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The Man with the Golden Gun

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The Man with the Golden Gun
The Man with the Golden Gun
Author: Ian Fleming
Cover artist: Richard Chopping
Published by: Jonathan Cape
Pages: 221
Release date: 1 April, 1965
Alternate title:
Publication order
Previous: Next:
You Only Live Twice Octopussy and The Living Daylights

The Man with the Golden Gun is the thirteenth book of Ian Fleming's James Bond series. It was first published by Jonathan Cape in the UK on 1 April 1965, eight months after the author's death. The novel was not as detailed or polished as the others in the series leading to poor, but polite, reviews. Despite that, the book was a best-seller.

The first draft and part of the editing process was completed before Fleming's death and the manuscript had passed through the hands of his copy editor, William Plomer, but it was not as polished as other Bond stories. Much of the detail contained in the previous novels was missing, as this was often added by Fleming in the second draft. Publishers Jonathan Cape passed the manuscript to Kingsley Amis for his thoughts and advice on the story, although none of his suggestions were subsequently used.

PlotEdit

A telephone operator at MI6 takes a telephone call from a man claiming to be James Bond, they forward it to Captain Walker, who tests Bond's claims of identity. After Bond passes these tests, Walker consults a superior, his comments revealing that for several months the Ministry believed Bond was deceased. Walker is instructed to direct Bond to meet Major Townsend, his superior to further verify his claim.

After much scrutinising and interrogation, the man's identity is confirmed, but during his debriefing interview with M, Bond tries to kill him with a cyanide pistol; the attempt fails due to a plastic screen. Bond is overcome by Bill Tanner and the head of security.

Gun on M

Bond's attempt on M's life.

Later, M breaks up his usual, comfortable lunch routine at Blades by unusually ordering a full bottle of Algerian wine and of how he ponders his recent decision to put Bond back into service, he reads various reports at his desk on a suitable target for Bond to redeem himself. M decides on Francisco Scaramanga as a highly skilled assassin-for-hire with a reputation for exceptional marksmanship and sexual prowess, popular because of the outrageous nature of his assassinations and his ability to evade the law.

Other reports detail his psychological history, exploring why he became the killer he did, and also offer suggestions that because he's so obsessed and identified with his gun, he's perhaps not as sexually successful as his reputation would suggest. Finally, the various reports suggest that Scaramanga should be eliminated swiftly.

M orders Bond to the Caribbean to remove Scaramanga. Bond arrives at an airport in Jamaica and looks through the local newspaper, which advertises a sale at 3½ Love Lane in a local community called Savannah del Mar. Finally, out of habit, he glances through a pile of messages left for travelers to see if there's anything for him and discovers a message left for Scaramanga.

He opens it and discovers that there's to be a rendezvous at 3½ Love Lane the following day. He replaces the message and calls the office of an MI6 contact, where he's happily surprised to talk with Mary Goodnight, his former secretary, who is now stationed in Jamaica. After a bit of flirtatious banter, he asks her to get him a car and information on 3½ Love Lane.

Bond and Goodnight meet and they travel to Savannah La Mar in a car once belonging to John Strangways. After their arrival, Bond sends Goodnight back home in a rental car and wanders through town in search of 3½ Love Lane. When he finds it, he talks with the manager, a beautiful young half-caste woman named Tiffy, who explains that there are girls upstairs if Bond wants to spend time with them. Bond tactfully refuses, and then watches with amusement as Tiffy feeds a pair of large black birds. She's in the process of giving them a second helping, paid for by Bond, when quiet footsteps come downstairs. Tiffy immediately becomes fearful, telling Bond that the man coming down has a bad temper and that he should just go along with everything he says. Bond turns to look at the man and recognizes him as Scaramanga.

Love Lane

Bond and Scaramanga meet at Love Lane.

Scaramanga verbally harasses the woman and vainly shoots the two birds for making too much noise. She enters a hysterical state when Bond intervenes. He demands that the man apologise and compensate. Initially Scaramanga arrogantly counters and asks Bond who he is. Bond claims to be an insurance investigator for a crop growing company named “Mark Hazard”. Scaramanga is impressed with Bond’s nerve and apparent ability when Bond revealed that he carried a Walther PPK. Scaramanga hires him as his temporary personal assistant to provide security at a function he is hosting nearby.

Bond, following Scaramanga, arrives at the Thunderbird Hotel in the middle of the night, and he's shown to his room where he unpacks, undresses, has a shower, has a stiff drink, thinks about Scaramanga, and tests his gun. The following morning Bond strolls out for a swim and notices two important things—Scaramanga exercising strenuously, and the fact that what exists of the half-constructed hotel is mostly façade, apparently constructed to impress the investors. Bond swims more than usual, in order to bring his condition up to Scaramanga's.

While there Bond's encounter his old CIA friend, Felix Leiter, posing as a staff member along with Nick Nicholson, another agent undercover as the manager. A meeting between Scaramanga and the investors of the hotel begins. Bond, in his disguise as Scaramanga's personal assistant, is posted outside to keep anyone else from coming in. He eavesdrops as the meeting begins, with the KGB representative, Mr. Hendriks, warning Scaramanga and the others that a British agent named James Bond has been dispatched to kill Scaramanga. Scaramanga, however, laughs Hendriks off, saying that he's already killed another agent, Commander Ross and fed him to the crocodiles on the foot of the hotel property.

Hendriks then goes on to talk about the sugar situation. His statement reveals that the other investors, including Scaramanga, are involved in profiteering on the sugar crisis, a situation that he and his KGB superiors are unhappy with. Scaramanga explains how the profiteering scheme works and claims that he and the other investors have the situation well in hand by keeping ships with sugar off shore in the United States in order to arrive when the prices are more favourable. An investor tries to back out and is terminated by Scaramanga.

Bond, Leiter, and Nicholson discuss their plans for the rest of the evening—to observe and document the action when the body of a dead investor is fed to the crocodiles in order to secure evidence to try and convict Scaramanga and, hopefully, Hendriks. Shortly afterwards, Bond attends the dinner Scaramanga is hosting for his investors, finds it boring, and attempts to leave. Scaramanga tells him, however, that it's his responsibility to make the evening a success. Bond, against his superior judgment, accepts his challenge.

Trickshot

A drunken Bond demonstrating his marksmanship.

First, he expertly shoots the pineapple-shaped headdress off a dancing girl with Scaramanga’s golden gun, and then tells the leader of the calypso band to spice things up. As the band starts playing raunchy music, including the song "Belly-Lick", a group of dancing girls performs an increasingly erotic series of dances, which arouse the suspicion of Scaramanga and Hendriks that “Mark Hazard” may well be James Bond.

Bond goes to bed drunk and is awakened by a figure entering though his window. He discovers it to be Mary Goodnight who has an urgent message for him. They go into the bathroom of his room and she tells him that Hendriks has sent to KGB headquarters in Havana for more detailed reports on Bond as he now suspects that he is in fact the man himself. Scaramanga enters Bond’s room inquiring as to what was going on. Bond bluffs that Goodnight is his fiancée and she had news that his mother was ill. Scaramanga disgruntledly accepts the story and allows Goodnight to leave and tells Bond to provide security for a meeting between himself and Mr. Hendriks in the morning.

Next morning, Bond goes into the conference room where Scaramanga's meeting with Hendriks is scheduled to take place. He gives the impression of doing his "job" as a security advisor, making sure the room is clear of listening devices, and then greets both Hendriks and Scaramanga as they come in. Both men look at him coldly, and then close the door. Bond listens at the door through a champagne glass, the open end of which he places on the door and the bottom end against his ear. The conversation between Hendriks and Scaramanga confirms that they both now know who Bond really is, and that Scaramanga plans to kill him that afternoon.

The conversation also reveals how the two men are also involved in an illegal weapons trade, are planning to get involved in the drug trade, people smuggling in Mexico and working towards establishing an illegal casino gambling trade in Jamaica. Bond reports this to Leiter who relays the information to Washington. Scaramanga then announces he will take the group on a train ride to Green Island in Green Bay.

Train Trip

Scaramanga's train.

Leiter is nowhere to be found and Bond boards the train with the others. He is instructed to sit up the front with the Rastafarian driver by Scaramanga, who sits in the back himself. After a short while Bond sees an obstruction on the tracks ahead, the body of a blonde woman. Scaramanga laughs and says that he caught a British agent called Goodnight and wants to now bid her “goodnight”. Horrified, Bond hauls back on the train's accelerator, shoots Hendriks in the head, watches helplessly as the driver is struck by a stray bullet from one of the investors, then grimaces in pain as a shot from Scaramanga rips through his shoulder, and stares in disbelief as the train plows through the body on the tracks, revealed to be a mere mannequin.

He immediately speeds the train up again to throw Scaramanga and the "investors" off balance, and suddenly realizes Scaramanga himself has been shot. As he's wondering how it happened, Felix Leiter steps up from behind Scaramanga and orders the other investors to throw their weapons over the side. Bond realizes that Leiter had been hidden on the back of the train all along, and playfully teases him about waiting so long to make himself known. Scaramanga is nowhere to be seen, but Leiter reveals he shot him in the torso. Leiter urges him to jump, and fast. Before he does so, the investors, terrified and gun-less stay on board as Leiter likewise jumps leaving the train to cross a bridge wired with explosives where the remaining investors are all killed.

Crab Meat

Bond shooting Scaramanga.

Bond searches the mangroves for Scaramanga. He finds him eating the carcass of a snake, but before he can finish the gunman off, Scaramanga shoots Bond with a poisoned bullet from his backup weapon, a golden Derringer. Bond is struck and Scaramanga lunges towards him with a knife. Bond returns fire, killing Scaramanga instantly with three shots to the chest. Soon thereafter, a policeman finds Leiter and eventually the nearly dead Bond, just in time to save him.

Bond awakes in hospital, during which a conversation between an intern and a nurse reveals several important points, that Scaramanga's bullets were tipped with snake venom, that those bullets missed Bond's internal organs by millimeters, and that immediate attention to the wounds from a Jamaican police officer saved Bond's life.

A visit is then paid to Bond by several Jamaican officials, Mary Goodnight, and Leiter. On this visit, a Jamaican judge details the official, politically correct, legally uncomplicated, and diplomatically manipulated version of the events at the hotel and on the train. He asks Bond and Leiter to confirm whether that version is true. When they do, the judge awards them both a medal and leaves, along with the rest of the officials. Bond reads a cable from M deciphered by Goodnight and is offered a knighthood (KCMG—Bond already has CMG) for services past and present to Britain, but he turns it down because of his love for anonymity.

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