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Octopussy and The Living Daylights

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Octopussy and The Living Daylights
Octopussy and The Living Daylights
Author: Ian Fleming
Cover artist: Richard Chopping
Published by: Jonathan Cape
Pages: 95
Release date: 23 June, 1966
Alternate title: Octopussy
Publication order
Previous: Next:
The Man with the Golden Gun Colonel Sun

Octopussy and The Living Daylights (sometimes published as Octopussy) is the fourteenth and final James Bond book written by Ian Fleming in the Bond series. The book is a collection of short stories published posthumously in the United Kingdom by Jonathan Cape on 23 June 1966. It served as a postscript to his James Bond canon.

The book originally contained just two stories, "Octopussy" and "The Living Daylights", with subsequent editions also carrying firstly "The Property of a Lady" and then "007 in New York".

Plot overviewsEdit

At the start of You Only Live Twice, Bond complains about the meaningless assignments he had undertaken since the death of his wife, Tracy, at the end of On Her Majesty's Secret Service. It has been suggested that some of the stories in the collection may well have taken place during this dark period of Bond's career; the mention of Mary Goodnight in "The Property of a Lady" implies that that story at least takes place after On Her Majesty's Secret Service, where the character was introduced. The same story also introduces Maria Freudenstein, who is later said to have been killed in The Man with the Golden Gun, indicating it is set before that novel at the very least.

"Octopussy"Edit

Main article: Octopussy

Told in a similar fashion to "Quantum of Solace", Bond is assigned to apprehend a hero of the Second World War implicated in a murder involving a cache of Nazi gold. Agent 007 appears briefly in this story, which is told mostly in flashback and from the point of view of Major Dexter Smythe, the villain. It tells of his story in killing a Nazi officer, Hannes Oberhauser, near the end of World War II in order to steal gold bullion which he used to pay for a life of luxury in Jamaica. He sells the gold through Chinese merchants for money in a market in Macau. He uses it to buy a house, Wavelets, on the North Shore.

Decades later when the Officer's body thawed out of a glacier MI6 investigated. Bond took the case as the officer was a friend who taught him to ski in his teens. Bond leaves after hearing the story and implies that the authorities will arrest him in due course after he writes a report. Rather than face the shame of a court marshal, Smythe commits suicide by allowing a poisonous scorpion fish to prick him and, on the verge of death, he feeds himself to his pet octopus.

"The Living Daylights"Edit

Main article: The Living Daylights

Bond is on the famous Centaury Firing Range at Bisley, where he is testing a rifle with an infrared scope. The rifle he is using is an American made .308 caliber International Experimental Target rifle. A five shot magazine that should not produce any fade at five hundred yards has replaced the usual single bolt action. The Chief Range Officer is pleased with the results, as Bond is consistently getting bull's-eyes even in the fading light. When he is finished, Corporal Menzies comes from the Pavilion of the Gun Club and dismantles the rifle and its stand. Bond tells him to tell the armourer that it is a very fine weapon, and when the Corporal says he is finding his own way back to London, he wishes him goodnight.

An unusually morose Bond is assigned sniper duty to help a defector known as "272" escape East Berlin. Bond's duty is to prevent a top KGB assassin codenamed "Trigger" from killing 272 by eliminating the sniper. However, the assignment becomes difficult when Bond discovers that Trigger is a beautiful female cellist whom he had earlier admired. Bond, never wishing to kill anyone in cold blood, decides to instead shoot the butt of her rifle, preventing her from making the kill. The mission, while successful, is also considered a failure due to Bond's last second decision to spare her, and it ends with Bond hoping that M fires him for it.

"The Property of a Lady"Edit

Main article: The Property of a Lady

James Bond is having a very uneventful day at the Ministry of Defence headquarters when M calls him in to his office to meet a Dr. Fanshawe. M explains that Fanshawe is an expert on antique jewelry and also an advisor to H.M. Customs and the CID on this subject.

Dr. Fanshawe now explains that H.M. Customs recently intercepted a parcel in the registered mail which contained a rare Fabergé egg with a declared value of £100,000. A Home Office warrant was obtained and the package clandestinely opened. Inside was the famous Emerald Sphere by Fabérgé and papers, in Russian and French, stating the provenance of the piece. The parcel was addressed to a Miss Maria Freudenstein, and according to the provenance, she has inherited the Sphere from her grandfather.

Bond investigates Freudenstein, who is a double agent about to be paid by her Russian keepers by auctioning the Fabergé egg at Sotheby's in her name. The Russians have sent the Resident Director of the KGB in London to attend the auction and underbid for the item in order to push the price to the necessary value to pay for her services as a double agent. Bond attends the auction in hopes of spotting this man; after doing so the man is expelled from London as persona non grata.

"007 in New York"Edit

Main article: 007 in New York

The story, "007 in New York", is an inconsequential tale in which Bond muses about New York City, and his favorite recipe for scrambled eggs from Loelia Ponsonby. Bond, traveling as David Barlow, is going through customs and immigration at New York's Idlewild airport. He has flown in on BAOC's Monarch flight from London and estimates that the FBI or the CIA will not detect him in the twenty-four hours he will be spending in New York.

His mission is to warn an ex MI6 employee, Solange, who used to be a first class staff officer for the Secret Service, that the American authorities are getting close to finding out that she is cohabiting with a KGB agent. The agent is attached to the United Nations and M is sending Bond to tell her that the CIA is close to identifying her.

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