No By Candlelight

Last night, in the sub-zero actual temps not to mention the wind factor, the electricity for what seemed to be the whole town went out about 10PM.  We lit some candles for a bit of light.  I decided to finish the novel I had been plowing through this week and was requested to voice my comments on it. So for new commenter, Paul I will relate my feelings on Doctor No.

At the conclusion of From Russia With Love, 007 was seen unconscious and near death from a lethal stab inflicted by the boot of the evil Rosa Klebb.  Of course, he survived or else we would not be discussing the follow-up.  To further his physical and emotional recovery, the agent is sent on a relatively breezy assignment to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of service man Strangways and his secretary.  Bond’s investigation leads him to Crab Key, a small island off the coast of Jamaica where the mysterious Chinese-German Dr. Julius No operates a seemingly innocent sanctuary for birds and harvests the guano (bird dung) for use as fertilizer.  I know, I know… goofy.  However, that is only the genius’ cover for his ingenious plot for world domination.  And I actually think this is my favorite of Fleming’s villains so far.  We get to delve into the good doctor’s past (although I think the title is more self-proclaimed, unless I missed something).

When Bond arrives on Crab Key with his associate, Quarrel, he finds the lovely Honeychile Rider.  He finds her armed with a small knife protecting her trove of seashells.  And unlike the movie, she is NOT clad in the MEMORABLE, eye-catching white bikini with weapon belt fastened to her waist… use your imagination.

This is the first novel to feature a bit of the fantastic.  One of Dr. No’s items of destruction is a fire-breathing dragon… the same as in the movie.  It is used to keep visitors away from the island and eventually captures Bond and Honey and brings them to Dr. No’s fortress where his ultimate goal is explained.  Bond and Honey are separated and face torturous demises.  The evil doctor has a fetish for studying the pain and endurance of his victims.  Bond is put through a gauntlet of increasingly deadly obstacles.

The best thing about reading these novels is being able to see inside the mind of the characters.  What does Bond really think about his profession?  Who is he?  What makes him tick and how much pain can he endure?  Fleming’s study of ornithology is also put to good use.  Oddly enough, Bond’s name comes from the author of a book on the study of birds.  OK… GEEK… it’s all right.  Even through 22 movies, there is more to learn about him.  However (hopefully) this may well be the last literary adventure I get to experience for a few months as the stage may be calling me.  Thankfully, I had only a few pages to finish.  I don’t think my eyes could have taken a lot more as the candles did not put out much illumination.  About 1.30am, I was awakened by the power coming back on or maybe it was the grateful feeling of the warmth returning.

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