Dr. No
Dr. No
Author: Ian Fleming
Cover artist: Pat Marriott
Published by: Jonathan Cape
Pages: 256
Release date: 31 March, 1958
Alternate title: The Wound Man
Publication order
Previous: Next:
From Russia, With Love Goldfinger

Dr. No (sometimes published as Doctor No) is the sixth novel in Ian Fleming's James Bond series, first published in the UK by Jonathan Cape on 31 March 1958. The novel was originally a screenplay written in 1956 for producer Henry Morgenthau III for what would have been a television show entitled Commander Jamaica. When those plans did not come to fruition, Fleming adapted the ideas to form the basis of the novel, which he originally titled The Wound Man. The book's eponymous villain was influenced by Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu stories.

Notably, Dr. No was the first of Fleming's novels to receive large-scale negative criticism in Britain, with Paul Johnson of the New Statesman writing his review about the "Sex, Snobbery and Sadism" of the story. When the book was released into the American market however, it was generally received more favourably the opposite of the five previous novels.


Picking up a few months after From Russia, With Love, Bond has finally recuperated from his near-death poisoning by Colonel Rosa Klebb. MI6's neurologist disclosed that the poison was tetrodotoxin, which is obtained from the sex organs of the Japanese fish fugu. Tetrodotoxin paralyses the muscles of the victim while they stay fully conscious until eventually they die from asphyxiation. Bond is given first aid treatment by his friend, René Mathis, whilst a doctor is summoned. The doctor had spent time in Africa and had dealt with various poisons. He diagnoses curare poisoning and treats Bond accordingly.

Three negro assassins kill Commander John Strangways and his secretary, Mary Trueblood at the MI6 headquarters in Jamaica. As a result, M sends Bond to investigate the case, believing that the womanizing Strangways has run off with the girl and it will be a light case to let Bond get more rest in. Bond, a friend of Strangways, suspects there was more to it, but the only case Strangways even had going on was an investigation of an incident in which the wardens at a bird refuge on the remote island of Crab Key were killed and their camp was burned down.

The public suspects one of the isolated men there went crazy and killed the others. A plane from the Audubon Society following up on it then crashed and killed those aboard. Also on the island is Doctor Julius No, a mixed German-Chinese entrepreneur who bought the island to mine guano, but no one can think why he'd have anything to do with the deaths if they're not accidents.

Upon arriving in Jamaica, Bond sets to work with his old friend Quarrel, and quickly spots Annabelle Chung, a freelance photographer sent to spy on him and various attempts made on his life. All evidence on the attack's perpetrators seems to come back to the island's Chinese community, and Bond decides that whatever happened, Dr. Julius No was behind it.

He and Quarrel sail to Crab Key and slip in under No's literal radar to look for evidence so that they can get the governor, who wants to bury the case, to take action. Instead, they find Honeychile Rider, a semi-feral seashell collector, who did show up on the radar. Rider is a white Jamaican, descended from an old-established colonial family. She was orphaned at the age of five when her parents' house was burned down. She then lived with her black nanny in a cellar until she was 15, when her nanny died.

Protecting Honey

The "Dragon" pursuing Bond and Honey.

They attempt to hide in the swamp, but are eventually spotted by Doctor No's "dragon" used to terrify intruders -- a swamp buggy with a flamethrower. Quarrel is killed attempting to distract the dragon, whilst Bond and Honey are captured by Dr. No's men.

In captivity, Bond and Honey are treated to hotel-like accommodations and are taken to dinner with Dr. No himself, where No tells them of his youth and explains his background as a criminal accountant who stole funds from a powerful Chinese Tong. He had his hands cut off and was shot in the chest, but survived due to the bullet missing his heart as he has dextrocardia. No used the money he embezzled to get artificial pincers, went to medical college in the United States and bought the island of Crab Key from the Governor of Jamaica, looking for ultimate privacy in which to maniacally seek power.

Pandora's Box

Bond and Honey meet Dr. No.

Now, with Soviet backing and funding, he is sabotaging American missile tests off Florida with radio waves which interfere with their tracking and navigation systems. He elaborates on his plans to kill both Bond and Honey in experiments designed to observe the endurance of the human body, a curiosity of his. Honey is staked out just above ground to be killed by a swarm of crabs, while Bond is sent through a death trap filled obstacle course.

Bond was able to a steal a knife from the table, and manages to improvise a spear from the frame of a ventilation grate at the start of the obstacle course. With it, he's able to survive the course inside the ducts, coming out in a pool on the edge of the island that contains a captive giant squid. Bond barely manages to kill it with the spear, then sneaks around to the dock, where Dr. No is supervising the guano shipment.

Exit Crab Key

Bond and Honey escaping Crab Key.

Bond kills a crane operator, and uses the controls to bury Dr. No alive in the guano dung. He then goes to free Honey, but finds her already free. She states that crabs do not like human flesh and just let them pass her by, and she was able to work free eventually. The pair escape in the swamp buggy, making it to their boat, and get back to Jamaica, where the governor agrees to send forces to clean up Dr. No's operation. Bond and Honey then have dinner together in the remains of her burnt cellar.