Book: Goldfinger

"Goldfinger"

Auric Goldfinger: cruel, clever, frustratingly careful. A cheat at canasta and a crook on a massive scale. The sort of man James Bond hates. So it’s fortunate that Bond is the man charged by both the Bank of England and MI5 to discover what this, the richest man in the country, intends to do with his ill-gotten gains–and what his connection is with SMERSH, the feared Soviet spy-killing corps. But once inside this deadly criminal’s organization, 007 finds that Goldfinger’s schemes are more grandiose–and lethal–than anyone could have imagined. Not only is robbing Fort Knox his agenda, but mass murder as well…

Goldfinger was a fun read, even if it’s not as action-packed as today’s action thriller novels. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, except for the fact that many of the tight corners our hero finds his self in, sorts themselves out without much sweat from our hero. Well, a lot of sweat, not so much effort.

In fact, I see Goldfinger as the more developed character in this book. As the one who actually does things. James Bond kind of just skates through it all, doesn’t he?

Granted, my only exposure to James Bond comes from the Daniel Craig movies. I’ve seen parts of the Pierce Brosnan movies, but they never really intrigued me enough that I would actively seek out a title. Too much high-tech gadgets, not so much characterization. The Daniel Craig era puts more focus on us getting to know James Bond. And, coming off from reading this book, I’m appreciating the Daniel Craig movies more. It has a more realistic approach to the whole spy business, for one thing.

And that’s my main concern with Goldfinger. Lack of believability. Our villain Goldfinger sets himself up to be a very suspicious man, on the account that he is a very rich man. And while I could suspend my disbelief that he didn’t do a background check on Bond in their first two entanglements, I refuse to believe that he doesn’t think about asking his SMERSH contacts about him after the third incident. Especially since, in the last part of the book, he eventually does approach SMERSH about Bond.

The delay wasn’t so much because Goldfinger was highly independent from his SMERSH contacts, or because he was embarrassed about being beaten at his own game. It really was just because the author didn’t want Goldfinger to know about Bond before he could get around to the big evil plan: robbing Fort Knox.

Another thing I could wrap my head around was how Goldfinger thought he could use Bond to his own gain. Why would you trust someone who tried to kill you, but wouldn’t tell you why? Seriously?

I’m going to cut myself off there. Let’s just say that Goldfinger is a fun read–so long as you don’t give much thought to it afterwards. Enjoy it for the light read that it is, but don’t think too much about the intricacies of the plots, and the deception, etcetera. It really doesn’t hold up, especially if you’re into action thrillers.

It is true that authors now are more aware of smart readers. I don’t think Goldfinger would exist in this form had it been pitched with today’s market of readers in mind. I mean, sure, the plot is still interesting, and it will still hold up against today’s more technologically-advanced criminal plots. But Bond’s part in the novel would have to be rewritten. He’d have to be smarter and more resourceful than he was in this novel. He’d have to rely less on his luck and gadgets. And it would be a different book.

All that said, I really did enjoy the book for what it was. It’s just that–the book really doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. I must say though, I am now looking for a copy of the Goldfinger film to see how the novel holds up to its film version.

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