While Ian Fleming’s Dr. No was the first to be made into a film, it was actually the sixth novel featuring the suave James Bond 007. While I haven’t yet read any of the intervening novels between Bond’s Casino Royale debut and this 1958 book, I can say that Dr. No was a much tighter, professionally written story than Casino.
James Bond, just returning to the British Secret Service after a term of medical leave, is sent to Jamaica on an easy mission to track down a missing agent and his assistant. The assumption is that they have run off together, but a series of suspicious occurrences leads 007 to believe something sinister is afoot.
Soon enough, Bond arrives on Crab Key—an island owned by the reclusive Dr. No—and finds himself fighting for survival in a sinister game of life and death.
In my review of Casino Royale, I complained about the relatively low aspirations of the villain, the early climax, and the drawn-out ending. Each of these problems has been resolved in Dr. No. Fleming crafted a tight, gripping, and powerful story that holds your attention from the first to the last page.
Dr. No is a madman whose plan would force the world’s superpowers to bow to his will, and certainly seems worth fighting. The climax is properly located very close to the end of the novel, and the ending itself is well-crafted and fits logically with the rest of the story. Fleming’s writing is excellent, clear, and vivid.
If you like the 007 genre, you will definitely love this book.
4.5 out of 5 stars.