Live And Let Die: The Jamaica Version

Following on from our look at Jamaica, the Caribbean island where Ian Fleming owned a house and wrote all the James Bond adventures, we take a look at the road trip taken by 007 on the trail of Mr Big in Live And Let Die.

When Ian Fleming wrote Live And Let Die, James Bond visited a Jamaica that was very much under colonial rule and very different from the island we know today. Fleming was writing in the early 1950s and the island that he writes about is largely unspoilt by mass tourism.

James Bond arrives on the island from New York and is collected from Kingston airport by Commander John Strangways, the local secret service man for the Caribbean. Strangways drives Bond to his house in the Blue Mountains and updates him on Mr Big, who Bond has already encountered in New York.

Mr Big has based himself at the “Isle of Surprise” – a fictional former stronghold of the pirate Bloody Morgan situated on the North coast, but close to Fleming’s house, Goldeneye – and so Strangways has rented accommodation close by at Beau Desert, the remains of one of the early nineteenth century great houses.

He has also fixed him with a house on the other side of the island where Bond can prepare for his assignment and get into shape, as well as arranging for a local fisherman named Quarrel to assist Bond on his mission.

Quarrel picks 007 up from his hotel in Kingston [A on the map] the following morning in Strangways’ Sunbeam Talbot coupé and they make their way along the Junction Road through Castleton [B] and Port Maria [C] before the road to the Shark Bay to reconnoitre Mr Big’s hideaway from a distance. Having completed their observation, they drive along the northern coast in to the far side of Montego Bay [E], where they have lunch, passing through Oracabessa [D] and Ocho Rios on the way.

After lunch they continue on to the west coast of the island, to “Manatee Bay”, although the location – the western tip of the island – would seem to put them at Negril [F]. Here Bond spends a week preparing for his mission – his training regime is overseen by Quarrel, consisting of running, swimming, sailing and snorkelling.

At the same time he cuts out alcohol completely as well as restricting his cigarette consumption to ten a day and at the end of each day Bond receives a half hour massage from Quarrel so that at the end of the week Bond is ready to take on the might of Mr Big.

David Leigh founded The James Bond Dossier in 2002. A fan of 007 since the age of 8, he is also author of The Complete Guide to the Drinks of James Bond. You can order a copy here if you don't own it already.

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5 Responses to “Live And Let Die: The Jamaica Version”

  • David Dorward

    This article makes me want to go to Jamica today!

    David Dorward

  • robert semple

    If you look at photos from the gardens of Firefly Noel Coward’s home near Port Maria in Jamaica you will see a bay ad rising out of the bay is a small island andI think this is where Fleming got his idea for The Isle of Surprise rising out of the water like a tall Grey cake toped with green icing on a china blue plate

  • Peter

    As a teenager, “Dr No” was my first brush with Jamaica and it left an indelible impression. I’ve long wanted to visit the island and hope I’ll achieve that dream before it’s time to cash in my chips! Thanks, M, for an evocative James Bond/”Dr No” road trail map. Maybe you could do the same for “Live and Let Die” and other Bond novels, please?

  • Greg Jinkerson

    Hi Peter! As a matter of fact, this piece does cover the road trip from “Live and Let Die”. “Dr No” also takes place in Jamaica, which may have caused the confusion.

    M, thanks for the fun recital of Bond’s run up to Mr. Big. The nighttime swim approach to Big’s lair is one of the most gripping passages in the whole series. The explosion of Big’s barge and rescue of Solitaire are a fitting climax.

  • M

    Thanks to all for the comments. I will be adding more travel articles over the next few months.

    @robert – Well spotted! The island is Cabarita, off Port Maria: