From Russia, With Love
is a 1957 spy thriller by British novelist Ian Fleming. It follows British secret agent Commander James Bond as he foils an attempt by the Russian agency SMERSH to embroil him in a sex scandal and murder him. From Russia, With Love
is the fifth novel in Fleming’s Bond
series, which comprises twelve novels and two short-story collections. Bond also features in authorized novels by twelve other writers, as well as twenty-six movies and a comic strip.
The novel opens as senior members of SMERSH, a secret Soviet agency, discuss how they can redeem themselves in the eyes of the Soviet government, having been responsible for a series of high profile failures. Their plan is to pull off an attention-grabbing assassination that will discredit a foreign intelligence agency. They select Bond as the target for this assassination. Due to his role in foiling several previous Soviet operations, Bond has been declared an enemy of the state. A death warrant calls for him “to be killed with ignominy.”
SMERSH’s chief planner, Colonel Kronsteen, and Colonel Rosa Klebb devise a plan to entrap Bond. A beautiful young cipher clerk based in Istanbul, Corporal Tatiana Romanova
, will pretend to defect to the British. She will claim to have fallen in love with Bond, having come across his photograph in a secret file. She will offer the British Secret Service a Spektor decoder—something SMERSH knows the British will not be able to resist, even if they doubt Tatiana’s motives. Once Bond has met with Tatiana, SMERSH will assassinate him, disseminating false evidence that he was collaborating, through Tatiana, with the Russians.
Tatiana is not told the details of the plan. She contacts British intelligence, offering to defect, with the Spektor, but only if Bond comes to Istanbul to collect her. Wary of these conditions, the British are unable to resist the Spektor, and Bond is dispatched.
His contact in Istanbul is Darko Kerim, the head of the British substation in the city. As the two men wander around the city, creating opportunities for Tatiana to approach them without leaving themselves vulnerable to ambush, they become firm friends. While Bond and Kerim are visiting a friend of Kerim’s, members of a local gang attack them. Kerim explains that this gang is working for the Russians and has made several attempts on his life. They decide to take out the gang’s leader, and Bond helps Kerim execute him.
That night, when Bond returns to his hotel, Tatiana is waiting in his bed. Bond wants to take Tatiana (and the Spektor) to Britain by plane, but Tatiana insists that they take the Orient Express. Charmed by Tatiana, Bond agrees, talking Kerim into accompanying them.
On the train, Kerim recognizes three Russian agents. He bribes officials to have two of the men taken off the train, but he is still nervous. He suggests that they get off the train and fly to London instead, but Bond, smitten with Tatiana, refuses.
The next day Kerim is found dead, alongside the body of the third Russian agent. Bond thinks that with this agent dead, the danger is past, and he decides to stay on the train. He is approached by an MI6 agent, Captain Nash, who offers to share the duty of escorting Tatiana. Bond invites him to stay with him and Tatiana in their stateroom.
The next morning, Nash reveals that he is really SMERSH’s executioner, Red Grant. Rather than shoot Bond at once, he relishes telling Bond the details of SMERSH’s plan: he will shoot Bond through the heart, plant film footage of Bond and Tatiana’s love-making in Bond’s luggage and kill Romanova too. He also reveals that the Spektor is booby-trapped to explode under examination. Grant’s speech gives Bond time to slip his metal cigarette case between the pages of the book he is holding. When Grant fires, the bullet strikes the case, but Bond pretends to have been shot. As Grant steps over him, Bond attacks and kills him.
Bond and Romanova escape to Paris, where Bond is confronted by Rosa Klebb, who kicks him with a poisoned blade. The novel ends as Bond sinks to the floor.From Russia, With Love
cemented Fleming’s reputation as a major writer of spy thrillers. The British Sunday Times
set the tone for reviews, claiming, "If a psychiatrist and a thoroughly efficient copywriter got together to produce a fictional character who would be the mid-twentieth century subconscious male ambition, the result would inevitably be James Bond." The movie adaptation, starring Sean Connery as Bond, has consistently been regarded as one of the most successful Bond movies, and one of the most influential action movies of all time. Although Fleming toyed with the idea of leaving Bond dead at the end of From Russia, With Love
, he eventually reprised the character for Dr. No