OHMSS is the 11th of Ian Fleming’s James Bond series. It is the middle book of the Blofeld trilogy.
Ian Fleming’s James Bond series is available to borrow for free for Kindle owners with Amazon Prime. Since I enjoy free things and the James Bonding podcast, I’ve been slowly reading through the series for a year or so. It is difficult to discuss the Bond books without talking about the movies or the author, Ian Fleming because they are all interrelated. To avoid those discussions, any reviews of Bond books I will post will focus on the books themselves, rather than the movies or Ian Fleming and his…proclivities.
If you’re interested in reading through the Bond books, I wouldn’t start here. Start with Casino Royale. You may already know the story from the Daniel Craig movie, and you’ll see why Craig was perfectly cast. In Royale, Fleming writes Bond as a kind of cruel-faced philosopher-brute. Descriptions are visceral, Bond has a kind of fatalistic view of himself and world events. Bond becomes more cartoonish at times in later books, so for the purposes of this book you just need to know:
- Bond likes to eat.
- Bond likes to drink.
- Bond likes to gamble.
- Bond likes to drive.
- Bond likes one-night stands.
OHMSS has plenty of all of those things, plus skiing! This book begins with Bond on a hot gambling streak, though he’s distracted by a sad, beautiful woman. Bond is really into sad, beautiful women, even though he doesn’t have a lot of time for their “feelings” and other shenanigans.
The woman’s troubles lead Bond, in a roundabout way, to a crime boss with a heart of gold. He also stumbles upon the trail of Blofeld, one of his arch-nemeses. To track Blofeld, Bond poses as a genealogy expert at a ski resort. (It makes more sense in the book.) Evil, world dominating hijinks ensue, including a pretty intense luge scene and a bad guy vs. bad guy battle not unlike the Anchorman movies.
While Fleming has a deserved reputation for writing what we would consider completely inappropriate and insane prose (ex. “They caught the woman’s yellow sun visor and shone through, turning her face Chinese.”), he does have a knack for making Bond sympathetic. The (non-Craig) movies portray Bond, for the most part, as a quippy frat daddy in a tux. In the books, Bond is basically a lonely, functioning alcoholic with a fatalistic streak and an indifference to his own life. At times it can be sad. That Bond is in this book, if you’re interested in that kind of thing.
My favorite Bond books came early in the series; I wouldn’t recommend this one over Casino Royale, Moonraker (my favorite), Diamonds are Forever, or From Russia with Love (second favorite, maybe).