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Monday, May 23, 2011

Recently read: "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" by Ian Fleming

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (James Bond Novels)

I returned to the Bond books, as I've almost reached the end of the novels, in my effort to read them in order.  For a long time, the movie adaption of this book was my favorite of the movies (though now it may be Thunderball) and I wanted to see how the book held up.

It's a bit longer than most of the other novels, but the movie is remarkably faithful to the book (a big change from the previous read The Spy Who Loved Me (reveiwed here), which had nothing to do with the movie except Bond).  The book has Bond, contemplating retirement from the service, meeting the love of his life, Tracy.  Meeting her allows him (through her father) to get a lead on Blofeld, who is in the Swiss Alps, searching for respectability (and plotting, also, lol).

We get the ski chase, and the car chase (with Tracy driving, as in the movie), and the eventual attack on the Alps hideout by Bond with Tracy's father.  We get the bobsled chase, with a bit of a different ending.

We also get the marriage, and the tragic end, as in the movie.  This book forms a good bookend with Casino Royale (the first Bond book) with Tracy and Vesper Lynde being the two great loves of his life, each with different tragic ends.

Recently read: "Bride of the Rat God" by Barbara Hambly

Bride of the Rat God

I started reading Hambly early in her career (with The Time of the Dark series) since at that time I was still reading a lot of fantasy.  I stopped reading her as my reading became more concentrated on Science Fiction, though I did pick up some of her Benjamin January books as I became interested in the occasional historical mystery.

Much of her back list has recently become available in digital formats, and I pick up a handful, including this one.  Written in 1994, I remember when the mass market paperback was on the shelves, and knew it was something a bit different.  Set in 1923 Hollywood, amidst the silent film industry, it has star Chrysanda Flamande, a diva who has her widowed sister-in-law Nora living with her (and serving as her gal Friday, I suppose, whose job is mainly looking after the three Pekingese dogs that Chrysanda dotes on).  There's a horrific murder of an attractive stunt man (could the killer be her older, gay co-star?) and the arrival of a mysterious Chinese man warning of the coming of the Rat God.

I know next to nothing about early Hollywood, but it appears that Hambly did her research, and it feels right in the book.  There's a lot of info about filming which is fun.  The primary viewpoint character is Nora, who is still nursing the hurt of her husband's death, though the attention of a cameraman will brighten her spirits, as will the chance to do some screenwriting.

This is basically a B-movie, in book form, and as such is a lot of fun.