Thursday, October 14, 2021

[Review] - Octopussy and The Living Daylights by Ian Fleming

Nearly two years after the death of Ian Fleming in 1964, Jonathan Cape published the author's short story collection Octopussy and The Living Daylights. The first edition had only 94 pages and didn't par too well with critics, who called the two stories predictable and complained about the overuse of violence and sex. Subsequent editions included The Property of a Lady and 007 in New York.

Most of us probably remember the campy 1983 film adaptation of Octopussy. Besides the title, the movie has nothing to do with Fleming's Octopussy. M sends 007 to capture a WWII veteran, Major Dexter Smythe. Through flashbacks, we learn Smythe killed an Austrian mountain guide after finding gold. Fifteen years later, the man's body fell out of a glacier, and then Bond was assigned to investigate the murder.

In The Property of a Lady, James Bond attends an auction to stop the director of the KGB from underbidding and driving up the price on jewelry (crafted by Peter Carl Fabergé) owned by Maria Freudenstein, a Soviet Union double agent. 1983's Octopussy reworked the plot device.

In The Living Daylights, Bond is on an assignment as a sniper to kill the KGB assassin "Trigger" and to help Agent 272 escape from East Berlin. For three long nights, Bond patiently waits for Agent 272 to appear in his sight. During these nights, he overserves a female cellist come and go from orchestra rehearsals. When Agent 272 comes into range of the border, Bond realizes the blonde cellist is Trigger. Instead of aiming for her head, 007 shoots her rifle. Agent 272 escapes and Trigger lives. The 1987 film adaptation of the same name used the short story for its opening sequence.

007 in New York
(also known as Agent 007 in New York) is a short tale about Bond traveling to "The Big Apple" to warn an MI6 female employee that her boyfriend is a KGB agent. The story got reworked for the ending of 2008's Quantum of Solace.

Final Thoughts

This collection of James Bond stories is extremely short. The Kindle version is under 100 pages, and I read all four tales in under 45 minutes. While all the stories are good in their own right, my favorite is The Living Daylights. Bond has a bit of character depth, where he's struggling with whether or not to kill an assigned target. Here we learn Bond doesn't like to kill and will only do so out of loyalty to the crown.

Overall, I enjoyed rereading the Octopussy and The Living Daylights short story collection. While these tales aren't the best 007 adventures, all four were fun to read.

1 comment:

  1. I'll admit Octopussy is one of my favorite Bond films. It might be that I watched 1,327 or so times on HBO growing up lol, or... I just like it. Shrug. I was a Moore fan.

    "The Property of a Lady" I remember that line from the auction scene in Octopussy. i like how they did little things like that...

    The bit about Bond not liking to kill is nice too. Good to see a little character development there


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