Author: Ian Fleming
Publication date: 5th April 1954
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Cover artist: Kenneth Lewis
1954 saw the publication of Live And Let Die, set in the US and Fleming’s second home of Jamaica. Full of imagination, it saw a change of pace from the previous book with its descriptions of gambling and paved the way for Bond as an action hero.
Also see: the James Bond books
Mixing voodoo with pirate treasure and SMERSH, the book is the first to introduce Fleming’s fascination with the ocean and once in Jamaica is full of local colour.
The film of the same name was the first to star Roger Moore and like most of the films had very little to do with the book beyond sharing the names of the villain, Mr Big, and the girl, Solitaire.
Interestingly enough, a scene where Bond and Solitaire are dragged behind a boat over a shark infested reef was later used in the film For Your Eyes Only, and Licence to Kill starring Timothy Dalton was quite obviously, but loosely, based on the book.
007 is sent to New York, where he again teams up with CIA agent Felix Leiter, who takes Bond to a number of nightspots in Harlem. They later follow a lead that takes them to St Petersburg in Florida. Finally, Bond sets off to Jamaica for a showdown with Mr Big at his lair on the Isle of Surprise.
Once again CIA agent Felix Leiter is on hand to help Bond out. While in New York he takes Bond out on an unforgettable tour of the jazz clubs of Harlem.
Simone Latrell is better known as Solitaire. Originally from Haiti, Solitaire is not only among “the most beautiful women Bond had ever seen”. She is also telepathic.
The Secret Service’s most senior agent in the Caribbean lives in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains above Kingston. He assists Bond with equipment and introduces Bond to Quarrel.
A Cayman Islander, Quarrel assists Bond in Jamaica and helps get him back into shape before his ordeal on the Isle of Surprise.
Buonaparte Ignace Gallia is commonly known simply as Mr Big. He is tall with a large, bald head and grey-black skin that is “taut and shining like the face of a week-old corpse in the river”. Head of the Black Widow Voodoo cult, Mr Big is “probably the most powerful negro criminal in the world”. Cult followers believe he is the zombie of Baron Samedi. If that wasn’t enough he also works for SMERSH.
Bond drives his Bentley to the office for an early morning meeting with M. Fleming describes it as “the 1933 4 ½-litre with the Amherst-Villiers supercharger”.
After exhausting his supply of Morlands, Bond switches to King Size Chesterfields.
After being Americanised by the FBI most of Bond’s belongings are forwarded to Jamaica. However, he keeps his Beretta .25 with the skeleton grip and chamois leather shoulder-holster. Later he carries it under his wetsuit when he dives to the Isle of Surprise.
Bond’s battered Ronson is replaced by a plain Zippo lighter.
The FBI provide a light-weight Hartmann ‘Skymate’ suitcase. The company was founded in 1877 and continues to produce luxury suitcases today.
Bond wears a tie-clip from Swank. The company has been in existence since 1897 and continues to provide men’s jewellery, belts and leather accessories.
He is supplied with an alligator-skin billfold from Mark Cross, a company founded in 1845.
Fleming mentions Rolex for the first time. Although he dives with it there is no suggestion it is a Submariner, as worn in the early films.
Champion harpoon gun
Bond asks Strangways for the Admiralty to send various equipment, including a couple of harpoons gun supplied by French manufacturer Champion.
He also asks for a commando dagger. When it arrives Fleming notes “it is of the type devised by Wilkinsons during the war”. This is the Fairbairn–Sykes fighting knife, also referred to as the British Commando knife.
To go with a huge lunch with Captain Dexter of the FBI and his CIA contact Felix Leiter, Bond drinks what Leiter tells him is “as good a Liebfraumilch as you can get in America”.
On the Silver Phantom from New York to St Petersburg Bond orders chicken sandwiches for himself and Solitaire accompanied by Old Fashioneds made with Old Grandad bourbon.
Bond also orders Sanka Coffee for them. He orders this popular brand of decaffeinated instant so they can sleep on the train.
Blue Mountain coffee
For his first breakfast after arriving in Jamaica, Bond drinks Blue Mountain Coffee on the veranda of John Strangway’s house. Blue Mountain coffee is a protected certification mark and coffees bearing this mark are among the most expensive in the world.
Food and drink
Live And Let Die features many meals. In the first chapter Bond is served lunch in New York with Captain Dexter of the FBI and Felix Leiter. But before they start eating Leiter mixes them a martini.
The meal starts with soft-shell crabs with tartare sauce. This is followed by medium rare hamburgers with French fries and broccoli accompanied by a mixed salad and thousand island dressing. Finally they have ice cream with melted butterscotch. They wash that down with Liebfraumilch and before getting down to business finish off with coffee.
Bond’s next meal is on a night out in Harlem. Leiter takes Bond to various jazz clubs, but they stop at Ma Frazier’s for a meal of Little Neck Clams and Fried Chicken Maryland with bacon and sweet corn.
Prior to leaving New York aboard the Silver Phantom, Bond orders breakfast in his room. Very thoroughly it consists of a double pineapple juice, cornflakes and cream, shirred eggs with bacon, a double espresso and toast and marmalade.
On board the train with Solitaire he orders them chicken sandwiches for lunch. The sandwiches are accompanied by Old Fashioneds and Sanka coffee. Prior to dinner Bond orders dry martinis but when they arrive pre-mixed in small bottles he immediately orders four more. But for dinner nothing on the menu appeals. Instead James Bond orders scrambled eggs with bacon and sausages, a salad and domestic Camembert.
After slipping of the train at Jacksonville at five in the morning, Bond and Solitaire go to an all-night diner where Bond orders them scrambled eggs with orange juice, coffee. After grumbling about American eggs and coffee Bond concedes “they can’t do much harm to the orange juice. After all we are in Florida”. When Solitaire tells him St Petersburg is “the Great American Graveyard”, he tells her it “Sounds pretty”grim, “rather like Bournemouth or Torquay. But a million times worse.”
The next meal shared with the reader occurs as Bond dines with Leiter after Solitaire has disappeared. Already considered bad news by the staff and fellow residents of their motel, they are “shown to a bad table near the service door. The set dinner was a string of inflated English and pidgin French”. They have tomato juice, boiled fish with white sauce, frozen turkey with cranberry and lemon curd with cream substitute. Afterwards Leiter invites Bond to get drunk.
After Leiter has been thrown to the sharks Bond needs something more substantial. Checking out of the motel, much to the owners delight, he orders a big rare steak with French fries, a pint of Old Grandad and two cups strong coffee.
Following his night investigating the warehouse of Ourobouros Inc where he encounters the Robber, Bond awakes at midday. Now installed in a new motel he finds somewhere close by for breakfast and orders a three-decker western sandwich and coffee. Later, on the plane to Jamaica via Nassau he has a cocktail and early dinner. Fleming specifies neither.
He enjoys his breakfast the next day though. Sitting on the veranda of John Strangway’s house in the Blue Mountains, Bond is served paw-paw with a slice of green lime, red bananas, purple star apples, tangerines as well as scrambled eggs and bacon. He also has “almost black” Jamaican marmalade and guava jelly. To go with that lot he drinks Blue Mountain coffee.
Later Bond and Quarrel stay at a house in Manatee Bay (in reality Negril beach). The Cayman Islander cooks a dish of fish, eggs and vegetables, which Fleming tells us will be their staple diet for the next few days. In passing Fleming mentions dinner on the final day before Bond and Quarrel relocate to Beau Desert, a plantation property on the bay of the Isle of Surprise. He also skips details of what Quarrel cooks on a primus stove so “no smoke would betray them”. Presumably more of the same.
Bond’s final meal of Live And Let Die is during the “passionate leave” granted by M. Quarrel seems to be quite a cook, as he prepares a meal of black crabs, suckling pig and avocado pear salad followed by guavas and coconut cream. And Strangways left a case of the best champagne in Jamaica.
Now that’s the way to end an assignment.
Read more about James Bond’s food and drink.
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Article originally posted on The James Bond Dossier:
Live And Let Die
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