Dr No (1958)

Author: Ian Fleming
Published: 31st March 1958
MI6 Rating:

Data Stream
Villains: Doctor Julius No, various Chigroes
Plot: Toppling of American missiles by radio signals for the Soviets.
Bond Girls: Honeychile Rider
Allies: Quarrel, Pleydell-Smith
Locations: Jamaica; London, UK; Crab Key Island
Highlights: Hotel room attack by a centipede, dinner with Dr No, assault course.

Capsule Synopsis
James Bond is sent on an easy assignment to Jamaica, to tidy up a minor mystery surrounding Dr No and his island, Crab Key. Once there he meets the alluring Honeychile Rider, uncovers a maniacal plot, and has to fight for their lives as the island unleashes its darkest threats.
Above: 1st edition Jonathan Cape hardback (UK). Artwork by Pat Marriott.

Official Blurb (Penguin 2002 Edition)
Dr No, a sinister recluse with mechanical pincers for hands and a sadistic fascination with pain, holds James Bond firmly in his steely grasp. bond and Honey Rider, his beautiful and vulnerable girl Friday, have been captured trespassing on Dr No's secluded Caribbean island. Intent on protecting his clandestine operations from the British secret service, Dr No sees an opportunity to dispose of an enemy and further his diabolical research. Soon, Bond and Rider are fighting for their lives in a murderous game of Dr No's choosing...

Official Blurb (Penguin 2004 Edition)
A British Secret Service agent and his secretary have gone missing from their base in Kingston. M thinks this will be an easy case for 007, still recovering from his near fatal encounter with a Russian agent. Arriving in Jamaica to investigate, Bond learns that the reclusive Dr Julius No may be behind their disappearance. And when Bond and the exotic Honeychile Rider are caught trespassing on Dr No’s secluded island, they discover he has diabolical plans afoot that could threaten international security …

In Dr No, Fleming created one of his greatest villains – a megalomaniac with a sadistic fascination with pain, against whom Bond must fight for his life in a murderous game of his adversary’s choosing.

Chapter Listing

  1. Hear You Loud and Clear
  2. Choice of Weapons
  3. Holiday Task
  4. Reception Committee
  5. Facts and Figures
  6. The Finger on the trigger
  7. Night Passage
  8. The Elegant Venus
  9. Close Shaves
  10. Dragon Spoor
  11. Amidst the Alien Cane
  12. The Thing
  13. Mink-Lined Prison
  14. Come Into My Parlour
  15. Pandora's Box
  16. Horizons of agony
  17. The Long Scream
  18. Killing Ground
  19. A Shower of Death
  20. Slave-Time
Above: British Pan paperback 1st-3rd editions (1960 onwards).

"You are right, Mister Bond. That is just what I am, a maniac. All the greatest men are maniacs. They are possessed by a mania which drives them forwards towards their goal. The great scientists, the philosophers, the religious leaders - all maniacs."

Above: British Pan paperback 4th edition (1961); American Signet paperback 7th-20th editions (1962 onwards); British Pan paperback 21st edition (1970)

Doctor No’s plot starts off where From Russia With Love left off. Bond is recovering after his poisoning by Rosa Klebb, and M sends him on a supposedly cushy assignment to investigate the disappearance of Strangways, the Head of Station in Jamaica. M suspects that Strangways ran off with his secretary, but we know better, because Strangways was killed in the powerful opening pages of the book. Bond, who knew Strangways quite well, also has suspicions about M’s theory, and these seem well-founded when there are several attempts to kill him by poisoning his fruit, sending a deadly centipede into his room, and forcing his car off the road.

The obvious suspect is Dr Julius No, a local merchant in the expensive Guano bird dung, in whose island there have recently been several mysterious deaths. Bond and his friend Quarrel sail to his island, Crab Key, in secret, and meet Honeychile Rider. But Quarrel is killed by a tank disguised as a dragon, and Bond is captured along with Honey. Bond takes a fancy to Honey, but is called to a meeting with Dr No in the plush underground complex. It turns out that No is using radio technology to topple American missiles for the Soviets. To kill Bond, Dr No has devised a sadistic assault course to test the limits of human endurance. But Bond survives it, and its climactic combat with a giant squid. 007 kills Dr No by using a crane to suffocate him with his bird dung. Bond then rescues Honey, who had been left to be killed by a crab migration.

"Bond looked across into M’s eyes. For the first time in his life he hated the man. He knew perfectly well why M was being tough and mean. It was deferred punishment for having nearly got killed on his last job. . . In a way Bond felt sure he was being sent on this cushy assignment to humiliate him. The old bastard."

"Forgive me for not shaking hands with you,' the deep voice was flat and even. 'I am unable to.' Slowly the sleeves parted and opened. 'I have no hands."

"He lowered his voice. 'Now, about this evening. Just leave the talking to me. Be natural and don't be worried by Doctor No. He may be a bit mad."

"He got up and went down on one knee beside her. He picked up her hand and looked into it. At the base of the thumb the Mount of venus swelled luxuriously. Bond bent his head down into the warm soft hand and bit softly into the swelling. He felt the other hand in his hair. he bit harder. The hand he was holding curled round his mouth. She was panting. He still bit harder. She gave a little scream and wrenched his head away by the hair.
'What are you doing?"

"Bond lit his first cigarette of the day - the first Royal Blend he had smoked for five years - and let the smoke come out between his teeth in a luxurious hiss."

Above: British Pan paperback 23rd-26th editions (1973 onwards)

Above: British Pan paperback 9th-15th editions (1963 onwards); British Coronet paperback 9th edition (1988); British Penguin paperback edition (2002)


"Fleming, by reason of his cool analytical intelligence, his informed use of technical facts, his plausibility, sense of pace, brilliant descriptive powers and superb imagination, provides sheer entertainment."
- Spectator

From the archaic racial sensibilities (beyond the representation of Dr. No as a Yellow Menace, his evil henchmen are referred to as Chigroes--half Chinese, half black); to the somewhat shaky Bond, with his physical dependence on Quarrel and his eventual emotional dependence on Honey; to the decidedly low tech finale; the book is a delight. It's most interesting historical aspect may be the simple assurance which it reflects that the West represented a righteous bulwark against totalitarian barbarism.
- Brothers Judd

"Doctor No has all the action, drama, and romance that has kept Fleming's books in the limelight for nearly half a century, all told in Fleming's droll, understated style."
- April Chase, Curled Up

Above: Penguin USA paperback 1st edition (2002)