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For Your Eyes Only | Short Story Collection | Ian Fleming Book Reviews Continue…

Property of a Lady
This tale is Bond tale but calling it a James Bond adventure, well, I doubt if it can be truly called the same. James Bond is a protagonist of course, who implements his logic at a place and it seems he got succeed pointing towards a major enemy. Though, it lacks the Bond stuff you are curious to find in the Bond stories. Let us get a little deeper in the tale to see what does that mean? James Bond was called in by M accompanied by Dr. Fanshawe, a noted authority in Antique jewelery. Who bring the information to notice M that he suspects something inappropriate in the coming auction. There is one Emerald Sphere, a kind of treasure worth a lot. The sphere was came via a registered post for Maria Freudenstein. Maria Freudenstein is a secret service employee and jewellery was sent by a Russian Jewelers for the auction.

What rang the bell in the mind of Dr Fanshawe was, the property was coming to the lady as a legacy or inheritance precisely. And when it will be auctioned, it should be converted into a remarkable amount. Which might be a payment to her in a legitimate way for some really nice work she have done for the secret service of the payer county! Bond indeed found that Maria was a double agent. Actually, the department knew that and she was given the duty of working on a cipher machine where she had to deal with a few secret documents daily. She was intentionally given the mixture of correct information which was not much harmful and a few useless one too. M wanted this to be carry on for a long to fed wrong information to the opponents. This is how secret service works. In addition to knowing the secrets of the enemy one should do the best to protect his own. Feeding wrong information via a double agent is a good way but ones the opponent found that the information found via double is useless, misleading or wrong; the conclude that their double was under a watch. The fate of the double was then decided by them, and mostly it is a kill. So to not let know the enemies that you know the double agent working in your organisation, you have feed the some secrets via him/her to the opponent. If Dr. Fanshawe’s doubt was correct they have to work on the stuff to know, who was behind the stuff.

Maria was a not attractive kind of a lady. So might not had any attention from the charming people. And such people have a hidden anger towards the society. They are willing to show the society that they have power. You had not noticed them due to their ordinary or rather dull look or appearance. Now get ready to pay this ignorance. Again this tales proves that how good Ian Fleming was at to understand human behavior under certain circumstances psychologically! M thanked Dr. Fanshawe for ringing the bell about the event to be held and asked him to rest assured. The matter may not be that serious and she might not be involved in such stuff but department will take care for the same.

After Dr. Fanshavwe left he have had discussion with Bond and M briefed him about the stuff. Bond agree keeping an eye on Maria and after just noticing her behavior and all, he have visited the auctioneer. He confides him to assist him in the matter and hence arrangements are made that Bond visit the auction as aid to him. He asks Bond how the auction will move on, how he have to check who was, by using unnoticeable behavior which was already communicated with the presenter of the auction is participating and raising his/her prices for the specific item of interest. It was indeed a nice stuff to learn that scratching nose or ear, adjusting the spectacles etc could be signals to raise price and participating in the auction. Only the presenter and the bidder know that secret signal. So till the last stage is reached no one else know who bid for what! A kind of secret work in its own. Especially when antiques are concerned it happened.

Bond’s idea behind visiting the auction from inside was, if he could be able to find the bidder who intentionally pushed the price for the property of the lady, he may trace the person who was interested in letting her earn a really handsome amount of money. Who else he can be than the station chief of opponent!? Will Bond be able to find-out the stuff and whether the result of all this exercise was what actually he wanted? Had he hit the bull’s eye? All the questions are better getting answered by reading this story itself.

As mentioned earlier this is not the thriller with chasing and shooting etc. It rather based on the mind game. You will be reading (and might be learning) a lot about human behavior and all. Ian Fleming was able make a comparatively dull story into rich information.


  1. No Bond movie was titled as “property of a lady” but “Octupussy” film used the plot device of auctioning of a Faberg√© egg at Sotheby’s from “The Property of a Lady” and, as with the story, the auction item was described as being the same “property of a lady”.
  2. The story was intended to publish in The Ivory Hammer, later it was published in Playboy too.

Overall an average story.

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