Octopussy and The Living Daylights
For James Bond, British secret agent 007, international espionage can be a dirty business. Whether it is tracking down a wayward Major who has taken a deadly secret with him to the Caribbean; identifying a top Russian agent secretly bidding for a Faberge egg in a Sotheby's auction room; or ruthlessly gunning down an unlikely assassin in sniper's alley between East and West Berlin, Bond always closes the case - with extreme prejudice.
Reviewed on 18th June 2012
The final entry in Ian Fleming's 14 books about James Bond is a second collection of short stories. Containing three or four tales about the character (depending on which edition you have), I actually feel it is the better of the two sets.
Of the four stories in my copy, I felt two were very strong - The Living Daylights is a piece focussing on the character of Bond, part of Fleming's writing that I've found the most interesting as I have re-read the series, as he takes on a mission in Berlin which he would rather avoid. The Property of a Lady is, in contrast, a piece about espionage, drawing on Fleming's real-life experiences to describe in thrilling detail the investigation of a mole in MI6.
I can't say I was as enamoured of the other two pieces - Octopussy features Bond as a secondary character, and is focussed entirely on his target as a character. While somewhat interesting, it almost feels like Bond is shoehorned in. 007 In New York, the only piece of Ian Fleming's Bond writing that I've not read before, was quite a disappointment. It is brief and feels forced - Bond is almost acting out of character in order to sell New York as a city.
Overall though, this serves as a good coda to the series, much more so than The Man With the Golden Gun, and I'm pleased that the short stories were collected for modern readers like me. Some of the short stories are the best character pieces about Bond and I've appreciated them much more on this re-read than the first time in my teens.