3.75 / 5
A very readable and smoothly written Bond adventure.
James Bond is back again; this time he is given the task of uncovering any wrongdoings or possible plans to sabotage the most important project in Britain that has a ringing endorsement from the Prime Minister, the Moonraker. He arrives in Kent to replace a murdered Ministry of Supply security officer working on the project of the Moonraker. Bond has to use the competent Gala Brand to figure out what is going on and the role that the egomaniac Sir Hugo Drax has in it.
There is little resemblance in the film to the original storyline penned by Fleming; the only constants in both are Bond (duh!) and Hugo Drax. In all honesty I enjoyed both the novel and film as they both offered something different but they were both ultimately typical Bond adventures, (the novel edged it for me though). The one character that was missing from the novel version of Moonraker, but was pivotal and famous in the film version was Jaws. And personally Jaws was one of my favourite characters not only in the Moonraker film but in the franchise as a whole.
The story is structured in an easy to follow and smooth way that is typical of Fleming’s novels, but especially in Moonraker as it split in three parts; Part One– Monday, Part Two– Tuesday, Wednesday and Part Three– Thursday, Friday.
On Monday, M asks Bond to accompany him to the famous and elitist Blades club, as he has an inkling that the brash businessman Hugo Drax is cheating at bridge. Hugo Drax, is a mulit-millionaire visionary who is in charge of the construction of the Moonraker, which is seen as the most important project and a vital defense mechanism in Britain, and he has the support of the public, media and politicians including the Prime Minister. Bond is tasked to uncover how and also why he cheats at cards when he is already vastly rich and is a nationally important figure.
In Part Two, circumstances have unfolded that sees Bond to be positioned at the Moonraker construction site to investigate the unknown matters that caused Fallon, the Ministry of Supply security officer, to be suspicious of the Moonraker operation. Here we are introduced to Hugo Drax some more, two Germans Krebs and Walter who are part of the Moonraker project in different capacities, and finally Gala Brand, the Special Branch undercover agent working as Drax’s Personal Assistant. Part Two is the scene where Bond begins his investigation to uncover any wrongdoings concerning the hugely important project.
Part Three was characteristic of a Bond novel; car chase, Bond up against insurmountable odds, the villain’s plan being uncovered and of course Bond saving the day (not much of a spoiler!). The personal and work relationship comes to the fore a lot more in these chapters, and Gala Brand becomes a character that the reader can like due her being a decent companion of Bond. She actually came up with the master plan to save the day and stay alive (I’m not saying any more!). I felt the scene on the beach beneath the white cliffs of Dover in particular, confirms her as a central character with Bond clearly smitten with her. In the last chapter of the book Gala proves that James Bond is just a mere mortal like the rest of us…
This is the third James Bond novel that I have read as part of the Vintage Collection that I have bought, and it was by far the most easily readable due to its simple structure and the natural flow of events. However, in comparison to Casino Royale, there is a limited amount of action sequences that grip you mainly due to the tense and tortuous card game at Blades. Moonraker touches on themes that were circulating in Britain in the 1950’s, the threat of rocket missiles from overseas and the still present danger of Nazism. Fleming has conjured an absorbing story filled with an intriguing card game, a suspenseful car chase and an ending that would have had a more telling impact upon its release than nowadays. I will definitely continue my way through the Bond novels as they are easy to read, action packed and terribly addictive. (Next stop, Diamonds are Forever!)