Casino Royale at 65

Well, here’s something to make a memorable Friday the 13th.

65 years ago today, a novel hit the bookshops of Great Britain and introduced the world to a character that would change the definition of hero and the world of espionage… and it’s still going on.

Check out the home page and a great piece by Dustin with a little link to a bit I wrote 15 years ago for the 50th anniversary.



Well I hope everyone has enjoyed the acknowledgement of the day. Most of the FB groups I’m a part of have been giving a tip of the hat or raise of the martini to what one little novel launched.

So, around here, when did everyone first read CR?

I started with the novels and LALD was my first, but I was aware there were many books and that it was the second one. I picked up FRWL next but didn’t read it and then got a hold of CR, MR and DAF and then got myself up to speed. I was pretty young, but then got round to films.

In order, the novels do have a steady build of the character though. I had DN, GF, FYEO and TB and had just picked up OHMSS when I finished FRWL so I was sure Bond was alive, but hadn’t read how until DN. I appreciated the acknowledgement in the film when Bond has to surrender his Beretta, but I was mad at M for claiming it jammed. The damn oversized silencer snagged in Bond’s waist when he was trying to draw on Klebb dammit!

Odds are I won’t make it for another 65 years of Bond, but April of 2053 might just see an 85 year old 003 still typing away some bit of nonsense on a fan board… Ideally with the aid of a 25 year old sultry redheaded lass care giver with long legs, a cute bum and a tolerance for an old and incredibly wealthy Bond fan.


April 2053 sounds like a great date. I’ll be 81 on the 14th of that month so… I hope I’ll have the same motivation you seem certain you’ll have then. A sultry redheaded lass caregiver sounds… most convivial. More power to you!

Grief, I didn’t even know still existed…! Much less for the appearance of new articles.

Anyway, nice to read and acknowledge.

I first read Casino Royale after buying the 1996 Coronet edition during a trip to Sydney, and I still have that copy. That was years and years ago. It helped give me different perspective on the character after only being exposed to the films up to that point. I have the Dynamite hardcover graphic novel now, and that has brought Ian’s book to life in a whole new way. The story still holds up today. I love it.


Back in the 70s Casino Royale used to be an almost forgotten Fleming book in my country. Along with Live and Let Die and Diamonds Are Forever it was only available in a much rarer print from a publisher who didn’t make the most of these Bond bestsellers. So it came that for a couple of years I didn’t even know they existed.

When I finally found out about these treasures I had already been through the rest of the canon a couple of times. Also I was dimly aware of a continuity - Vesper Lynd is mentioned cryptically in Goldfinger - so I started these three books in the proper order.

Oddly enough, I got the impression this early model of James Bond was older than later versions, closer to the fated age of 45 than in most of his other adventures, at least until OHMSS and YOLT. It also shocked me that Vesper was a double agent. And - this is often ignored for I don’t know what reasons - that Bond covered for her in his debriefing. It’s no big thing, but as ‘amateurish’ goes it’s certainly even odder than Vesper’s behaviour. She had after all a very good reason. Bond only had his very private motivation.

However, Casino Royal became quickly one of the Bond adventures I regularly reread. There is a gruesome fascination to the tale, the near-misses on the street and in the casino, the race after Le Chiffre’s car, the torture and deus-ex-machina escape by the hairy hand of a SMERSH killer. The last act set the whole tale into Homeric perspective; the tough guys playing cowboys and Indians, the real life happening behind their backs, under their noses. For a ‘simple’ thriller that was almost a subversive conclusion, down to the last sentence…