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

For Your Eyes Only

This is one of the stories which shows the emotional and human sides of M – the boss of James Bond. How much burden he is having on his shoulders to take decisions and how it affects him (yeah, in the films M is a female – played by Judi Dench – but in the stories M is a male) psychologically and mentally! It also shows that when you are on the top you are alone and responsible for all the decisions, the people working in the layer below you (a management is like a pyramid as we know) are simply taking your orders, but it is you who initiate the tasks. For your eyes only was a case which is not only official but personal for M. This is probably the only (or may be on of the few) where the file is marked as “For your eyes only” by M rather than “Top Secret”.

A wealthy elder Jamaican couple (the male was a retired Colonel) was living in the isolated place of so many acres (belong to them) when a retired Major came to meet them and offer a handsome amount of money to purchase the land belong to them. He was interested in the land on behalf of an international criminal who is associated with drug business. The couple of was not interested in selling the place as they were attached with it emotionally. However the major have to finish the deal anyway. He tried all the offers and tricks and after he was unsuccessful he simply killed the couple. Though their daughter was not there at that time and hence was survived. She have to deal with the property now! Well, actually there was nothing to deal for her, she simply needed to hand it over legally to the drug-lord and his team who already have grabbed it. Mr. and Mrs. Havelocks (the murdered couple) was such good friends to M that he even served them as the best man on their wedding. Now as the Havelocks are no more, their daughter is in danger and she needs to be taken care of.

Now as the murder was related to a drug racket (the drug lord want the place for his living in isolation and under protection of corrupt officers etc.) M have to look after it and demolish the wrong people and business, on the other hand it belongs to him personally also. So he have to make sure that his decision was to use official resources on official stuff rather than using them for personal revenge! This is the burden he have on hm.

Bond however understands the necessity of killing the killers due to several reasons including, the wrong people and wrong business must be demolished. It not only keeps making the society malicious but also gives them the chance to grow the same. Also the authorities must need to send the underworld the signal that they are not the soft targets. When a citizen is hurt the authority have to bounce back on the underworld to show them that the citizens who are living responsibly to make a society, a society, are the most precious element and the authority cannot tolerate any harm to them. And… well, there are so many reasons. All these stuff explores a lot about the mind-set of Ian Fleming. Actually when you read any book and you traverse through the incidents and characters mentioned, actually you are exploring the hidden mindset of the author and it is very interesting to explore, because we humans are blessed with the most precious gift called mind and that is what make us responsible for what we are today.

Anyway the story moves ahead and we see that how a commissioner hands over the next steps to help James Bond in the mission to his sub-ordinate. The conversation between James Bond and Colonel Johns is very interesting to read. Without spilling the beans about their (to keep your interest intact when you read it) I must mention two thing about it.

  • How Colonel Johns remain politically correct when talking to James
  • How much care he took when providing aids to James (like the map for example is much older and used and also some line with pen is drawn on to the same, so it looks like the user, James Bond, uses it actually since a while)
  • and… well I stop here 🙂

There starts James’ journey to the villa of Havelocks. The explanation about the surrounding in the moon-light night is a good read. James when observing the villa from a distance and moving towards the same, was interrupted by a girl with bow and arch. We got to know that she is the daughter of Havelocks who is on route to kill the killers of her parents. And she already got to a length collecting the details about the people who are now living in her villa. There was an angry discussion about who is going to kill the drug-lord. Despite of James’ explanation that he is the expert in the field and she was amateur, he have a plan and she is having just anger and skills in throwing bows; she was firm that drug-lord killed her father so nonetheless she will kill him and there can be no discussion there.

How James cops with the situation and how the mission got accomplished is something I leave you to read on. The way the drug-lord was assassinated is interesting. A nice tale to read.

A comic strip based on this short story was published from 11 September 1961 to 9 December 1961. The comic strip adapter was Henry Gammidge and illustrator was John McLusky.
The story was originally entitled Man’s Work and even you find a dialog telling the same when Bond was convincing Judy.

Well don’t forget to visit previous/next pages to read the other short stories of the book.

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