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Young Bond author Charlie Higson ranks his top-10 Bond books

14-Jul-2009 • Young Bond

Amazon.com invites authors to take part in a massive, online ranking exercise. Just as fans can make lists and collections online, Charlie Higson has submitted his James Bond top-ten.

Higson is the author of the five Young James Bond adventures, the most recent, By Royal Command, released last year. As well as his contributions to the Bond cannon, Charlie Higson is an acclaimed screenwriter and one of the comic minds behind "The Fast Show".

Here is his 007 top ten and comments on each:

1. From Russia With Love
The extraordinary thing about Fleming is just how readable his books still are today. He puts most other thriller writers to shame. This was the first Bond novel I ever read. And by chance I happened to start with the best written of them. Fleming put everything he had into this, fully expecting it to be his last Bond effort. In fact it turned out to be the book that finally catapulted Bond into the stratosphere.

2. Casino Royale
The first ever appearance of Bond, and for that it’s a fascinating read. A very simple direct book that has all the Bond elements already in place. Great villain, the best torture scene ever and a great Bond girl who makes a sterling effort to restore Bond’s battered manhood.

3. Moonraker
Almost reads like a detective thriller. Worth it for the fantastically well-described car chase through Kent. Fleming was still finding his way with Bond at this stage and the book is interesting for that.

4. Goldfinger
What a villain – and what a henchman. The two of them make this book superbly readable. It even makes golf exciting – and I hate golf.

5. Dr No
Fleming's descriptions of Jamaica and the Caribbean are beautifully vivid. And Dr No’s lair is seductively weird. Plus, of course, Honeychile Rider (grandmother of Alex Rider?) in half a bikini.

6. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Bond falls properly in love – with disastrous consequences. Fleming’s two great passions were the Caribbean and the Alps. The skiing scenes in this are a master class in descriptive writing and the ending is oddly moving.

7. For Your Eyes Only
A collection of short stories. Funnily enough, even though some of these are based on ideas for a non-Bond TV action series, they nevertheless tell us more about Bond than most of the novels. These are interesting little vignettes of his life with nice little insights (such as where and when he lost his virginity).

8. James Bond: The Man and His World - The Official Companion to Ian Fleming's Creation by Henry Chancellor

9. For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond by Ben McIntyre
For anyone wanting to know more about Fleming and the creation of the Bond books these two are hugely interesting and very accessible. Chancellor concentrates on the books, with great archive material from Fleming’s own archives. McIntyre (whose book accompanies the current exhibition at the Imperial War Museum) is about the relationship between Fleming and his creation, with some great photographs.

10. Devil May Care
Faulk’s loving homage to Fleming is a great read, huge fun with some sly winks to recent history. That a writer of Faulks’ stature should write this book is a testament to just how important – and good – a writer Fleming was. What a dull world it would be without Bond.

Click here for Charlie Higson's "Author's Choice" at Amazon.com.

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