|Cover artist:||Kenneth Lewis|
|Published by:||Jonathan Cape|
|Release date:||5 April, 1954|
Live and Let Die is the second novel in Ian Fleming's James Bond series of stories, and is set in London, the United States and Jamaica. It was first published in the UK by Jonathan Cape on 5 April 1954.
As with Casino Royale, Live and Let Die was broadly well received by the critics. The initial print run of 7,500 copies quickly sold out and a second print run was ordered within the year. US sales, when the novel was released there a year later, were much slower.
James Bond arrives in New York after M sends him to liaise with the FBI and CIA in a multinational investigation of old gold coins that seem to be used by negro gangster and SMERSH operative named Mr. Big to finance SMERSH operations in North America. They think that Mr. Big has discovered a pirate treasure trove in Jamaica and is somehow smuggling the treasure back into America to sell.
Mr. Big, who uses fear of voodoo to control his followers and preys on racial solidarity to reap information from across the country, notes Bond's arrival and sends him a small bomb as a warning. After investigating all the background information on the case they can find, Bond and Felix Leiter, as his CIA liaison, are to go down to St. Petersburg, where they think Big is smuggling the coins in.
First, Bond and Leiter decide to head into Harlem to see if they can't get a look at Mr. Big's operations at his bar The Boneyard, but are detected and captured. They are separated, and Bond is brought before Mr. Big, who uses his kept white woman, Solitaire, as a psychic vetter. Bond realizes that Solitaire is held against her will, and she helps cover for him.
Convinced that Bond can never get any evidence on him that the FBI could use to put him away, Big warns Bond off the case and sends him away, only for Bond to overpower the henchman sent to dump him and shoot his way out. He meets up with Leiter, who was dumped, and before Bond is to leave on a train, he gets a call from Solitaire to help her escape.
She meets up with him on the train, where they start a romance. A sympathetic black porter informs them that Mr. Big has put out a hit on Bond and helps Bond get off the train early, shortly before Mr. Big's men bomb it. They proceed to St. Petersburg, where Bond and Leiter scope out the bait and fish warehouse where Mr. Big's yacht docks. While they're gone, Solitaire is recaptured.
Leiter sneaks out to check the warehouse again, and Bond finds him returned missing an arm and half a leg after he was dumped in a shark tank. Bond gets Leiter in a hospital and goes to the warehouse, where he outfights Big's man and figures out the smuggling scheme -- the coins are buried in the mud of aquariums filled with poisonous fish.
Bond then takes off for Jamaica, where local station chief John Strangways sets him up with Cayman Islander named Quarrel to train for a scuba crossing to the small island in the middle of a bay where Big is digging up the treasure under high security. Multiple divers have attempted to investigate, but all have been killed by sharks and barracuda. Bond attempts the swim, but Big's men pick up on his bubble trail and chum the waters to create a feeding frenzy.
Bond barely escapes and makes it inside a cave, where Mr. Big is moving out the last of the treasure. Big captures him and throws him in with Solitaire, both of them to be keel-hauled over a reef on the boat's way out, so that sharks eat them. Bond, who attached a timed limpet mine to the yacht before the feeding frenzy, has to hope that the mine blows just before they get to the reef. It does. The couple are then rescued by Quarrel.