Every major foreign government organization has a file on British secret agent James Bond. Now, Russia's lethal SMERSH organization has targeted him for elimination. SMERSH is the Soviet organ of vengeance, interrogation, torture, and death. James Bond is dedicated to the destruction of its agents wherever he finds them.Far away in Moscow, SMERSH has laid a death-trap for Bond with an enticing lure: the irresistible Tatiana Romanova, who lures 007 to Istanbul promising the top-secret Spektor cipher machine. But when Bond walks willingly into the trap, a game of cross and double-cross ensues -- with Bond both the stakes and the prize.More
"[Simon Vance] delivers an entertaining performance of one of Fleming's best 007 novels. Using a rich palette of international voices and accents, [Vance] takes an engaging story and infuses it with the additional drama that only a fine actor can provide." (AudioFile)
"From Russia with Love is perhaps the most successful of the Bond series: Fleming has managed to blend excellent characterizations with a highly suspenseful and clever story. The detail is rich and colorful, and the novel contains purely romantic elements that are missing from most of the other books." (Raymond Benson, author of High Time to Kill)
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The Best of Them All
This thriller is great fun because it has a great Cold War plot, a believable romance, danger, and friendship, all along the backdrop of a city which is still exotic to Westerners. It is also plausible, unlike many James Bond novels. It is the simple story of a trap set up to avenge the death of a Russian operative using a pretty girl as bait. Along the way is a psychopath hit-man sent to kill Bond, an Enigma-type code machine, and a beautiful Russian girl who may or may not be falling in love and may or may not be defecting. Each facet of the novel is true and no one portion takes away from the other. It is a nice hat-trick Fleming pulled off here. Even a John LeCarré fan would like From Russia, with Love.
The plot is ingenious as you are given the trap first and then see how Bond is lured into it. As most present-day people saw the movies first and read the novels second, one might expect Grand Guingol set-pieces and villains. But it is a simple story, drawn out piece by piece as each participant is introduced and given their job. Unlike many Bond novels, where you only know what Bond knows, in this case we know more and that creates greater tension.
Darko Kerim is a great performance by Vance. His throaty Turkish rasp was filled with the mirth and joie de vivre you'd expect from a former circus performer who rose to become the head of the Turkish station. You grew to like the guy and could see why the Bond character, always suspicious and terse, would grow to like him also.
Fleming's novels are not terribly emotional, so it is difficult to become vested in the characters. This novel is different. As the characters are well-defined and the relationships are believable, one actually wonders what will happen to the beautiful Russian. And, frankly, despite all the torture and violence in Bond novels, this is the only one where you think he might get killed, even when you know the plot. It is very hard to put this one down.
This is the best Bond novel, hands down. Even if you don't read Fleming (and you have to be a fan to read a preponderance of them), this thriller will stand the test of time. You don't have to understand the canon to read this one and it doesn't matter if you read more stories. Enjoy a good Cold War yarn.
- Pork C. Fish
One of Fleming's best makes a great listen
- DARBY KERN