Book Review: Ian Fleming's "The Spy Who Loved Me"

Rating: 2 out of 5

The 10th novel in the James Bond series of books by Ian Fleming centers not around James Bond, but Vivienne 'Viv' Michel. Viv is a newspaper reporter who was raised in Canada, went to finishing school in London, and decided to take a road trip across the States after a love affair gone bad. Two-weeks into her journey from Canada down to Florida, she pulls over into the Dreamy Pines Motor Court in New York and does a stint as a receptionist for the little motel. Once the tourist season ends, Viv gets tangled up in a deadly insurance scam when two thugs come to burn down the motel along with Viv! James Bond car happens to get a flat during a storm on that very night and pulls into the Dreamy Pines Motor Court. Needless to say, James Bond saves the day and gets the girl.

This is perhaps my least favorite of the Bond books thus far (I have been reading the series in order and have 3 more books to go). The novel is a little over 200 pages long and divided into three chapters. The first chapter is all back story, what took me one sentence to summarize above took about 90 pages to cover in the book. The long drawn out back story of a young woman leaving her home in Canada, getting her heart broken twice in London, having to get an abortion in Switzerland, then back to London to buy a Vesper and take a road trip across the United States, was something I could have done without. Things started to get interesting in the second chapter. The people who hired Viv on to help, the Phancey's, convince Viv to stay the last night to wait for the motel owner with her paycheck while they leave town. Two thugs, Horror and Sluggsy, show up at the motel, barge their way into the main cabin, and prepare for a night of torchure and rape before burning the place to the ground. Finally in the third chapter, James Bond shows up and saves the day.

Once the action starts building, the book good, it just takes a long time to get there. This is the third story thus far where James Bond is not the central character: in From Russia With Love, Ian Fleming tells the story through the eyes of a SMERSH killer; and in the short story the "Quantum of Solace" (in For Your Eyes Only), James Bond is a background character listen to the story of another man. If you are interested in reading through the eyes of another character in the Bond series, I highly recommend picking up From Russia With Love.

Overall, The Spy Who Loved Me was not a bad read, but could easily be left out of the series.