The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Kissy Suzuki; The Villain: Dr. Guntram Shatterhand; Supporting Characters: Emmy Shatterhand, Dikko Henderson, Tiger Tanaka; Locations Covered: Japan; First Published: 1964
The most haunting James Bond novel ever written. It is also one of the most disturbing novels in the series and it is a must read for anyone who wants to know what the emotional center of James Bond is like. Be warned now, if you have not read On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, do not proceed any further, because this review contains plot spoilers for both novels.
This is a psychological 007 novel where Bond has become a minor character, and the new main character has become revenge. Revenge for Tracy. His venengece is to be extracted on the man who killed his wife, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, as well as his hellish henchmen named Irma Bunt. His problems have slowly become the problems of the Service as 007 is now a security risk.
M has only one choice in his mind. Fire him! He is then pursuaded by a close friend to give 007 a final chance on what he considers an impossible plan. Sending him to Japan for “Magic 44”. “Magic 44” is a code word use between the Japanese Secret Service, (JSS) and MI6. Magic 44 are secrets that are relayed from the JSS to the CIA, which in turn is supposed to give it up to MI6. In the novel, MI6 has not recieved any of the information about to be passed along. Only the Americans have it. Bond`s mission is to cut out the American middle man and get a direct link from JSS to MI6.
Bond isn’t impressed with M’s plan, but reluctently heads off to Japan. Bond has been paired with two of Japan’s best agents, the Head of the Japanese Secret Service, named Tiger Tanaka and an Austrailian agent named Dikko Henderson, who seems to be half drunk from the first moment we meet him. Dikko Henderson and Tiger Tanaka are superb additions to You Only Live Twice as 007’s only friends.
Sadly, neither have been heard from since in any of the most recent 007 novels, but both are well written and created with Fleming’s flair and style. Both are very impressive characters, and are deeply written.
Dr. Guntram Shatterhand and Emmy Shatterhand are the villians. If you check chronology, you can guess rather easily who these villains are. Fleming was splendid with his portraits of both of these hellish characters.
Shatterhand is a botanist who, with his wife, has come to Japan near the first of the year, 1963 (right after Tracy’s death). Dr. Shatterhand has asked that he be able to bring one million British pounds into the country, in exchange for property where he will be able to build a lavish garden, filled with fatal plants and killer animals, such as piranhas. . The plants and animals that Shatterhand has placed in the garden are expertly described, and add a good touch of detail to the character
As soon as word gets around, people begin to flock to the “Castle Of Death” that Dr. Guntram Shatterhand has created. He sets up a bright red balloon, that entices people to kill themselves in Shatterhand’s garden. He has built it for that sole purpose of. A modern day Jack Kevorkian, he has built the Castle because suicide is highly respected in Japan. He later explains that if Bond dies, he will move out of Japan and head to South America to build another Castle of Death. His single motive is to see people die! He has a morbid fascination with the death of people, including 007.
“Every where, Mr. Bond, people want to kill themselves. Japan, South America, Africa. When I kill you, I will destroy the Castle and move on.”
Shatterhand employs a group of men to care for the Castle and Garden. They are protected almost as well as Shatterhand himself, with knee high boots, surgical face masks, and protective clothing.
Tiger Tananka and the rest of the Japanese Government become suspicious of Shatterhand’s intentions, so he selects a great agent of his to venture into the Garden. The Agent dies weeks later, muttering something about pink dragonflies.
Bond is ordered to kill them by Tiger Tanaka, in exchange for the Magic 44. Well, Bond gets himself captured while trying to kill Shatterhand.
Shatterhand then tortures Bond and then plans to cut off his head with a sword. Good plan, great idea, but horribly done for the villian. He talks forever and screws up and finally Bond is able to kill him, and severly injures Emmy Shatterhand.
Also in the mix is a change of race for 007. He becomes Japanese. He has his skin dyed and haircut changed. He takes up residence with Kissy Suzuki because Tiger knows her and has convinced her to take him in. Bond has an affair with her, and eventually they produce a child together. Throw in the fact that Bond also develops amnesia and you can see why this is one of the most action packed and best received Bond thrillers by Ian Fleming.