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Shaken, not stirred

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007 books to ease those between-film James Bond cravings.

April 2020 is slated as the global release date for the latest in the 007 film series, No Time to Die. It’ll be five long years since Daniel Craig’s last gritty interpretation of Ian Fleming’s loveable rogue spy, in 2015’s Spectre. So it’s understandable that anticipation for the film is reaching fever pitch. To fill the time until that date, or to make up ground if you’ve come in late, here are 007 Bond titles to die for.

1. Casino Royale (1953)
Though the initial 1967 film adaptation of Fleming’s first Bond book was commercially successful, it was far from a critical darling. It took almost 40 years to make it back to the big screen. When it did, Daniel Craig’s snarling performance as Bond made serious waves.

2. Live and Let Die (1954)
OK, so it’s only a year since Fleming’s debut Bond book, but Live and Let Die gets special mention purely for the film’s theme song, written by none other than Paul and Linda McCartney and performed by Wings. Oh, and Bond’s journey into the heart of the occult makes for a pulsating read.

3. Goldfinger (1959)
Fleming’s seventh book in the series, Goldfinger takes Bond on a mission to stop notorious gold smuggler Auric Goldfinger, who is on the brink of the world’s largest heist. The blockbuster 1964 film adaptation is dripping in gold and yellow, featuring an iconic gold-plated Aston Martin with the licence plate ‘AU 1’ (referencing gold’s metallic symbol) and an assassination like no other.

4. A View to a Kill (1960)
Based on the Fleming short story ‘From a View to a Kill’ – published by Jonathan Cape in the anthology For Your Eyes Only – Bond travels to the USSR to capture a microchip and save Silicone Valley. It’s a gripping read, and the film is worth checking out for the unforgettable performance of Grace Jones, the synth-pop theme song by Duran Duran, and some epic snowboarding from US stunt double Tom Sims (before snowboarding was even really a thing).

5. Thunderball (1961)
A hijacked NATO plane carrying two nuclear bombs, a global blackmail, and plenty of spicy sun-soaked action in the Bahamas – including spear guns. No wonder Fleming’s first novelisation of an as-yet unfilmed screenplay was a smash.

6. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963)
Following Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is the second in what became known as the Blofeld Trilogy. Adaptations of the novel include a three-part series in Playboy magazine, a comic strip newspaper series, and a BBC radio play. The 1969 screen adaptation was the only appearance as Bond by Australian actor and model George Lazenby.

7. Octopussy and The Living Daylights (1966)
The fourteenth and final Bond book written by Fleming, Octopussy and the Living Daylights is a collection of short stories, which was published posthumously – two years after Fleming’s death in 1964. Unlike the 1983 screen adaptation of ‘Octopussy’, in the book Bond plays a relatively minor role. And although the writers and director of the 1987 film adaptation of ‘The Living Daylights’ – widely considered among Fleming’s best 007 stories – stuck closely to the source material, the film (by Bond standards) doesn’t nearly live up to the original text.