Licence to Kill starring Timothy Dalton was quite obviously, but loosely, based on the book.
What we say
Although Casino Royale was not published until later that year, Fleming wrote his second novel during his annual winter holiday in Jamaica in early 1953.
007 is sent to New York to investigate Mr Big. There he teams up with CIA agent Felix Leiter, under whose guidance he gets to see the jazz clubs and dance halls of 1950s Harlem. From New York they travel to Florida and then, after Felix is almost killed after being fed to the sharks, Bond heads to Jamaica.
This is the first of several stories that take place in Fleming’s favourite place and provides the opportunity for Bond to don a wetsuit and scuba gear and explore the submarine world in which Ian Fleming was so interested.
Among the highlights is when Felix Leiter takes Bond on a tour of Harlem’s jazz clubs. It is both fascinating and rather dated. It is also curious how Fleming weaves voodoo into the story, including a heroine who seems to genuinely possess psychic powers. Later Fleming’s love of Jamaica and the underwater world is evident when 007 scuba dives to Mr Big’s lair located on the Isle of Surprise.
007 is sent to New York, where he again teams up with CIA agent Felix Leiter, who takes Bond to a number of nightspots in Harlem. They later follow a lead that takes them to St Petersburg in Florida. Finally, Bond sets off to Jamaica for a showdown with Mr Big at his lair on the Isle of Surprise.