DRNOI am kicking it old school with this week’s read, Dr. No by Ian Fleming.  I came across an old paperback version of this classic James Bond novel while I was sorting through some old books out in the barn.  I put the book aside and thought it might be fun to read at some point because it was relatively short and I had never read a Bond novel before.

So a few weeks ago I picked up the well-worn paperback and sat down to read it.  Maybe it was my mood, or maybe it was my newfound fascination with Mr. Fleming’s real-life exploits or maybe even a penchant for rediscovering the manly pursuits of the Mad Men-era, I ate it up and read it pretty much straight through.

About Dr. No by Ian Fleming: “James Bond travels to the Caribbean to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a secret service team. As he uncovers the astonishing truth about strange energy waves that are interfering with U.S. missile launches, he must battle deadly assassins, sexy femmes fatales, and even a poisonous tarantula. The search takes him to an exotic tropical island, where he meets a beautiful nature girl and discovers the hideout of Doctor No, a six-foot-six madman with a mania for torture, a lust to kill, and a fantastic secret to hide.”

Dr. No was not the first James Bond novel, although it was the first to be made into a film starring Sean Connery.  Growing up, my brother was big Bond fan and watched the old movies all the time. However, I really never got into them.  Even today I am not really a fan of the Bond series, even though I can’t deny their success and the lasting effect they have had on popular culture for over 50 years.

But by going to the original text, I was able to see the character Mr. Fleming was trying to create minus all the Hollywood pretensions.  The story is a very basic, if not a simplistic spy adventure.  However, in the hand of Mr. Fleming, it is a very entertaining story and surprisingly witty and well written.

Reading Dr. No today, versus when it came out in the late 1950’s, is also like stepping into a time capsule.  In addition to Cold War fears, there is a sexist, ignorantly racist and definitely non-PC tone – and it is oddly refreshing when viewing it through a contemporary lens. 

Dr. No by Ian Fleming is still in print and available in its many incarnations (including Kindle) from Amazon and other fine booksellers.