|Cover artist:||Richard Chopping|
|Published by:||Jonathan Cape|
|Release date:||8 April, 1957|
|Diamonds Are Forever||Dr. No|
From Russia, with Love is the fifth novel in Ian Fleming's James Bond series, first published in the UK by Jonathan Cape on 8 April, 1957. As with the first four books, From Russia, With Love was generally well received by the critics. By the time the book was published, Fleming did not know whether he wanted to write another Bond book or not and contemplated creating a new splinter series.
The book opens with a lengthy section in which the various pieces of the plot against James Bond are put in place, but which stops before the plan becomes precisely clear. General Grubozaboyschikov, the leader of SMERSH assembles several other intelligence service heads and reveals a directive from on high for Soviet intelligence to make a big strike against one of their enemies to make up for recent embarrassments.
They settle on targeting Britain, and take aim at James Bond as Britain's most prominent agent. Their aim is to not only kill him, but destroy his reputation in a public scandal that will make MI6 look bad in the public eye. Colonel Rosa Klebb, SMERSH's director of operations, works with the head planner and chess champion Kronsteen to put the plan into effect, recruiting the stunningly beautiful Corporal Tatiana Romanova to seduce Bond and employing SMERSH's top executioner, Irishman Donovan "Red" Grant, as the assassin.
Bond is introduced at breakfast with his housekeeper, May, reflecting on the fact that he's getting soft after nearly a year without a mission in the field. He gets called into M's office, though, and informed that Tatiana has contacted MI6 in Turkey with her desire to defect, and bring along a Spektor cryptography machine, if Bond comes to collect her -- because she's fallen for Bond after seeing photographs of him in his file there. M and Bond are both suspicious, but are intrigued by the odd setup and the huge payoff, and decide to play along for the time being. Bond goes to Istanbul, where he meets Darko Kerim, station chief.
Bond gets a feel for the city from Kerim and waits for Tatiana to make contact. Kerim takes Bond to dinner at his friend's gypsy camp, which comes under attack from Soviet agents in an assassination attempt against Kerim, whom the Soviets think they need out of the way for their trap to work. Bond then helps Kerim retaliate by assassinating Krilencu, the head of the local Bulgarian muscle that the Soviets are using and returns to his hotel room to find a naked Tatiana lying in his bed. He questions her, buys her story, sets up her escape with him aboard the Orient Express, and has sex with her, all recorded by Soviet spies behind a one-way mirror.
Bond meets Tatiana with the stolen Spektor on the Orient Express, with Kerim coming along for the trip to Paris. They settle in, but Kerim detects three Soviet agents aboard the train. Kerim arranges to have two of them thrown off the train, but can't get at the third. That spy tries to kill Kerim, and succeeds, but not before Kerim kills him as well. Bond gets off at the next stop to call in to headquarters and request backup, and is met at Trieste by a man from the station there, Norman Nash.
Nash, however, is a tipped-off Red Grant in disguise, who drugs Tatiana at dinner and takes first watch in the compartment. He wakes an unarmed Bond in the middle of the night to gloat before killing him as planned as the train goes into a tunnel. Grant explains the plan to kill Bond and Tatiana, making it look like a murder-suicide committed by Bond when Tatiana revealed the blackmail film of them, planted in the compartment.
Bond manages to slip his metal cigarette case into his book and throw it up where Grant said he would shoot just as the train goes into the darkness of the tunnel. Bond plays dead on the floor, having mostly protected himself from the bullet, and slips a knife out from his attaché case, which he uses to stab Grant to death as Grant steps over him to kill Tatiana.
Armed with the details provided by Grant, Bond goes to Grant's rendezvous with Rosa Klebb in Paris after contacting his friend René Mathis for assistance, including disposing of the Spektor, which is actually a useless booby-trapped bomb. Bond is thrown off by Klebb's innocent-old-lady act just long enough for her to get the drop on him, and they fight as Bond tries to hold off the poisoned knitting needles she uses as weapons. He corners her as Mathis's men enter, but just as they take her away, she slips out a poisoned shoe blade and kicks Bond.
The book ends with Bond fighting for breath and falling to the floor, blacking out.