The new Spectre movie is disappointing because it erodes what made Casino Royale‘s total reboot of the 007 franchise so fresh and interesting in the first place. The film is coarsely done, with a sense of being very disjointed. Anyway, the novels can be both sloppy and suspenseful. I have a habit to digging those Flemming books and reread when a new Bond movie is open. The Bond of the novels is always loyal, quietly debonair, and able to withstand tremendous pain. Unlike the Bond on the screen, Fleming Bond enjoys a good life and isn’t a playboy. From the original novels, I like these three:
Casino Royale. The post-war Soviet/NATO propaganda warfare alone is enough to like this book. The gambling scenes are very intense: Vesper Lynd is up to Bond’s scratch in every way. It’s everything a reader wants in a spy novel.
From Russia, With Love. This book has the most unusual structure of any Bond novels. It gives you a basic outline of the scam SMERSH is trying to run on Bond, but not very obvious from the beginning. There is the hitman from the beginning, then a Russian double-agent who is going to destroy Bond—but she disappears for a good chunk of the book. It’s a true thriller, and not to mention the ride on the Orient Express.
Moonraker. This is the one book that I think the film has ruined. A believable but larger than life ex-Nazi rocket scientist in a classic Cold War anxiety plot make this one a great read. Moonraker has a gambling scene that, while not in a casino, is as satisfying and intriguing as any car chase.