Quantum of Solace/For Your Eyes Only


Quantum of Solace
by Ian Fleming
narrated by Simon Vance
Ⓟ 2008, Blackstone Audio, Inc.

The first five stories = 5.60 out of 9.30 hours
  • “From a View to a Kill”
  • “For Your Eyes Only”
  • “Quantum of Solace”
  • “Riscio”
  • “The Hildebrand Rarity”

After having shared seven adventures with 007 in previous novels, you become somewhat inured to Fleming’s political incorrectness and you start appreciating the other elements of his writing: the way he can create tension and surprise you; the way he shapes Bond’s interior dialogue; the attention to detail beyond the travelogue descriptions – and in the end you begin to like Bond again, even after the misogynistic fiasco that was Goldfinger. It’s not that Bond has changed much. He’s still thinks and says things that place him squarely in the ranks of the mid-century man; but in this collection, we sense that perhaps his views, however much they are shaped by his times, are not concretized – that Bond has the capacity to turn things over in his mind and realize that all may not be as they appear. This idea of deception becomes the theme of the collection (or at least the first five stories):

“From a View to a Kill”
This is the first story in the collection and treats the idea of deception in the most basic and physical of ways. A dispatch courier is ambushed along an isolated highway by another courier wearing the same uniform. Bond, with his ability to sense “the invisible factor” or “the invisible man” – the element of a mission’s mystery that had been overlooked by others but turns out to be the key to the mission’s success, dresses in two different disguises to figure out what’s going on. First, Bond dresses in camo and uncovers a well concealed camp; and later Bond dresses as a dispatch courier himself to lure the would-be perpetrator out.
“For Your Eyes Only”
Set against the changing political climate of the Caribbean as Castro moves against Batista, the story looks at political subterfuge in the grossest criminal way: One of Castro’s henchmen, Major Gonzales, goes around Jamaica coercing plantation owners to sell their properties. A political exile, his business transactions are actually incidents of bullying and extortion with violent implications. Major Gonzales and his two sidekicks eventually end up in Vermont (!?) Bond assumes the identity of a game hunter, special attention paid to his clothing and licenses to complete this mission of justice (or revenge depending on one’s point of view) and encounters a woman along the way with a similar mission.
“Quantum of Solace”
The eponymous story of the collection, this is the piece that plays as an exposition of social and personal deception in two layers. It is actually a story within a story: Bond attends a rather dull dinner party and afterwards needs to kill about a hour with his host before he can politely leave. An off-chance remark of Bond’s initiates a story, as told by the host, about a man who marries an air hostess. The air hostess-wife eventually becomes involved in an indiscreet affair. Her true colors having flown, the first surprise is in what the husband then proceeds to do! The social charades and the personal face the husband tries to maintain play out against the rarefied air of the Service’s cliques in Bermuda. The story, which has engaged Bond beyond the hour that decorum had dictated, has a final surprise and teaches Bond a lesson about not making judgements from first impressions.
“Riscio”
The term “riscio” means risky business and ostensibly refers to the smuggling world into which Bond finds himself. Sent to Italy to track down illegal opium shipments, Bond is set up with a contact, Kristatos at a restaurant. The apparent quarry is Alberto “The Dove” Colombo, not only the restaurant’s owner, but a major player in contraband shipments. The story evolves out into a question of who to trust: Who are your allies and, who are your enemies?
“The Hildebrand Rarity”
This short, more than even “Quantum of Solace” displays more of Bonds interior dimension than the others. Though not has clever as “QOS,” even rather ham-handed in its way, “The Hildebrand Rarity” has Bond thinking about relative morality. Mr. Krest, a wealthy American man who uses his pleasure yacht to collect specimens for the Smithsonian (a tax evasion scheme) hires Bond and Fidele Barbery to track down a rare fish, “The Hildebrand Rarity” in the Caribbean. There is nothing to like about Mr. Krest: He is a mean boor, a sadist, a corrupt businessman, a drunk and overall unscrupulous. And yet, Bond puts up with quite a bit, “eating crow” for four days. Bond equivocates, is uncertain about what to do, questions his smaller actions against larger contexts. What does he really see? What does he really know? What is the right thing to do? In this story, Bond himself might not be the man we have been led to believe he is.


Perhaps “deception” is too broad a theme for spy thriller adventures – after all, espionage is built on subterfuge; and yet with this collection, one can’t help but notice the different kinds of deceits being played out very specifically in each story: From the basic physical deceptions of “From a View to a Kill” to the questioning ruminations of Bond in “The Hildebrand Rarity,” Fleming skillfully writes in layers about the various kinds of deceptions.
Simon Vance narrates the audiobook edition of Quantum of Solace. Inasmuch as readers and listeners may have become inured to Fleming’s provocative passages about social issues through seven novels, listeners have come to expect certain things from Simon Vance in the series as well. He narrates the stories, and wholly creates Bond and M. Though his American and female characters are usually suspect, SV delivered credibly and well in this collection. Mr. Krest (“The Hildebrand Rarity”) speaks like Humphrey Bogart and SV does an imitation well enough that the listener understands the vocal inference. Other foreigners (Italians, Jamaicans, etc.) are differentiated from Bond’s British accent and while they may not exactly sound native, the characters are well delineated.

See Also:

The first five stories in Quantum of Solace are contained in the audiobook, For Your Eyes Only. The next two featured films in the Shaken, Not Stirred… Challenge are Quantum of Solace (starring Daniel Craig) and; For Your Eyes Only (Starring Roger Moore.) Both movies are based on these first five shorts in the collection. For a complete breakdown of the short stories featured in Quantum of Solace and their related movies, see FYI: Quantum of Solace. For a look at my brain while it is watching NFL playoffs and trying to figure out what Bond novels go with which movies, check out Old Skool “Infographic”: Bond Novels 08 – 14 🙂
For a breakdown of the tracks on the Quantum of Solace MP3-CD, see Quantum of Solace: MP3-CD Track List.
For other Shaken, Not Stirred posts, see:
Casino Royale (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Simon Vance)
Goldfinger (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Simon Vance)



Other Stuff: Quantum of Solace (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Simon Vance) is a part of the

I received a MP3-CD edition of Quantum of Solace (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Simon Vance) from Blackstone Audio, Inc. under professional courtesy/reviewer auspices.. I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.



FYI: Quantum of Solace


Quantum of Solace: The Complete James Bond Short Stories (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Simon Vance) contains nine “shorts”:
  • From a View to a Kill
  • For Your Eyes Only
  • Quantum of Solace
  • Riscion
  • The Hildebrand Rarity
  • Octopussy
  • The Property of a Lady
  • The Living Daylights
  • 007 in New York

The first five of these shorts are contained in the audiobook, For Your Eyes Only (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Simon Vance). The next two featured films in the Shaken, Not Stirred: A Simon Vance Audio Book Challenge Featuring James Bond, are Quantum of Solace (starring Daniel Craig) – viewing party on 02/25/2012 and; For Your Eyes Only (starring Roger Moore) – viewing party on 03/24/2012. Both movies are based on these five shorts:
  • From a View to a Kill
  • For Your Eyes Only
  • Quantum of Solace
  • Riscion
  • The Hildebrand Rarity
The movie, Octopussy (starring Roger Moore), which will be the subject of the Shaken, Not Stirred viewing party on 09/22/2012 is based on the next three shorts and are contained in the audiobook, Octopussy and The Living Daylights (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Simon Vance):
  • Octopussy
  • The Property of a Lady
  • The Living Daylights
The short story, 007 in New York (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Simon Vance) is unique to Quantum of Solace: The Complete James Bond Short Stories (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Simon Vance).
All of the stories that are in the audiobooks, For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy and The Living Daylights are in Quantum of Solace: The Complete James Bond Short Stories; but only the the complete short story collection contains 007 in New York.

Hercule Poirot Mysteries (1-4): Mini-Op-Ed Reviews


The Mysterious Affair at Styles
First title in the Hercule Poirot Mystery series
by Agatha Christie
narrated by Nadia May
6.1 hours

I liked the book, but I made a serious mistake when I first approached it: I underestimated Agatha Christie. The last time I read Agatha Christie was in high school (The ABC Murders and Murder on the Orient Express) and now I had thought her dated and perhaps even less-than- sophisticated! I was struck by the density of the cast list, the plot, the motives and the subterfuges. I anticipate returning to this book again and being able to appreciate it more with each re-reading or re-telling.

As much as I love Nadia May, she was miscast for this book. The narrator is a 45 year-old male Captain coming in from the Front. Despite Nadia May’s versatility, there was no way to ignore that she wasn’t a 45 year-old male Captain coming in from the Front! There is a scene early on wherein Captain Hastings looks out the window to see Lawrence Cavendish walking with Cynthia Murdoch. In my mind’s eye, I saw Miss Marple peering out the window! Later, as Captain Hastings expresses his crush on Mary Cavendish or even later, proposes to Cynthia Murdoch, it took me aback.

Other Stuff: I borrowed a library CD edition of this audiobook from Blackstone Audio, Inc.



Murder on the Links
Second title in the Hercule Poirot Mystery series
by Agatha Christie

Murder on the Links (second in the Hercule Poirot mystery series by Agatha Christie) – I’m not much for cozies in general, but I do like Agatha Christie and, the earlier Hercule Poirot novels are very nicely crafted. In this story, an Englishman living in France summons Poirot to Merlinville-sur-Mer in France. The Englishman, Paul Renaud, believes his life to life to be endangered. Poirot arrives in all due haste; but it is too late. Renaud’s body is discovered on a golf course…. Silly me, I was half afraid that the book was going to contain arcane golfing terminology and I was going to have to ask DH about mashies and niblicks and such, but rest assured, there was nothing about golf in the story 🙂

Other Stuff: I borrowed a copy of this book from The Jackson County Library System (Southern Oregon) in Medford, OR.




Poirot Investigates: Eleven Complete Mysteries
Third title in the Hercule Poirot Mystery series
by Agatha Christie
narrated by David Suchet
5.75 hours

Individually, I can’t say much for the mysteries themselves. There wasn’t enough information given in any of the stories to help the listener solve any of the whodunnits; but overall the stories provide nice background color for the characters of Poirot and Hastings. David Suchet, the actor who played Hercule Poirot in the BBC series, narrates. As to be expected, he was great at portraying Poirot and very good at the other male characters; but his women and Americans were truly awful.

Other stuff: I borrowed a CD copy of this audiobook from the Jackson County Library System (Southern Oregon.)



The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Fourth in the Hercule Poirot Mystery series

by Agatha Christie
narrated by Robin Bailey
AudioGo
7.01 hours

Hastings has unapologetically disappeared from the the series! Poirot has retired to the countryside to garden; but the death of a local woman sets off a domino cascade of intrigue. We’re not counting teacups (cf The Mysterious Affair at Styles); but we are to
keep watch on the time! Robin Bailey is spot on as the village doctor from whose point of view the story is told.

Other stuff: I borrowed a CD copy of this audiobook from the Jackson County Library System (Southern Oregon)




This post is part of the Murder, Monsters, Mayhem feature being hosted by Jennifer L. at http://www.jennsbookshelves.com












Zero Tolerance



“Zero Tolerance”
by Jonathan Maberry
narrated by Ray Porter
Blackstone Audio, Inc.

.75 hours

What the hell did Sergeant Harper do? Pay Attention! Because what starts out to be another cinematically driven action-adventure episode in the Patient Zero canon, turns into something much subtler, only hinted at at the end of the full length novel. This elegantly constructed short story will have you drawing a sharp intake of breath as you realize what Maberry has done: taken the moral ambiguity from Patient Zero to a whole new level. “Zero Tolerance” is described as a sequel to the full length novel, a tying-up of loose ends; but that’s arguable. Patient Zero ended and you could go on without feeling like you’ve missed anything if you didn’t listen to this short; but don’t. This is Maberry at his finest: concentrated in form and function.

Ray Porter is the narrator of the Patient Zero series and no one could do it better. Whether it’s a whispered caress in the ear or the all out assault on a target, Ray Porter delivers the ful range of the characters’, and the story’s, voice.

Other Stuff: I borrowed a MP3-CD copy of Joe Ledger: The Missing Files from Blackstone Audio, Inc. There are five short stories in the collection: “Countdown” (precursor to the full-length novel, Patient Zero), “Zero Tolerance” (follow-up to Patient Zero), “Deep Dark”(prequel to the full-length novel, The Dragon Factory), “Dog Days”(follow-up to The Dragon Factory) and “Material Witness” (a crossover to The Pine Deep Trilogy.) I split up the mp3 files on the CD into the five groupings that made up each story; but each story is available separately as a digital dnload.
This post is part of the Murder, Monsters, Mayhem feature being hosted by Jennifer L. at http://www.jennsbookshelves.com

This book also qualifies for the What’s in Name? Challenge #4 hosted at BethFishreads.Patient Zero is an audiobook with a [number] in the title, “Zero.”

This book also qualifies for the Where Are You Reading? Challenge hosted by Sheila at her blog, Book Journey. Patient Zero is has scenes in Baltimore, Maryland.
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Countdown


“Countdown”

by Jonathan Maberry
narrated by Ray Porter
Blackstone Audio, Inc.
digital dnload
20 minutes

Meet Joe Ledger. Army Ranger vet. Tough Baltimore cop. Now a member of a joint task force heading in on a warehouse raid. Lots of guns, bullets, and a body in a big blue box… “Countdown” is a short story that introduces the listener to an action adventure hero in the making and, whets the appetite for more. What happens next? Who is Mr. Church? What’s with the tinted glasses inside? The Vanilla Wafers? Is Mr. Church a good thing? A bad thing? An X-Files thing? The answers to all this and more await in the first full-length novel in the Joe Ledger trilogy, Patient Zero.

Ray Porter renders the character of Joe Ledger with natural ease. Jonathan Maberry, while generous with the mil-fic elements, also fleshes out the protagonist with an interior life beyond the jarhead mentality you might expect. Joe Ledger is smart, funny and most importantly, human. Ray Porter, in his turn, is Joe Ledger, inhabiting the character so completely that there is no disjunct between the writing and the narration.


Other Stuff: I borrowed a MP3-CD copy of Joe Ledger: The Missing Files from Blackstone Audio, Inc. There are five short stories in the collection: “Countdown” (precursor to the full-length novel, Patient Zero), “Zero Tolerance” (follow-up to Patient Zero), “Deep Dark” (prequel to the full-length novel, The Dragon Factory), “Dog Days” (follow-up to The Dragon Factory) and “Material Witness” (a crossover to The Pine Deep Trilogy.) I split up the mp3 files on the CD into the five groupings that made up each story; but each story is available separately as a digital dnload as well as on this short story collection.
This post is part of the Murder, Monsters, Mayhem feature being hosted by Jennifer L. at http://www.jennsbookshelves.com


This book also qualifies for the Where Are You Reading? Challenge hosted by Sheila at her blog, Book Journey. “Countdown” is set Baltimore, Maryland.
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Audiobook Review: 3:10 to Yuma


“3:10 to Yuma”
By Elmore Leonard
Narrated by Henry Rollins
Harper Audio
33 minutes
WESTERN

There are short stories, novellas, full novels, and epic tomes that, regardless of length, spark the imagination and become something greater then themselves through the people who interpret them. The interpreters can be like the daydreaming boys who imagines themselves in the dusty, high-noon drama and clear-cut morality of a time when the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black hats; or the interpreters could be like the screenwriters who see the written work as the foundation for great visual mediums; or the interpreters could even be someone like me, who’s not well versed in Westerns but was intrigued by the iconic stature of the work and open to experiencing a moment in another time and place. “3:10″ to Yuma” is a short story written by Elmore Leonard, the same writer who wrote the fun crime fictions Get Shorty and Out of Sight. “3:10 to Yuma” is about a deputy, Dan Evans, from Bisbee, AZ, who is responsible for transporting a convicted felon, Ben Wade, to prison. He just needs to get his charge from the hotel to the train. That’s it; but that’s enough. In a half hour, Elmore Leonard draws strong imagery and characterizations without a wasted word anywhere. The scene is set primarily in a hotel room where the two principals wait for the train. The room is full of tension, of possibilities, of the certainties that each of the men carries, even knowing that in the end, only one will prevail. Their personalities are drawn out by their words and actions, both of which are sometimes small and subtle and, other times heart stoppingly dramatic.
 

The story is narrated by Henry Rollins, a respected spoken word performer and actor. But I’ve only really ever known him as the lead singer to a hard-core punk band in the 1980s (Black Flag) that I loved and so I wasn’t sure what to expect. He was a little fast off the start to the story; but overall he delivered a fine performance, clear and sympathetic to the text. Thankfully, he did not drop into any sort of Western drawl OR scream out in anarchistic angst, instead speaking in a voice that sounds remarkably smooth and young; but with just enough of an edge or roughness to make it perfect.

 

3:10 to Yuma
Directed by Delmar Daves
Starring Glenn Ford (as Ben Wade) and Van Hefin as Dan Evans)
Columbia Pictures (1957)
Sony Home Entertainment (2007)
 
This film adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s short story is roughly an hour and a half long, so you know that quite a bit had to have been added to the original story and there was, most notably back story and women. The back story involves providing the motivation for the deputy for doing his job, as well as action sequences that get all the players into place for the big scene at the hotel and railroad station. It’s all good, nothing that violates the spirit of the original story; but it must be noted that by expanding the original story, they’ve created a new mythos surrounding “3:10 to Yuma.” Now the chemistry between the two men is emphasized as opposed to the push-pull dynamic of the original short and audience members are given reason to expect that either of the two could change.


3:10 to Yuma
Directed by James Mangold
Starring Russell Crowe (as Ben Wade) and Christian Bale as Dan Evans)
Lionsgate and, Tree Line Films
 

It would be more fair to say that the 2007 film adaptation was based on the 1957 version rather than the original short story. That said, even though many elements of the 1957 movie were preserved, the differences are manifest and significant. The whole of the story has been embroidered with more historical context to include, but certainly not limited to, Pinkerton men, Apache Native Americans, Chinese workers, railroad expansion and, Civil War histories to the characters. The story as played out in the crucible of the hotel room has been moved across more varied terrain, allowing shared experience to forge a bond between the two men. The emphases is clearly centered on a sense of realism rather than the abstracted setting in the short story or the Hollywood set of the 1957 film. But most importantly, the nature of the relationship between the two men has changed into a much more personal one than the previous iterations would suggest, a relationship wherein at least one of them changes rather dramatically.

 

Other Stuff: I picked this audio because I wanted a story set in Arizona for the Where You Reading? Challenge. I had recalled seeing “3:10 to Yuma” in a local Barnes & Noble and thought the title would be perfect. It wasn’t until I dnloaded the title from audible.com that I realized it was a short story; but I’m running with it anyway because in this case, size doesn’t matter. This title also qualifies for BethFishRead’s challenge,What’s in a Name Challenge #4, in the “number” category (read a book with a number in the title.) I also wanted to move a little out of my comfort zone and listen to a Western. I rented both movies from Netflix (www.netflix.com)


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