The Man With the Golden Gun (1965)
I read the final Ian Fleming Bond novel on a flight to Los Angeles this summer. It opens with Bond, brainwashed and conditioned as a sleeper agent by the KGB, re-awakened in London to make an attempt on M’s life, in a plot reminiscent of Richard Condon’s 1959 novel ‘The Manchurian Candidate’. Repenting for his sins, Bond is sent on a mission to kill Francisco Scaramanga, a Cuban assassin. It is deemed a mission that Bond is unlikely to survive, but the authorities would be content with either outcome. The novel makes reference to the new lease of life Bond was enjoying on the big screen, a Scottish ancestry is reinforced for the main character, in deference to star Sean Connery’s home country. The novel sees Bond return to Jamaica, where Fleming spent the happiest times of his life. Tragically, Fleming died only a few weeks after his beloved mother. Our final vision of Bond in the novels is his slow recovery in hospital after the ordeal of his mission. He lives to fight another day. James Bond would inevitably return, though sadly never again from the pen of Ian Fleming. Buy The Folio Society’s edition of Ian Fleming’s ‘The Man With the Golden Gun‘.
James Bond will return. James Bond will always return, because we need him. He is an essential, enduring, adaptable part of the British cultural landscape. From John Gardner to Anthony Horowitz and William Boyd, other notable contemporary authors have taken inspiration from the incredible world created by Ian Fleming and provided 007 with many more thrilling missions. On the big screen, Daniel Craig, the sixth actor to play the part, has been the most successful incarnation to date in terms of box office returns and critical acclaim. Truly, James Bond goes from strength to strength almost half a century after his creator’s death. For purists like me, who fell in love with the franchise through the pen of Ian Fleming, the original will never be bettered. That’s why The Folio Society James Bond range, with their gun-metal hardcovers and slip cases and illustrations that capture the 1950s/60s period so well, comprise the definitive collection to line up on your bookcase.