What is most noteworthy about this entry in the extended series is when Bond enters the story. The novel is nearly half over by the time the signature spy is introduced. Fully half the work involves showing the reader the lengths and effort SMERSH is using to eliminate Bond. This approach was wholly original and helped further define Bond (and by extension, the world in which he operates) by offering so much detail about his opposition.
While the above mentioned set-up was a welcome change of pace, the overt monologuing at the end of the story was... less so. Indeed, "Captain Nash's" speech at the end of the book proved my biggest dislike. Regardless of how part and parcel that practice is with this particular series, it was still distracting and borderline disruptive. It is one thing to accept Bond's greatest qualities as a secret agent are his fortitude and unearthly luck. It is quite another to find his antagonists regularly explaining every facet of their plan, however minute (and at times, not entirely relevant to Bond). Yes, it is part of the charm peculiar to this sub genre of spy fiction, but surely there must be other ways to present that information, even if hat deviation from the formula is only occasional.
All ranting about plot presentation aside, "From Russia With Love" still stands as one of the great pulp spy thrillers. The reasons are many and varied; well worth spending a few hours to discover and delight in. And now for everyone's favorite part of a review... quotes!
"They are hard people. With them, what you don’t get from strength, you won’t get from mercy."
"General G. sought for a final phrase to convey the threat without defining it. He found it. ‘There will be,’ he paused and looked, with artificial mildness, down the table, ‘displeasure.’ "
"Even the highest tree has an axe waiting at its foot."
"A great deal of killing has to be done in the U.S.S.R., not because the average Russian is a cruel man, although some of their races are among the cruellest peoples in the world, but as an instrument of policy. People who act against the State are enemies of the State, and the State has no room for enemies. There is too much to do for precious time to be allotted to them, and, if they are a persistent nuisance, they get killed. In a country with a population of 200,000,000, you can kill many thousands a year without missing them. If, as happened in the two biggest purges, a million people have to be killed in one year, that is also not a grave loss. The serious problem is the shortage of executioners. Executioners have a short ‘life’. They get tired of the work. The soul sickens of it. After ten, twenty, a hundred death-rattles, the human being, however sub-human he may be, acquires, perhaps by a process of osmosis with death itself, a germ of death which enters his body and eats into him like a canker. Melancholy and drink take him, and a dreadful lassitude which brings a glaze to the eyes and slows up the movements and destroys accuracy. When the employer sees these signs he has no alternative but to execute the executioner and find another one."
- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: VINTAGE ARROW - MASS MARKET; 1 edition (19 November 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099576899
- ISBN-13: 978-0099576891
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 259 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 63,188 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)