For obscure reasons (long story, you don't care, trust me) I've decided to undertake a new reading project: Ian Fleming's James Bond novels. I read a number of them back in my youth. Things were complicated, however, when Mom glanced through the beginning of The Spy Who Loved Me, and forbade further excursions into the 007 oeuvre.
I was sneaky though, sorry Mom. Although I never did read The Spy Who Loved Me.
Anyway, started with book one, 1953's Casino Royale. Bond is tasked with taking down a Soviet Communist stooge, Le Chiffre, by beating him soundly at the high-stakes baccarat table in a fancy French gambling resort. In this he's assisted by the beautiful Vesper Lynd, French agent René Mathis, and the CIA's Felix Leiter. Once Bond is in place, he's told his room has been bugged, and a couple of bungling hit men try to kill him. Jimmy, I think your cover is blown.
He makes it to the table, there's a lot of gambling drama, but that's over by page 83 of this 178-page edition. Then there's some really gruesome violence, over by page 120 or so. Then there's physical recovery (up to page 145), Bond decides to give up spying, then follows a love story with a tragic ending winding things up.
The book is weirdly paced, is what I'm trying to say. And it very much shows its age; at one point Bond muses about the "sweet tang of rape". That wouldn't pass muster these days, Ian.
This is (more or less) 007's origin story, setting up the series as his revenge against the Soviets who did him very wrong here. And the very last line is one of the more brutal book endings I've read.