Introducing James Bond: charming, sophisticated, handsome, chillingly ruthless, and licensed to kill. This, the first of Ian Fleming's tales of secret agent 007, finds Bond on a mission to neutralize a lethal, high-rolling Russian operative called "Le Chiffre" by ruining him at the Baccarat table, forcing his Soviet spymasters to "retire" him. It seems that lady luck has sided with 007 when Le Chiffre hits a losing streak. But some people just refuse to play by the rules, and Bond's attraction to a beautiful female agent leads him to disaster...and to an unexpected savior.More
Why we think it's Essential: Listening to Casino Royale is like peeling away the shell of a cultural icon and returning to the good, exotic thrillers that gave it birth. As captured by narrator Simon Vance, Bond is as suave, British, and ultra-competent as you'd expect, but he's also startlingly vulnerable, falling victim to both his enemies and his own doubts. With a wry, knowing delivery, Vance excels at capturing the tension in Fleming's prose: he wrings Bond's torture for every last, excruciating squirm. Ed Walloga
"[A]n intense, fascinating, and moody piece of fiction." (Raymond Benson, author of High Time to Kill)
"Britisher [Simon Vance] takes a suitably urbane approach, sounding as if he is attired in white tails and sipping a very dry martini between takes [and] taking particular pleasure with his characterizations." (AudioFile)
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The original, unapologetically sexist Bond
- David "Indiscriminate Reader"