Ian Fleming - Live and Let Die
"‘Live and Let Die’ is an amazing novel with light and dark shot through with colour that can only be found amongst the Jazz scene of Harlem."
Mr Big is brutal and feared worldwide. Protected by Voodoo forces and the psychic powers of his prisoner Solitaire, he is an invincible SMERSH operative at the head of a ruthless smuggling ring. James Bond's new assignment will take him to the heart of the occult. From Harlem's throbbing jazz joints to the shark-infested waters of Jamaica, enemy eyes watch Bond's every move. He must tread carefully to avoid a nightmarish fate.
I remember years ago reading ‘Live and Let Die’ and being totally blown away by it. It has also remained my favourite Bond film with Roger Moore making his debut as Bond and being quite good in it. (Moore only really got ridiculous in the later ones where every other sentence was a double-entendre). However, saying that, the film is not a totally faithful portrayal with all the elements of the book (some scenes from this book were not used in the film of the same name but in subsequent Bond films) – however, it is nowhere near as dark as the book.
I will say now that there are terms and phrases that were used towards the black community that were acceptable in those days and not now. However, to take this out would also tamper with the integrity of the novel itself. Agatha Christie is another prime example of using these expressions but her books still have these words within the text. Besides, it adds another layer to the novel and Fleming does not use it in a derogatory way – in fact Mr. Big is portrayed as a smarter and more entrepreneurial individual than Bond could ever hope to achieve.
As mentioned before, Fleming’s Bond was shot through with British wit and lifts the story from being completely engulfed by the shadows. Mr. Big is a very impressive villain; personally I feel he is up there with Goldfinger. Yes, some of the attitudes towards women are also dated, but in some ways it is good to see how much simpler things were back then without an electronic gizmo for every single thing, but at the same time good to see how much further we have come down the path with regards to attitudes towards other races and the opposite sex.
‘Live and Let Die’ is an amazing novel with light and dark shot through with colour that can only be found amongst the Jazz scene of Harlem. Brilliant!
Reviewed by: C.S.