Goldfinger (1959)

Author: Ian Fleming
Published: 23rd March 1959
MI6 Rating:

Data Stream
Villains: Auric Goldfinger, Oddjob
Plot: Theft of gold from Fort Knox to fund SMERSH and to increase his personal stock.
Bond Girls: Jill Masterson, Tilly Masterson, Pussy Galore
Allies: Felix Leiter
Locations: London, UK; Miami, USA; New York, USA; Switzerland; Kentucky, Fort Knox; USA
Highlights: Golf game, Fort Knox attack, final battle in plane

Capsule Synopsis
James Bond is faced with Goldfinger, a millionaire who cheats at cards and golf. He discovers evidence that Goldfinger is the treasurer of SMERSH, and as the game is played out, 007 finds that the real stakes are greater still.
Above: 1st edition Jonathan Cape hardback (UK). Artwork by Richard Chopping.

Official Blurb (Penguin 2002 Edition)
‘Mr Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.” Miami, Sandwich and now Geneva. I propose to wring the truth out of you.’ Goldfinger’s eyes slid slowly past Bond’s head. ‘Oddjob. The Pressure Room.’

Auric Goldfinger: cruel, clever, frustratingly careful. A cheat at Canasta and a crook on a massive scale in everyday life. The sort of man James Bond hates. So it’s fortunate that Bond is the man charged by both the Bank of England and MI5 to discover what this, the richest man in the country intends to do with his ill-gotten gains – and what his connection is with SMERSH, the feared Soviet spy-killing corps. But once inside this deadly criminal’s organization, 007 finds that Goldfinger’s schemes are more grandiose – and lethal – than anyone could have imagined. Not only is he planning the greatest gold robbery in history, but mass murder as well...

Official Blurb (Penguin 2004 Edition)
Returning from Mexico after cracking a squalid heroin ring, Bond is only too happy to stay at a Miami hotel and figure out how Auric Goldfinger is cheating at Canasta. It seems that the Bank of England are interested in him too, and charge 007 to discover what the richest man in England is doing with the vast quantities of gold he has acquired – and what his connection is with SMERSH, the Soviet spy-killing organization.

Up against Goldfinger and his henchman Oddjob – a bowler-hatted thug with a Black Belt in Karate – Bond soon finds that this criminal genius’s schemes are greater, and more lethal, than anyone could have imagined …

Chapter Listing

Part One / Happenstance

  1. Reflections in a Double Bourbon
  2. Living It Up
  3. The Man with Agoraphobia
  4. Over the Barrel
  5. Night Duty
  6. Talk of Gold
  7. Thoughts in a DB III

Part Two/ Coincidence

  1. All to Play For
  2. The Cup and the Lip
  3. Up at the Grange
  4. The Odd-Job Man
  5. Long Tail on a Ghost
  6. 'If You Touch Me There...'
  7. Things That Go Thump in the Night

Part Three / Enemy Action

  1. The Pressure Room
  2. The Last and the Biggest
  3. Hoods' Congress
  4. Crime de la Crime
  5. Secret Appendix
  6. Journey into Holocaust
  7. The Richest Man in History
  8. The Last Trick
  9. TLC Treatment
Above: British Pan paperback 1st-3rd editions (1961 onwards).

"Yes," Goldfinger nodded. "That is exactly what we are going to do. We are going to burgle fifteen billion dollars’ worth of gold bullion, approximately half the supply of mined gold in the world. We are going, Mr Bond, to take Fort Knox."

Above: British Book Club hardback edition (1959); American Signet paperback 8th-17th editions (1963 onwards); British Pan paperback 9th-13th editions (1963)

James Bond is at the airport reflecting on a successful mission in Mexico when he bumps into Mr Du Pont who was on the same table as him in Casino Royale. He thinks he is being cheated at Canasta by a Mr Goldfinger, and offers Bond five-star accommodation to find out how. Bond accepts, and realises that Goldfinger is using his secretary with binoculars in the hotel above to communicate with him via an earpiece. Bond photographs the evidence, humiliates Goldfinger and beds his secretary, Jill Masterson, on the train to New York.

Back in London, M orders Bond to investigate gold smuggling to India from the England, and it turns out the Goldfinger, Britain's richest millionaire, is a prime suspect. Colonel Smithers from the Bank of England briefs Bond, who sets up a golf game in which he again humiliated Goldfinger by out-cheating him on the final hole and winning another $10,000. Goldfinger suggests they meet for supper at his house in Kent, and they do so. Bond pries about but discovers nothing, except the extraordinary Karate abilities of Oddjob, one of Goldfinger's Korean manservant's.

Bond follows Goldfinger to the airport, but a search of his Rolls Royce reveals nothing. He then pursues him across Europe thanks to a homing device. While spying on Goldfinger's factory in Switzerland, Bond spots Tilly Soames, a girl he met earlier and crashed into to stop her following him, about to try and shoot Goldfinger. They both get captured, but not before Bond spots that Goldfinger's Rolls is made entirely from white gold, and in this way the villain is transporting gold to Switzerland, where it is then made into plane seats for a passenger flight to India.

Bond avoids a torturous death by deliberately fainting, and he is taken to Goldfinger's base in Kentucky. There Goldfinger decides to use Bond and Tilly as secretaries. It turns out Tilly was Jill's sister, and Jill was killed by skin asphyxiation when Goldfinger captured her and had Oddjob paint her completely gold. Bond and Tilly sit in on a convention of American gang leaders, who agree to partake in Goldfinger's plan to raid Fort Knox. Goldfinger will use a chemical weapon to poison the water supplies and kill the residents, and then use an atom bomb he purchased to blow open the entrance to the vaults.

Bond leaves a message on the toilet seat of his plane, hoping a cleaner will deliver it to Felix Leiter who could organise it. Things look bad when Goldfinger, disguised as a doctor among a team of nurses led by Lesbian gangster Pussy Galore manages to get into the deserted holocaust. But then the Americans appear and start shooting everyone. The message had indeed reached Felix. However, the gangsters all escape.

After his red-carpet reception in Washington, Bond prepares to board the BOAC aircraft home, but he is tricked by a doctor and put to sleep by an injection. He wakes up on a BOAC plane hijacked by Goldfinger. Pussy Galore is aboard and delivers a message telling Bond she is on his side. Using a knife concealed in his shoe, Bond destroys the plane's window, and Oddjob is sucked out. The pilots ditch the plane, and only Pussy and Bond survive when they sit together at the back of the plane. Pussy Galore is a heterosexual by the end of the book.

"You see, Mr Bond. You were wrong and I was right. Ten more minutes and I shall be the richest man in the world, the richest man in history!"

"Bond always distrusted short men. They grew up from childhood with an inferiority complex. All their lives they would strive to be big - bigger than the others who had teased them as a child. Napoleon had been short, and Hitler. It was the short men that had caused all the trouble in the world."

"Bond went back to his suitcase again and took out a thick book - The Bible Designed to be Read as Literature - opened it and extracted his Walther PPK in the Berns Martin holster. He slipped the holster inside his trouser band to the left. He tried one or two quick drawers. They were satisfactory."

"As soon as Bond had hit the shot he knew it wouldn't do. The difference between a good golf shot and a bad one is the same as the difference between a beautiful and a plain woman - a matter of millimetres."

"I don't myself drink or smoke, Mr Bond. Smoking, I find the most ridiculous of all the varieties of human behaviour and practically the only one that is entirely against nature. Can you imagine a cow or any animal taking a mouthful of smoldering straw the breathing in the smoke and blowing it out through its nostrils? Pah!"

Above: British Pan paperback 22nd-26th editions (1972 onwards)

Above: British Pan paperback 21st edition (1969); British Coronet paperback 6th edition (1988); British Penguin paperback edition (2002)


"Fantastic ... Nobody else does this sort of thing as well as Mr Fleming"
- Sunday Times

"Goldfinger the "formula" for the rest of his best Bond books. We have the outlandish villain, bizarre methods of death, exotic locations, the melodramatic names (Goldfinger, Pussy Galore), and the insider's knowledge. Great escapism.

Ian Fleming's Goldfinger, the seventh title in his popular series, is partly just a darn good read and partly a sort of cultural primer. Set (as are the other Bond novels) in the bygone mid-century world of the British upper class, where a man's golf shoes were a reliable indicator of his character, the book is replete with card games, golfing and champagne suppers. The cars are superb, the martinis are dry, and even the villains are gentlemen – although not as much so, of course, as Bond. The book is full of the fantastic gizmos, intricate plots and the dazzling action scenes that Fleming made famous.
- April Chase, Curled Up

Above: Penguin USA paperback 1st edition (2002)