There will never be better beach reads than James Bond books. Post-Ian Flemming the series is either predictable or delightfully absurd, like the movies. But the originals…so exciting! Bond is a relatable guy, lonely and isolated, far from home on a mission for Queen and Country (hey, sounds like a deployment). And he spends a disproportionate amount of time here in Sunny Florida! Nice work. I just finished “Live and Let Die,” where Bond breaks apart a communist spy network that’s funding terrorism with discovered pirate treasure! Now THAT is a summer novel if I’ve ever read one. 🙂 Yay Bond! He takes a train down from New York and makes Jacksonville in time for breakfast, skips death in Ocala and disembarks in Tampa and heads down to St. Petersburg. I try to coordinate my vacation reads with where I’m going. And ‘Summering in Florida’ (said with a nose-in-the-air accent for fun) merits a destination read.
Speaking of a destination read, on my and Hannie’s first day in London I saw a teaser in the tube about the latest Bond book, “Devil May Care”…coming soon. In Oxford the next day I popped into a bookstore to ask when it was coming out. “Why today, and it’s on promotion—half price!” Woo hoo! I bought the hardcover for a scant 9 GBP (still less than I’ve seen the American edition—$25) and read it the whole way home. It’s set in the 60’s and takes Bond on a tour of the Middle Eastern opium trade.
I had many hours on the road to Tallahassee last week to listen to “The World is Not Enough,” which was as campy as the movies, but entertaining and made the time fly. Or maybe that was because I was going 90 mph. Either way, it felt quicker. That story focuses on Istanbul, so really doesn’t fit into this post, which is about destination Bond books. So back to the point:
“The Man From Barbarossa,” by John Gardner, set in the 90’s, and Ian Fleming’s “Goldfinger,” feature the Florida Keys and Miami. So secretly I think Florida is the best place to be to meet a certain spy. And now I’m on “Doctor No,” set in the Caribbean. Close enough, and still perfect for the beach!
Buy the dreamy James Bond series, including the newest, at this family-run bookstore where the owners didn’t mind when I dashed in out of the thunderstorm that caught us unprepared on Atlantic Beach: Book Mark, 299 Atlantic Blvd., Atlantic Beach Town Center, (904) 241-9026. They’re featured on the big table by the door.
Bonus: it’s right next to Ragtime Tavern and Seafood Grill, which mixes that essential summertime drink, the Mojito. Probably shaken vodka martinis as well. Try the Key Lime Shrimp Pasta!