Dr No, a sinister recluse with mechanical pincers for hands and a sadistic fascination with pain, holds James Bond firmly in his steely grasp. Bond and Honey Rider, his beautiful and vulnerable girl Friday, have been captured trespassing on Dr No's secluded Caribbean island. Intent on protecting his clandestine operations from the British secret service, Dr No sees an opportunity to dispose of an enemy and further his diabolical research. Soon, Bond and Rider are fighting for their lives in a murderous game of Dr No's choosing.
Reviewed on 30th September 2011
The sixth James Bond novels shows the beginning of the larger-than-life super-villains that the series has come to be known for, in the character of Doctor No. When two MI6 agents go missing in Jamaica, Bond is dispatched for what is expected to be a light mission to find out where they have gone, only to find something altogether more sinister.
Fleming seems a little more relaxed with his novel - its predecessor, From Russia With Love, seemed far more conservative and thought out, whereas this novel shows a freer style that seems happy to extend from the unlikely to the edge of the ridiculous. The plot is far less believable than in the previous novels, though Fleming's attention to detail and beautiful imagery can almost fool the reader into thinking it could actually happen.
The character of Bond has changed - he's nicer. He's more compassionate and comes across as more feeling. This is particularly evidenced in his two main relationships in the novel - with Quarrel and Honey. There are some aspects where the book has aged - particularly with regard to the choice of language, a lot of which wouldn't be acceptable nowadays - however it's almost cute to see how the four-letter swearwords are neatly censored out when in a modern thriller they would be left liberally in.
I've found in my re-reading of the James Bond novels that in general I've appreciated the Europe-based novels over those set in the Americas, but Doctor No breaks this trend. It paints a picture that I can easily envision and that's better than the descriptions in Live and Let Die and Diamonds are Forever. Overall, despite how outdated some of it feels, I've enjoyed reading this again as an adult, and would recommend it as one of the highlights of the series so far.