Wednesday, October 13, 2021

[Review] - The Man with the Golden Gun by Ian Fleming

Before the death of Ian Fleming in August 1964, he wrote one more full-length James Bond novel - The Man with the Golden Gun. Fleming wrote the 184-page tale at his Goldeneye estate in Jamaica between January and March 1964. Usually, Fleming would write 2,000 words per day. But because of his declining health, he would only write for an hour per day. It wasn't Fleming's best work. He planned on rewriting it in the spring of 1965, but, unfortunately, he died of a heart attack on August 2, 1964. Jonathan Cape published the novel posthumously eight months after Fleming's death. Like the previous 007 novel You Only Live Twice, critics didn't care much about Bond's newest adventure.

At the end of You Only Live Twice, Bond developed amnesia from a head injury and lived as a fisherman in Japan until he saw a newspaper clipping that jumpstarted his memory. He traveled to Russia in the hopes of learning his identity. In The Man with the Golden Gun, Bond figures out his identity. Then the Russian baddies brainwashed him and sent him back to England to kill M. Bond fails at the assassination attempt.

Bond is de-programmed by MI6 and given a new assignment to prove his 00 title. He travels to Jamaica to locate and assassinate Francisco "Pistols" Scaramanga, a Cuban assassin responsible for killing several British agents. People call Scaramanga "The Man with the Golden Gun" because he uses a gold-plated Colt .45 revolver that fires silver-jacketed solid-gold bullets.

Final Thoughts

Ian Fleming never got a chance to write a second draft for The Man with the Golden Gun before his death in 1964. From what I've read about the author, Fleming always added descriptions and details to his second drafts. Instead of hiring a ghostwriter for a rewrite, the publisher released The Man with the Golden Gun as Fleming left it. What we get is what feels like a watered-down 007 adventure. There's a beginning, middle, and ending, but the meat and potatoes are missing.

Overall, The Man with the Golden Gun is a lackluster final entry for Ian Fleming's James Bond. Though, it wasn't the end. A collection of 007 short stories, Octopussy and The Living Daylights, penned by Ian Fleming, came out in 1966. Later, Fleming's estate authorized more 007 tales by other authors, but none captured Fleming's golden touch.


  1. Man with the Golden Gun isn't one of my favorite movies. And that's interesting about the memory loss angle! The books and the shows do seem to be so different in many ways, even with the interweaving of plot points here and there.

    I like how you share the critics' views of his novels too. that's always interesting.

  2. The book is my second to least favourite of the series, ahead of only the gory Casino Royale -- but even if it needed the author's 'polish', it is still Bond and Fleming. Essentially the same cardboard-cutout gangsters we'd all met before. No doubt, Fleming' re-write would have improved matters.
    Hard to digest that the KGB man would ID Bond but not Leiter, as though his hook and limp and straw hair had nothing at all to do with past world domination failures, lol ?
    The film ? Tuh.


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