“You start to die the moment you are born. The whole of life is cutting through the pack with death. So take it easy. Light a cigarette and be grateful you are still alive as you suck the smoke deep into your lungs. Your stars have already let you come quite a long way since you left your mother’s womb and whimpered at the cold air of the world.”
With these words in his second James Bond book, Ian Fleming reminds us of something. In the majesty and mystery of the world of the secret service agent - the films, the long-limbed actors, the wealth - we lose sight of one pertinent fact; Fleming was more than a half-decent writer. Here Fleming works with a fundamental of writing - write about what you know - taking Bond on a journey through Harlem, Florida and Jamaica, places he knew well. This novel has all the best bits of the films and more - scuba diving, an international baddie chase ('Mr Big' in Live and Let Die), a Bond girl - and I would argue it is a difficult card to trump. If Fleming follows a trend I strongly believe in - that writer's tend to release the majority of their creative energy in their first book or two - then it will be. The jury's out, as I still have 10 or so of the other Bond novels to digest. I say SAY YES to this one!