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Casino Royale

Ian Fleming

Reviewed by Lorenzo Princi
Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
Cover concept by Lorenzo Princi, 3rd October 2014

Entering a hazy, sleepy, smoky setting of a Casino in the early hours of the morning with the smells and textures from Fleming's subtle descriptions floating right off the page, the story starts late. So begins the tone of subterfuge, espionage and double crossing as we are thrown into the mix without all the details.

The gambling motif (mainly the game of Baccarat) adds to the mesmerising game of spies and double agents where nothing is certain just like in the cards. Life and death are fast, as are the cars, action and women.

Absorbing, engrossing, deceptive, sexy and as cool as, well... James Bond. It is hard to read this book without thinking about the movies which have been inspired by this series however I didn't find myself (thankfully) thinking about Sean Connery and company as I read Fleming's original narrative. 

Remember, this is the book that started it all and unlike the Hollywood super man we have come to know, Fleming's protagonist, though confidant and self assured is not indestructible. He is a killer and professional spy but he has a conscience and thinks with his heart and acts on instinct against his own better judgement.

Casino Royale was written by a man who's life experience paralleled that of his double-0 and though presumably heightened for dramatic effect, nothing is so grand or operatic that it seems exaggerated. The dangers are real yet imaginative, the story short but compacted with much detail and intrigue. We are shown the cold war, where nothing is as it seems, a war with no clear front and no precise enemy; just blurry lines, grey areas and clever innuendo.