The twelfth James Bond novel, and thirteenth book, The Man With The Golden Gun, was published posthumously in 1965 after Ian Fleming’s death in ’64. The story picks up about a year after the events of You Only Twice.
When we were last with 007, he was suffering amnesia and had taken up a quiet life with Kissy Suzuki in a remote fishing village in Japan, though his memory teased at him, and wouldn’t let go of the word Vladivostok.
He shows up some time later in London, checking into a hotel and trying to prove his identity to MI6 in order to reach M. But it isn’t to report. Bond was held by the KGB in Vladivostok, and was brainwashed, and attempts to kill M.
Put under watch at hospital, M. wonders if his most reliable agent is still in there somewhere, and after some de-programming is sent out into the field once again, with a seemingly impossible mission. If he succeeds, M. knows he can be trusted and can be welcomed back into the service, if he fails, he’ll die at the hands of his target, Scaramanga, the Man with the Golden Gun.
Don’t be fooled by the film’s portrayal of the character as a sharp, erudite, sophisticated assassin. This version of Scaramanga is crass, brutal, and leads 007 a merry chase through the Caribbean and back to Jamaica (again).
In Jamaica, he is reunited with his old secretary, now on a new assignment in the islands, Mary Goodnight, and through a series of happenstance, finds himself in the employ of Scaramanga as the assassin holds a meeting of hoods on the grounds of a would be resort and hotel.
The hotel has a number of hoods, and agents, all arriving for this meeting, but Bond has an unexpected ace in the hole, his old friend Felix Leiter is undercover there as well. But will it be enough when Bond’s true identity is revealed, and will he be able to prove himself not only worthy to be a 00 but also of M.’s trust?
Fleming once again crafts a fast paced thriller, and there is noticeably less racism prevalent in the story telling, though it wouldn’t be Bond without a little sexism in it. Though for the most part, Goodnight is treated fairly well.
The story is much smaller in scale than it’s cinematic counterpart, and Fleming brings his character back to his beloved Jamaica once again. In fact, this time around, even Bond thinks about buying some property there.
It’s a fun, brisk tale, that hints that despite this is Fleming’s last novel, there will be more to come… And there will be, as James Bond Will Return in Octopussy.