First published in: 1953
Casino Royale was the first 007 novel ever written by Fleming
James Bond: Bond is an agent from the British Secret Service (BSS), codename 007 (00x means licensed to kill). He’s a handsome and clever agent. He’s very fond of women and he likes gambling.
Le Chiffre: Paymaster of a communist trade union for heavy industries in France. Has lost 50 millions of French Francs of USSR money. He’s going to try to win it back in a casino. If he won’t, he will be killed by SMERSH (the most powerful arm of the USSR Secret Service ranks above KGB).
Vesper Lynd: Help for Bond from the French Secret Service. Female.
Mathis: Help for Bond from the French Secret Service. Male.
Felix Leiter: CIA’s help for Bond. Male.
Le Chiffre has 50 million francs in debt, and SMERSH will realize that he stole the money soon. Knowing what an exacting and ruthless organization he works for, Le Chiffre plans to do some high gambling at the casino in Royale-les-eaux to make up the shortfall. The British Secret Service wants to get rid of Le Chiffre, so This is an unique opportunity for the BSS to get rid of Le Chiffre, because SMERSH will be guilty of killing Le Chiffre, so they won’t get dirty hands. Bonds task is to make sure that Le Chiffre won’t win the money back.
Bond tries to win from Le Chiffre money at the casino. There are a few attempts at Bonds life. He stays alive by smart thinking. Bond and Miss Lynd are growing near each other.
Le Chiffre loses a lot of money to Bond. Then two helps from Le Chiffre kidnap Vesper Lynd. Bond follows them. They catch Bond by a trick. They torture him, because they want to know where Bond has put his money that he won at the casino. Bond won’t tell. He’s a bit dizzy and suddenly an SMERSH-agent comes in. This man kills Le Chiffre and frees Bond.
Bond wakes up in a hospital in the hospital of Royale (also the place where the casino stays, the reason why the book is called Casino Royale). Vesper Lynd visits Bond every day. They really like each other. When Bond cures from his wounds, they go to an inn. They sleep together. After Vesper has called somebody, she’s suddenly depressed. She commits suicide. She has left a letter for Bond, which says (among other emotional things) that she was a USSR secret agent and she had to trap Bond, but she fell in love. If the USSR Secret Service would find out, she would have been murdered, she thought that suicide was better, otherwise would Bond also be killed.
Casino Royale lays out the groundwork for what will become future hallmarks of the 007 book series. A gruff, stern, yet caring "M". Witty flirtation between 007 and Miss Money-penny, M’s secretary, bad Russian, exotic locations, beautiful and willing women and ruthless villians.
Casino Royale also brings out a side of Bond that we see mostly in the novels: the dark side of Bond. A dark side that drives 007 to stay emotionally cold and aloof to the opposite sex. A dark side that sends him drinking away his anxieties about being a killer.
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