Book Review: Ian Fleming's "Octopussy"

Rating: 3 out of 5

The fourteenth, and final, novel in Ian Flemming's James Bond canon, Octopussy (or Octopussy and The Living Daylights), is another short story collection (like For Your Eyes Only). The original publication only contained two stories: Octopussy and The Living Daylights; while later editions added The Property of a Lady and 007 in New York.


James Bond is just a background character in Octopussy, much like he was in "Quantum of Solace" from For Your Eyes Only. This story focuses on a retired member of the Royal Marines, Major Dexter Smythe. During the war, Major Smythe happened across a top secret document identifying the location of buried gold from the Reichsbank. In the process of acquiring the gold, Major Smythe had kidnapped and killed a former ski instructor of James Bond, named Oberhauser. After the war, Major Smythe had moved to southern Jamaica to spend the rest of his days in a life of luxury with his new wife. But, after her suicide, Smythe moved to the northern portion of Jamaica and spent most of his time drinking alone or observing the native aquatic life. At this point in his life is when James Bond appears. Bond, recovering from his latest assignment, was sent in to pick up Major Smythe on the Oberhauser murder charges and withholding the information of the Nazi gold from the service. (Octopussy is just the pet name he gave to a local octopus he had been observing)

The Living Daylights

James Bond works on his snipping in The Living Daylights, something we haven't seen Bond do in the entire series (briefly mentioned before he gained his double-oh status). Bond has to provide cover for Number 272, an operative out of Novaya Zemlya, as he crosses East Berlin with highly sensitive information. At one location in particular, there is a few hundred yards where 272 will be out in the open, and with the KGB on his tail, it is Bond's job to kill the KGB's number one sniper, Trigger.

The Property of a Lady

In The Property of a Lady, James Bond goes undercover at a jewelry auction where a rare piece of work by Carl Fabregé is going to be auctioned off. This "Terrestrial Globe" had found its way to the hands of a known double-agent in the Secret Service, and Bond's job is to sniff out a Resident Director of the KGB that would no doubt be in attendance to inflate the value of said item.

007 in New York

Ian Flemming was not a big fan of New York, this short story depicts James Bond traveling to New York to inform a former member of the Secret Service that her new boyfriend is a member of the KGB. But, because of New York, this simple assignment goes astray.