Despite being best known for his big screen exploits, James Bond first found life on the pages of Ian Fleming’s celebrated novels. 13 books and a collection of short stories make up the 007 series, but which are the most page-turning tales in the superspy’s history?
Live and Let Die
We’re leap-frogging Casino Royale to go straight in with Live and Let Die, the second book in the series, and possibly the best overall. The story, which charts Bond’s pursuit of Mr Big, an American crime boss who dabbles with voodoo and has a elaborate Jamaican base, teeters just on the right side of believable.
From Russia, with Love
The fifth book in the series is a peculiarity in the series, as Bond shares the role of the protagonist with the villain, assassin Red Grant. Shooting through Istanbul and Trieste via the Orient Express, this is classic bond – and was allegedly John F Kennedy’s favourite of the series.
From the ambitious narrative of From Russia, with Love to the simplicity of Dr. No. A classic villain, classic tropical setting, and classic escape storyline made this the perfect entry level book for producers to turn into a film. A must-read, this will reinvent the character for you.
Perhaps the most famous Bond villain, Auric Goldfinger is written into a truly menacing character. The locations and gadgets fade into the background in this title – and instead Fleming created a character piece, a study of paranoia, masculinity and competition.
Star Wars had just come out when producers decided to adapt this title – and they butchered the source material by relocating Roger Moore to space. In the book, nobody’s feet leave the earth – the title refers to a missile system. One of Fleming’s best, Moonraker contains the best car chase ever written.