After writing three James Bond novels, Ian Fleming was growing weary of his hero.  Writing to his friend, American thriller writer Raymond Chandler, Fleming confided, ‘My own muse is in a bad way… it has been very difficult to make Bond go through his tricks in From Russia with Love’.  The novel sees Bond pitted against SMERSH, the Soviet counterintelligence agency, who plan not only to kill Bond but to discredit the entire British secret service by framing him in a major sex scandal.  The novel includes excellently drawn villains and ends on a cliff-hanger, leaving readers anxious about the fate of their hero; no doubt a ploy which would allow Fleming to end the series if his muse failed to return.  In 1961 From Russia with Love was named as one of US President John F. Kennedy’s ten favourite books in Life magazine, encouraging American sales of the series to soar and proving that Fleming’s decision to extend the life of his hero was the right one.

Publicity shot of Ian Fleming

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