After receiving his mission briefing from M, James Bond heads for Scotland Yard, There he meets Assistant Commissioner Ronnie Vallance of Special Branch.
Vallance briefs him further then arranges for one of his men to accompany Bond to Hatton Garden. There he pays a visit on Rufus B Saye, the European Vice-President of The House of Diamonds. After their meeting Bond learns Rufus B Saye is an alias of Jack Spang, joint boss of the Spangled Mob.
Later Bond meets Tiffany Case at the fictional Trafalgar Palace hotel. Fleming tells us “there was more petty crime in this hotel than in any other large hotel in London”. They are there to discuss how Bond will smuggle £100,000 of uncut diamonds into the United States.
After deciding he will carry the diamonds in a set of golf balls, she tells him to check into the Ritz. From there he will be collected and driven to London Airport. When he arrives he sees Tiffany, who is there to keep an eye on him. She travels separately on the same flight.
Arriving again at Idlewild (now JFK) Airport, Bond checks into Hotel Astor. Opening in 1904, the hotel covered an entire block and was located near Times Square. It was demolished in 1967.
Bond soon bumps into his old friend Felix Leiter so they head for Sardi’s (234 West 44th Street), where they have martinis and lunch (see food and drink). This is the first time Bond has seen Leiter since he was fed to the sharks in Live And Let Die and he notes the heavy limp and the steel hook in place of Leiter’s right hand. Leiter explains how he left the CIA because of his injuries and now works for Pinkerton’s. When they realise their investigations cross they decide to team up.
Before departing for Saratoga Springs, Bond dines at the 21 Club with Tiffany, favourite of Humphrey Bogart and Richard Nixon amongst others. And for dinner the following night he visits Voisin’s (375 Park Avenue, now home to the Seagram Building) for “two Vodka Martinis, Oeufs Benedict and strawberries”.
Promptly at nine the following morning (Sunday) Leiter picks up Bond for the drive to Saratoga Springs. The car is a “Studillac”, a Studebaker with a Cadillac engine. Fleming had come across a car of the same design owned by William Woodward Jr.
On the way to Saratoga Springs, Bond and Leiter stop for lunch at The Chicken in the Basket. The restaurant must be somewhere on the road to Troy.
After lunch they continue to Saratoga Springs. Bond stays at The Sagamore, “on the edge of the town and only half a mile from the race-track”. Fleming seems to have appropriated the name, but not the location, of a real establishment; the real Sagamore is on Lake George, around 40 miles north of Saratoga Springs.
In the nineteenth century Saratoga Springs became popular among the wealthy due to its saline springs and horse racing soon followed. Although the town’s fortunes declined in the early twentieth century due to the prohibition of gambling and then the Second World War, Saratoga Springs regained prominence in the latter half of the century.
As well as the motel, Bond and Leiter spend time at the race track and visit the restaurant at the Pavilion for dry martinis and broiled lobster. Bond also visits Acme Mud and Sulphur Baths to make a payoff on behalf of Leiter. There he witnesses what happens if you are foolhardy enough to cross the Spangled Mob.
After checking into The Tiara (a fictional hotel across the road from the Thunderbird), James Bond sits at the bar with a Vodka Martini and watches the gambling around him. His first impression is quite unfavourable:
“Las Vegas seemed to have invented a new school of functional architecture, ‘The Gilded Mousetrap School’… whose main purpose was to channel the customer-mouse into the central gambling trap…”
The slot machine players first remind Bond of battery hens. But when someone hits the jackpot it is Pavlov’s dogs that come to mind, “the saliva drooling down from their jaws at the treacherous bell that brought no dinner”.
He is not much more impressed by blackjack either: “The game was quick and efficient and dull”.
Bored of watching the gambling, Bond goes to the restaurant where his excellent dinner compensates for slow service. Afterwards he goes back into the casino to sit at a blackjack table, as instructed. Dealt a rigged hand by none other than Tiffany Case, Bond is paid off for smuggling the diamonds.
He walks away five thousand dollars richer and he celebrates with a bourbon and branch-water in the bar. Despite being warned to walk away after his blackjack “win”, Bond heads for roulette wheel and eventually walks out of the casino with $20,000 in his pocket.
Soon Bond finds himself pursued across Las Vegas by the Spangled Mob as he attempts to escape in a cab driven by an undercover Pinkerton’s man, Ernie Cureo.
After falling into the hands of the Spangled Mob, Bond is taken to Spectreville, two hours away from Las Vegas. Spectreville is an old style western town owned by Seraffimo Spang, who lives out his fantasy as a cowboy.
Ernie Cureo tells Bond Spectreville is on old mining town “way out on Highway 95… right alongside the Spectre range” and that “a spur line took the [silver ore] into Rhyolite, mebbe fifty miles away”. Although Spectreville is fictional, both the Specter range and Rhyolite (note the US spelling) actually exist and are shown on the map above.
Spectreville is complete with authentic Pink Garter Saloon and a railway with “probably the most beautiful train in the world. The engine was one of the old locomotives of the ‘Highland Light’ class of around 1870 which Bond had heard called the handsomest steam locomotives ever built”.
After they have escaped from Spang, Leiter finds Bond and Tiffany by the side of Highway 95 near Rhyolite. He drives them to Los Angeles and “towards evening, they were sitting in the dark, cool bar of the Beverley Hills Hotel” for martinis, before flying to New York where they are due to head back to Britain aboard the Queen Elizabeth.