Was this when Fleming started to phone it in? I have enjoyed several of the earlier Bond novels, but this one was full of purple prose and even more cringe-inducing racism and sexism than usual. I mean, this is James Bond we're talking about, who was a misogynistic dick even when cleaned up for Hollywood, but Dr. No is pretty much wall-to-wall racial caricatures, along with a vapid sex kitten of a Bond girl. I know, you're saying "What makes her any different from all the other Bond girls?" Well, usually the Bond girls are double-agents or something, or at least they carry a gun, but Honeychile Rider is just a feral blonde who hangs out naked on beaches. But okay, expecting Ian Fleming to write strong female characters is like expecting Jane Austen to write swordfights.
James Bond is sent to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of the Kingston station operatives. After wandering around meeting the colorful locals (there will be something here to offend everyone, from the description of Jamaicans as "lazy children" to every single Chinese person being part of the Yellow Horde), Bond makes his way to Crab Key, an island owned by the mysterious Dr. Julius No. Dr. No turns out to be a half-Chinese megalomaniac with prosthetic hands who brags about how totally evil and powerful he is. He rants about how he's King of the World (actually, he's the king of a tiny guano-covered island), then he taunts Bond and his new squeeze for a while before putting them both into ridiculous deathtraps. When this evil "genius" wants to kill someone, he prefers using poisonous centipedes and giant squid as opposed to, say, a bullet
. You just know the ceiling lasers and submarine cars can't be far behind.Dr. No
was still fun in all its racist, sexist, cheesy pulpiness, but it lacked the details and thin veneer of plausibility that earlier novels had, and boy has Fleming's writing gone downhill in this one. Go ahead and read it if you are a Bond fan, but it's definitely not Fleming's best work.