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Bond, James

The Oxford Companion to Crime and Mystery Writing

Dana Bisbee

Bond, James, 

hero of a series of eleven novels, one novella, one short story collection, and several uncollected shorts written by Ian Fleming. More crime fighter than espionage agent, as an agent in the British secret service and commander in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (RNVR), Bond thwarts murder, gem smuggling, the robbery of Fort Knox, nuclear extortion, and a plan to wage germ warfare, among other crimes. The plots are varied, but the usual story line has Bond seducing the master criminal's exotically named woman companion and then killing the larger-than-life villain in a satisfyingly bizarre manner.

Fleming describes Bond as looking like the American popular composer Hoagy Carmichael, but a scar on his cheek adds a note of cruelty to his face. His “license to kill,” a deft use of firearms, the frequent physical torture he endures, his encounters with beautiful women with broad-pleated skirts and unvarnished nails, and the number of brand-name products—soaps, perfumes, autos, and guns among them—proliferating through the novels gave critics a three-word recipe for the series' success: sex, sadism, and snobbery. After Fleming's death, Bond's adventures continued in books penned by John Gardner.

The Bond books form the basis of a popular film series that has flourished for more than three decades; most of the films, however, bear only superficial resemblance to Fleming's novels. Several actors have portrayed Bond on screen, but the first of these, Sean Connery, is by common consent regarded as the definitive 007.

See also Adventurer and Adventuress; Femme Fatale; Sex and Sexuality; Spy Fiction.


Kingsley Amis, The James Bond Dossier (1965). Andrew Lycett, Ian Fleming (1996).Find this resource:

    —Dana Bisbee

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