|Cover artist:||Richard Chopping|
|Published by:||Jonathan Cape|
|Release date:||23 March, 1959|
|Alternate title:||The Richest Man in the World|
|Dr. No||For Your Eyes Only|
Goldfinger is the seventh novel in Ian Fleming's James Bond series, first published in the UK by Jonathan Cape on 23 March 1959. Goldfinger originally bore the title The Richest Man in the World and was written in January and February 1958. Fleming developed the James Bond character more in Goldfinger than in the previous six novels, presenting him as a more complex individual.
Fleming structured the novel in three sections—"Happenstance", "Coincidence" and" Enemy action"—which was how Goldfinger described Bond's three seemingly coincidental meetings with him. Goldfinger was also the longest of Fleming's novels, exceeding 300 pages.
Bond is in Miami, reflecting on his last mission. Sent to put a stop to a heroin-smuggling operation in Mexico, Bond broke up the ring, but killed a man who was sent to assassinate him, and the suddenness of the death still bothers him. In the airport, with his flight delayed a day, he's approached by Junius Du Pont, one of the fellow gamblers from Casino Royale, to resolve a problem: Du Pont is sure that he's being cheated at canasta by Auric Goldfinger, millionaire jeweler and metallurgist.
Bond is wined and dined by Du Pont at his hotel and agrees to look into it, and figures out that Goldfinger has his secretary, Jill Masterton, spying on Du Pont's card hand from a distance on the balcony of their room with binoculars. Bond catches Goldfinger in the act and forces him to apologize and pay back Du Pont the money he's won off him. Bond then has a brief affair with Masterton before returning to London.
Back at headquarters, M orders Bond to look into Goldfinger, whom the government suspects of gold smuggling, possibly on the Soviets' behalf. Having been told that Goldfinger was fond of golf in Miami, Bond goes out to Goldfinger's home course, where he manages to make it seem as if he casually bumped into him. He plays Goldfinger, knowing that Goldfinger cheats, with the goal of beating him, forcing Goldfinger to respect him and set up his cover as a potential asset to Goldfinger's operation. Bond manages to beat Goldfinger, but only by out-cheating him on the last hole.
Goldfinger then invites Bond to his house, where he leaves Bond alone while he takes care of business. Bond snoops around, finds nothing particularly incriminating, but does discover that he's being recorded. Goldfinger introduces Bond to his factotum, a Korean named Oddjob. He barely manages to ruin the film and pin it on Goldfinger's cat before Goldfinger gets back. Bond isn't able to get in closer with Goldfinger, so he trails him on his trip to Switzerland.
On the way to Geneva in his newly issued Aston Martin DB Mark III, Bond runs into Tilly Masterton, Jill's sister, on the road who is also following Goldfinger, and sees Goldfinger make a dead drop of a gold bar, confirming that he's a Soviet agent. At Goldfinger's factory in Switzerland, Bond figures out that Goldfinger is smuggling the gold via his vintage Silver Ghost car, which is supposedly armour-plated, but the armour is actually gold that's taken off, melted down, and recast for smuggling to India.
Bond gets caught by Goldfinger's guards, however, when he tries to stop Tilly from killing Goldfinger in revenge for his murder of Jill over her perceived betrayal. Goldfinger gets Oddjob to apply torture techniques on Bond to reveal what he's really doing following him by strapping him to a saw, but Bond sticks to his cover story and offers to work for him, a ruse that Goldfinger initially refuses, but then accepts.
After passing out, Bond wakes up in New York, where Goldfinger has brought both him and Tilly as prisoners. Goldfinger still doesn't trust them, but believes they can be useful by helping him organize his upcoming caper "Operation Grand Slam" from within strict captivity. Bond serves as Goldfinger's assistant as Goldfinger brings together numerous criminal gangs to execute a heist at Fort Knox. The criminals are impressed by Goldfinger's meticulous planning and go in on it, including Pussy Galore, leader of a lesbian acrobat burglar gang, and with whom the likewise lesbian Tilly is totally infatuated. One of the gang leaders, Helmut Springer, refuses to join the operation and is killed by Oddjob.
Learning that the operation includes the killing of the inhabitants of Fort Knox by introducing poison into the water supply, Bond manages to conceal a capsule containing a message into the toilet of Goldfinger's private plane, where he hopes it will be found and sent to Pinkertons, where his friend and ex-counterpart Felix Leiter now works, promising a reward for delivery. When Bond and the gang get to Fort Knox, he finds out that the note did get to Felix and to the US government, who took it seriously, saving the life of everyone there. Goldfinger's forces are ambushed by the government, but Goldfinger and his henchman Oddjob escape, along with the gangster leaders. Tilly is also killed in the chaotic crossfire by Oddjob.
Bond is about to get on a plane to go home when Goldfinger has him called to a counter, drugged, and brought aboard his escape plane for revenge. Bond realizes that Pussy, the only gang leader to survive Goldfinger, wants out, and with her aid he gets free and breaks a window, sucking Oddjob, whom Bond could never hope to beat in a straight fight, out of the plane. Bond then kills Goldfinger hand-to-hand and forces the pilots, who can't make land, to ditch in the ocean near a Canadian weather ship. They get picked up and Bond romances with Pussy, questioning her own lesbianism.
After publication of the novel, the details of "Operation Grand Slam" were questioned, with critics noting it would have taken hours, if not days, to remove $15 billion from Fort Knox, during which the U.S. Army would have inevitably intervened. The issue of getting every soldier on the base to drink the poisoned water without an alarm was also raised. A final problem was the "clean" atomic bomb, tactical or not, which in all likelihood would have annihilated the vault instead of breaking it open.
Consequently, the 1964 film adaptation altered the details of the plan. The plot is revealed to be rendering the gold contained in the Depository radioactive and useless, crippling the gold standard-based economy and thereby dramatically driving up the price of the gold Goldfinger already owns. A scene in the film even uses a confrontation between Goldfinger and Bond to point out logistical flaws in the plan as set out in the original novel.