If Dr. No was Fleming’s “rusty Bond”, Goldfinger‘s Bond is downright incompetent.
On a lark, a tired and irritable Bond (possibly a reflection of Ian Fleming’s interest in writing at this point), takes an easy job to help a side character from Casino Royale uncover a card cheat by name of Auric Goldfinger (very creative, there, Ian). Bond disrupts the game and identifies himself as a threat–the first in a series of mistakes that sees Bond stumbling over every conceivable plot device in his eventual crash into the anti-climax of the raid on Fort Knox.
The plot makes little sense and the action scenes are unexciting. Fleming spends several chapters droning on about the intricacies of golf in an attempt to recapture the tense, exciting anticipation of the card game in Casino Royale that simply comes off long-winded and dull. Fleming then takes Bond on a leisurely drive across the French countryside disguised as the least-thrilling car chase in fiction. I hate to say it, but this Bond is simply boring. Even the big set piece production of the raid at Fort Knox has no teeth–it builds and builds, but is over too quickly and with too little action.
If Moonraker is the maximum ratio of the book being better than the film, Goldfinger is the maximum ratio of the film being better than the book. Skip this novel and just watch Sean Connery make the most of the source material.
Pick up a copy on Amazon and decide for yourself. (affiliate link)