|Published in:||For Your Eyes Only|
|Alternate title:||"The Rough with the Smooth"|
|Collected in:||For Your Eyes Only|
|"The Hildebrand Rarity"||"For Your Eyes Only"|
"From a View to a Kill" is a short story written by Ian Fleming featuring his fictional secret agent James Bond, first published in 1960. The story was one that Fleming had drawn up for an unproduced television series.
The title is taken from a version of the words to a traditional hunting song, "D'ye ken John Peel?": "From a find to a check, from a check to a view, from a view to a kill in the morning". The original name for the story was "The Rough with the Smooth", which was also the original title of the books, before For Your Eyes Only was chosen for publication.
In a rural part of northern France, a motorcyclist screaming down a forest road. He is outfitted as a Royal Corps of Signals messenger, but he carries a Luger. He sees a similar messenger in front of him. The rider kills an actual NATO dispatch rider carrying reports from NATO headquarters to an MI6 station. The rider was en route from SHAPE, the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, then located in Versailles, to his base, Station F, in Saint-Germain in France.
James Bond, taking a break in Paris from a failed assignment in Austria, is called in to investigate and meets a young woman from the local station sent to pick him up, Mary Ann Russell, whom he is rather attracted to. She takes him to the local commanding officer, the American SHAPE head of security, Colonel Schreiber whom does not see eye to eye with Bond.
The case seems to be a dead end, with little evidence and the assassin long gone, and Bond doesn't get along with his NATO liaison. Bond plugs away without expecting to get anywhere, but latches onto one stray fact that seems like the only possible clue: a band of gypsies that had stayed the winter near the rural road where the killing took place cleared out around the same time. Bond goes to the clearing where they stayed and finds marks that look as if a motorcycle was brought through the woods.
He comes back in camouflage gear and stakes the clearing out, witnessing the motorcycle assassin leaving a hidden underground bunker with the help of two assistants to go cruising for another possible catch. Bond sets up a plan to get inside the bunker before the assistants can destroy whatever they have inside. He rides the dispatch route, disguised as the dispatch rider, and manages to kill the assassin just before the Soviets can kill him.
Bond then goes back to the clearing, where he has backup hidden, disguised as the assassin, and signals for the bad guys to open up. They come out, but fight when they realize it's a trap. One gets on top of Bond and almost kills him, but he's killed just in time -- by Mary Ann Russell, who came along despite Bond not wanting her to, shooting the assailant with her .22 Pistol. They then leave the station men to clean up the job and go off alone with one another.
"From a View to a Kill" was initially intended to be the backstory for Hugo Drax, the villain of the novel Moonraker. The story would have taken place during World War II, and featured Drax as the motorcycle assassin who crashes his bike and is taken to an American field hospital. Later, the hospital is bombed, leaving Drax with amnesia and a disfigured face.
The idea of the underground hideout was inspired by Fleming's brother Peter's band of Auxiliary Units who dug tunnel networks in Britain in 1940 as part of a resistance movement in advance of a German invasion. "From a View To a Kill" appeared in a number of magazines, including Argosy in 1961 (as "Paris Courier"), and Fury Magazine in 1962 (as "A Nice View For Killing").