Octopussy and the Living Daylights- Ian Fleming 1966
Summary- An ex-member of the Secret Service, Major Dexter Smythe, is living the good life down in Jamaica, until he gets a visit from James Bond. It turns out that Smythe had learned the location of some German gold hidden on a mountain back during the war. He found a German mountaineer to act as his guide to the gold. He then killed the man and stole the gold. He married and moved to Jamaica, slowly selling chunks of the two huge gold bars for his income.
Many, many years later the body of the German, Oberhauser, washed out of the deep snow of the mountain. Using the bullets, Smythe was determined as the killer, and Bond asked to be the one who found him and made him confess. Oberhauser had been Bond's ski instructor before the war, and was a friend. Bond gets Smythe to confess, and leaves him, saying that the authorities will be there in a while. Bond really sort of did this to give Smythe a chance to kill himself. Smythe does kill himself, but by accident. He is swimming in the reef one last time, and he tries to feed a scorpion fish to an octopus. The octopus, however, likes Smythe's arm better, and pulls him under the water, drowning him.
My Grade- A- Octopussy the movie borrowed its name from this story, but that is where the similarity ends. The plots aren't even remotely similar. This story focuses on Smythe more so than Bond. It is a very simple story, but is an interesting read.
Best Moment- The best moment is the end, where the octopus decides it wants a bigger meal than the scorpion fish.
The Living Daylights
Summary- James Bond is sent on a mission to kill a sniper. Agent 272 needs to get out of East Germany, but the KGB learn of his route, and will surely have a sniper. Bond sets up in an old building, waiting for 272 to cross on one of the next three days. Nothing much happens the first two days, except that Bond develops sort of a crush on a female cello player who plays in the building across the street.
On the third night, 272 starts to cross, and the sniper shows. It is the cello player Bond likes. He purposefully misses the kill, but shoots the gun out of her hand, saving 272. Bond doesn't care about the consequences.
My Grade- A This is basically the opening of the movie The Living Daylights, if the movie were to stop right after Bond missed. I really like both the movie and the short story.
Best Moment- The best moment is the end, where Bond decides to break his orders rather than kill the girl. He doesn't care about what might happen to him.
Property of a Lady
Summary-The secret service has a known double-agent working for them. They allowed her access to a special cipher machine that she thinks she is using to send secret information to the KGB. However, she is really sending false information. The KGB doesn't know this, and they want to pay the woman for her services. To do this, they have taken a Faberge "sphere" from their secret stash of goodies and made up a story that the cipher woman has just inherited it. Then she can auction it off, and she will have her money. However, for this to work, someone has to raise the bid up, so that the woman will get top dollar. James Bond determines that the only man who would know to do that would be the head of the KGB in London. Bond plans on determining who that man is at the auction. He does so, and scores a big hit on the KGB.
My Grade- B This is the last story of Fleming that I will ever read for the first time. I felt sort of sad when I finished it. The story itself is good, but now there is no more of Fleming's James Bond to read. I hope Kingsly Amis keeps up the fine James Bond stories in his novel.
Best Moment- The best moment is when Bond discovers who the KGB bidder is, even though the man was very careful to set up a secret bidding signal.
Overall Grade- B+ This is Fleming's last work, and I'm kind of glad that it was a three-for-one deal. I really loved all of Fleming's work.